It is very tempting to compare your marriage with that of other people you know or may not even know. They may be your own friends or family, or celebrities or influencers you follow on social media. Comparison is dangerous because it can make you feel miserable in a good marriage, and it can also make you accept an abusive marriage, because someone else did.
There are so many books, blogs, and guidance about relationships and marriage, but you need to remember these five things as you listen to the experiences of others and consider their advice:
Every Marriage Is Different
As unique as you are, so is your marriage. In fact, your marriage is even more unique, because it is a combination of TWO unique individuals who bring different beliefs and perspectives into the marriage.
Even though there may be similar experiences in marriage across cultures, how we interpret them depends on who we are, what we believe, and what we desire. Sure, there are some general guidelines and expectations, brought on by study of human relationships over time, but the universal truth that change is constant means that even these guidelines are prone to change, and their influence over your experience of marriage remains subjective.
You Don’t Know What Is Happening Behind Closed Doors
People pretend for many reasons. Sometimes, it is themselves they wish to deceive. Other times, they are just too ashamed to let others know the truth of their situation.
We all know that the images and videos we share on social media are usually the ones we feel best represent us…but may not truly reflect our reality. It’s best not to compare your circumstance with that of those who publish their happy moments for the world to see. There’s nothing wrong with such posts, but remember that they do not tell the whole story.
You Don’t Know the State of Their Hearts
Your friend’s husband buys her gifts and takes her on trips, but do you know the state of his heart? He comes home every night to eat dinner, but do you know if he listens to her? She is prospering in her business, because he supports and gives her liberty, but do you know the sacrifice she pays?
You will never know everything. Even your friend doesn’t know everything she should about herself, her husband, and their marriage. She knows how she feels, but she too doesn’t know his heart entirely. You can’t judge by what you see or hear… Only God knows all and is able to judge.
Your Marriage Needs Your Attention, not Comparison
Rather than paying attention to what is happening in someone else’s marriage, devote your time, analytical skills, emotions, and attention to your marriage. Yes, you can listen to advice, but it’s your choice to take or leave it. Those who advise do not know all either. What worked for them may not work for you, because of the unique combination of individuals in your marriage and your diverse circumstances.
Study your partner and study yourself. Seek to understand what makes you happy and what makes them happy, rather than trying to fit into a mold. Tend to your marriage like a garden; become an expert in your own relationship, and it will stand out on its own merits.
Only You Knows How Your Shoe Fits
People may try to tell you to stay in an abusive relationship, because their husband or wife had been abusive, and after they did a, b, and c, things changed and they are now manageable, or better, or amazing spouses. There may be a basis for being more long suffering, but only you know the extent of your suffering. You know your spouse more than anyone else, and you’re the only one who can give an expert opinion about their love and sincerity towards you.
At the end of the day, when you have to make a decision, you can’t base it on the truth of someone else’s experience, but on yours. Two metals can look very similar, but their durability will be different. It’s best your judge your marriage on its own merits than try to imitate someone who went through a similar experience. And if you believe you guys have what it takes to make it work, don’t worry about those who made a different decision. It is your bed. Make it the way you see fit.
Ultimately, our goal should be to give our best to making our marriage work, to preserve it, to be faithful. Comparison breeds discontent and confusion. Remember that God knows, and He cares. Do not be slow to ask Him to reveal the truth and help you to make the right decision/s concerning your marriage.
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