Comparison is a trap and a dangerous gauge for the health of our lives and relationships. It’s often based on partial truths and unattainable reality. Most of us know this, yet we all do it. And thanks to social media, highlights, and sound bytes flooding our daily moments, we step willingly into the comparison trap early and often in our days.
The problem with comparison is that we tend to do it under the influence of extreme emotions or insecurities. A fight with your spouse can simultaneously shout a lie that every other marriage is perfect. Swing to the other end of the pendulum when all cylinders are firing, and in walks pride, telling you that you have it more together than the next person. Seasons of insecurity may be the strongest bait of all. We trade vulnerability and honesty for illusion and comparison.
Deep down, we all know that nobody is perfect, and there is no such thing as a perfect marriage. Yet how easily we stray from reality. Comparison is a thief of joy, and if not kept in check, can kill your marriage. Here are three traps we can often fall into.
COMPARING YOUR SUCCESS TO OTHERS
The whole idea of “Keeping up with the Joneses” isn’t a new one, yet it is unarguably magnified in the days of social media. The reality of life is that we all progress and hit benchmarks at different times. Defined success to one person or family may not be the same for the next. It can be far too easy to look around and feel like you’re not measuring up. You’re not making enough money, haven’t gotten the big promotion, or perhaps your business is failing when it seems everybody else’s is flourishing.
Remember those partial truths and unattainable realities? Those apply here. You’re running a unique race with unique people. Your life isn’t meant to look the same as the next person’s, so comparison is a waste of your time. Want to escape the comparison trap? Look far less to you right and left and far more to God. Run your race with your people. Stop comparing and start making a difference.
COMPARING YOUR SPOUSE TO OTHER MEN OR WOMEN
There are fewer things that can destroy your marriage faster than this one. You married your spouse for his or her unique strengths and personality. You said your vows and made a sacred commitment in front of God and your family. Your spouse will not complete you and will never meet your every need. There will be days and even seasons where you may not be on the same page. But the most dangerous thing you can do is compare your spouse to another man or woman. It takes your focus off of your greatest gift and onto a false reality.
THE “HAPPINESS” COMPARISON
Have these thoughts ever entered your mind? “They seem so happy.” “They never fight.” “They have it all.” These are dangerous and distorted views of reality. Perhaps try asking yourself this question: “Is my happiness really the point in marriage, anyway?”
At the core, marriage exists to display God’s glory. Aside from the church, it is the only institution that God created. It is a sacred union designed for two people to join together–not to compare themselves to other flawed and sinful human beings, but to live together for the glory of God. If this is our goal, then comparison will fall off our lives naturally.
At the end of the day, we can either endlessly search out ways to measure up to society, or we can choose to live out our marriages for the glory of God alone. Only there will we trade the trap of comparison for the gifts of grace and truth.