There are a lot of challenges in marriage. It’s a transition from being fully independent to living cooperatively with the same person every single day. Some couples struggle while others find it easy to transition into their new roles. Nevertheless, daunting challenges are bound to arise, and with these challenges come pitfalls that it are best to avoid. Comparison is an ugly threat that should be avoided at all costs! Let’s take a look at four of the most common comparisons that can “throw a wrench” into an otherwise peaceful and cohesive relationship.
Wrench 1 –Inserting the Past into the Present
No!! Comparing the present with the past is by far the worst of the “wrenches”. It is difficult enough to figure out how to please your spouse without comparing to the past. It does not matter how a person has treated you before, nor should how you treated another have a significant impact on your current relationship. Leave the past in the past! It is disheartening to hear a spouse say, “Well [insert previous partner’s name] liked when I did things like that. I don’t understand why you have a problem with it.”
Solution: Stop comparing the past with what you have now. There is a reason (probably several) you chose this person to be your life partner! No one likes feeling as if they are never good enough; just because something worked before does not necessarily mean that you can expect this relationship to function the same way. Rather than having expectations based on your past experiences, write down all of the things you expect from your spouse and your marriage. Give this list to your partner and actually talk about it. Talking about your relationship and what you expect from one another should not be awkward!
Wrench 2 – Being Someone Other than Yourself
You cannot be anyone but you. Many of us, particularly women, have a tendency to compare who we are to the people our partners have been connected to in the past. It is easy to fall into the trap of comparing yourself to someone else; it is all around us! We are expected to look, think, act, and talk like celebrities. This, though, is a sinkhole for a relationship.
Solution: Simply be yourself. If you snort when you laugh or joke about serious things as a way to cope, do not hide it! There may be adjustments to make within a marriage to ensure each partner is content and satisfied, but you should never feel pressured to be anyone but yourself. Smile with your teeth visible and proudly be who you are with your partner. Be honest about who you are, the good and the bad, with your spouse and your marriage will likely flourish.
Wrench 3 – “But They Do That…”
Your marriage is unique and wholly individual. Comparing you and your spouse to other marriages can get ugly. Only the two of you know what happens behind your closed door. The arguments, the sex, the romance – unless you share those things with others, they might never know. Conversely, you will not know those things about others unless they share it with you! A seemingly perfect marriage on the outside may be a front for frustration, anger, and constant discontent.
Solution: Do not expect your marriage to be like any other – let it be special and unique!There may be wisdom to glean from the relationships of others, and it is not necessarily wrong to reach out to close friends or family for suggestions about how to improve communication and connectedness with your spouse. But remember that what works for others may not work for you, and vice versa.
Wrench 4 – Daily Living
It is hard not to become envious of the extravagant and seemingly perfect lifestyles of others. Whether it is owning a boat and several cars, the building of a “dream home”, or having multiple children without financial struggle, what seems to be a flawless lifestyle to you may very well be a life full of struggle and difficulty. What you see on the surface may not be a reflection of what lies underneath.
Solution: Choose not envy the possessions or lifestyle of others. Instead, be joyous and celebrate their ability to be successful! While you and your spouse may not have the lifestyle you desire at this time, it can become a mutual goal toward which to work. Dream together about what you want for your future instead of focusing on your jealousy or envy. It can be difficult at times not to wish you had the privileges of others, but working together as a team to accomplish goals is much more satisfying.
Life together will be about choices. Make the choice to work together as a team rather than using the past or others as a litmus test for your success as a couple. Work toward goals together; dream and look to the future without worrying about what those around you may think. In the end, happiness and contentment within the relationship is much more important than pleasing those who belong on the outside of it.