This past (TV) season, I watched Dancing With the Stars. I love dancing, costumes, and drama …so it was a perfect match! Throughout the season, I became intrigued by the “relationship” that developed between one of the stars, Meryl Davis, and her dancing partner, Maksim Chmerkocskiy. Each week the chemistry, both on and off the dance floor, seemed to increase. They had a sweet friendship and possessed an adorable admiration for each other (I realize this is a television show and perhaps some of this might even have been scripted to entertain the audience, but still, it was fun to watch).
Last Tuesday night, after tucking my children into bed, I tuned in to watch the season finale. As expected, Meryl and Maks won the competition and took home the coveted “Mirror Ball Trophy.” In one of the behind-the-scenes interview clips, Maks rambled on about how much he wanted Meryl, wanted to have babies with her, and would most likely ask her to marry him the next day (click here to watch the clip). The moment I heard him speak those words I remember going weak at the knees as I thought,
“I want to be wanted like that.”
Disclaimer: I did not lust over Maks. I am in no way attracted to him nor do I wish to be married to him or anyone other than Jason. For me, that moment brought a longing to intensely desired by someone. I was envious that Jason was not on public television declaring his infatuation with me. In the split second that it took for me to compare my relationship, my joy evaporated, and I dishonored my spouse.
That was not the first time comparisons have been present in my marriage.
- My friend goes on a date with her husband once a week while Jason and I schedule a monthly date night. As I compare apples-to-apples, our night out suddenly seems below par due to the lack of frequency.
- I read a blog post, which made me swoon, about another man who always referred to his wife as, “My bride,” and all of a sudden Jason’s nicknames for me seem routine and passionless.
- My husband had to work on Memorial Day instead of being home for a cookout like most of the husbands in my neighborhood. Within seconds, I grow angry at Jason’s work schedule rather than appreciate the fact I get to be a stay-at-home mom because of his career.
- When a friend gets engaged, I am envious of how her fiancé proposed even if Jason’s proposal was more romantic (not that I have a biased opinion).
- I can watch Dancing With the Stars and suddenly feel as if my husband doesn’t love me, want me, or desires to have babies with me instead of realizing that he does love me, want me, and we have already produced several babies!
Once I open the door to one comparison… it is shocking how quickly my joy and contentment can begin to erode.
Throughout our marriage, I have pridefully boasted that I have never compared Jason to another man. However, what I don’t confess is that I have a habit of allowing differentiating into my marriage. Mine manifests differently than someone who fantasizes about another man as her husband, but, make no mistake, mine are just as destructive!
I can trace the roots of my comparisons back to when I was dating Jason. From the beginning of our time together, I began, intensely, comparing our dating relationship to any of his previous ones. It seemed very important to me that Jason loved me more passionately than he had anyone before (hello, insecurity).
(It didn’t help that I found and read many old love letters between him and his ex-girlfriends and would then evaluate Jason’s feelings towards me in comparison to the words I had read on paper… but that is a post for another day!)
Once I became convinced that I was the love of his life, I looked outward at other relationships (hello, boredom). Sure, Jason loves me more than his ex-girlfriend, but does he love me as much as our pastor loves his wife of 25 years? Does he love me with the same zeal that I see my friend’s husband loving her? Does he love me as much as the guy on TV loves his dance partner?
Each week brings a new litmus test in which I make my husband prove his love for me all the while keeping a blind eye to the fact I hurt my husband — and our marriage — by living in a state of constant comparison.
I wish I could end this confession with a clear action plan complete with the necessary steps that will prevent me from comparing my marriage to someone else’s. Sadly, I can’t. Any behavior modification that I make will not solve the underlying problem which lies deep inside of myself. I can no longer pretend this isn’t an issue in my marriage or excuse my thoughts as being that of a “typical girl.” I need the Lord to take over and change my heart and my mindset.
My marriage will look different from yours. The way we handle money, divide chores, plan date nights, worship the Lord, express our love and commitment, and spend our free time will look different from everybody else I know… my heart needs to except that truth as a good thing. I don’t need to compare my husband, our daily life, our romance, our relationship, or our marriage!
How do you practice contentment with the life that you have? How do you keep comparisons at bay?
*photo credit: Sarah Lambert.