The Danger of Comparing Spouses

dont compare spousesI bet my husband is better than yours. No need to get offended. I bet yours is better than mine, too. That’s just how it works. Every husband (and wife) comes with a list of pros and cons. There’s nothing wrong with that. There’s no getting around it either. It’s the nature of human beings. It also seems to be pretty natural for us to compare our spouses to the spouses of others. Bad idea. More often than not, we only think to compare when we see someone else doing something our mates do not do. If someone else’s husband delivered “just because” flowers to the job, you’re reminded of how you haven’t received flowers in ages. If someone else’s wife hits the gym regularly, you’re reminded of how your wife, well, doesn’t.

Focusing on all the things your spouse doesn’t do can cause you to downplay the many things they do do. Your husband may not be the best at gift giving, but maybe he knows how to make you laugh and  is a great listener. Your wife may not be a size 4, but maybe she is kind, thoughtful, and very supportive. Assuming you didn’t marry  a complete grouch, your spouse should have a substantial “pro” list. Don’t forget that. Getting caught up in what you assume is going on in other people’s relationships will only create problems in yours. If you have a problem with your mate, by all means, address it, but don’t let what you THINK is going on in someone else’s relationship affect how you view your own.

Most of the time, we don’t even know the full details of what is going on in others’ relationships. We get bits and pieces from the source and then let our imaginations fill in the rest. You never know, maybe the frequent “just because” flowers are really “sorry I slapped you last night” flowers. And maybe the  size 4 wife works out so much because it’s her only escape from all the tension in her home. Or maybe they’re really all as happy as the Cosbys. (Now, that’s happy.) Either way, it doesn’t matter. What’s happening with other couples has nothing to do with what’s happening with you. Everyone’s situation is unique, their set of circumstances different. What should matter to you is the fact that you’ve married a good person that you feel safe with and can trust. It’s hard to find the person that is just the right fit for you. If you’ve found that, don’t ruin it by comparing him/her to what may be a skewed perception of someone else.

Also, keep in mind that your “con” list isn’t empty either, bucko. All the time you spend focusing on your spouses flaws could be better spent getting yourself together.  I think a lot of divorces come from a fixation on the other. Before marriage, we’re constantly trying to improve ourselves to make the other happy. After marriage though, we flip the script. We start to focus on what try need to be doing to make us happier. Nothing wrong with expecting your spouse to want you to be happy, but it seems we forget (or perhaps never learned) that the best way to find happiness is to seek it out for yourself rather than expecting others to bring it to you. Have  a talk with your spouse, not about your issues with him, but about your issues with yourself. Tell them what you think you should work on most and how you think working on that problem can positively affect your marriage. Invite your spouse to do the same. They will surely appreciate the change of focus and be inspired by your willingness to be more introspective. If nothing else, they’ll love to hear you admit that you’re not perfect. Spouses need to hear that sometimes. We all do.

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