What if I told you there is a threat to every marriage that’s more dangerous than all others? There’s one temptation so insidious, it can take the sweetest parts of your story and spoil them. It can take your happiest days and make them bitter. It can take your most memorable experiences and make you wish you could forget them.
What has this kind of power in a relationship? Comparison.
Comparison is one of the biggest threats to happiness in any marriage. Unfortunately, most of us have an endless capacity to make ourselves miserable through comparison.
What Can Be Compared
I’ve seen many couples slip into the dangerous temptation of comparing their stories to others. We compare our ages, attractiveness, dates, engagements, weddings, houses, children, vehicles, incomes, social circles, gifts, compliments … the list goes on and on.
We live in an age where it is too easy to gaze into another’s life and wish we had what they had. It may seem innocent enough to linger over a friend’s Facebook pictures, but deep in our hearts, evil is brewing. We look longingly at what others have, and wonder why it isn’t ours.
You Shall Not Covet
The Bible calls this act of comparison “coveting,” and the Ten Commandments God gave to Moses prohibit it:
“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” —Exodus 20:17
Of all of God’s commands, this might be one of the least understood and least followed in our day. Coveting often starts as comparison, and then grows in a discontented heart. It draws us to not appreciate what we’ve been given, but to nurture an endless desire to have what others have.
Like children at Christmas who can’t be happy with their own gifts because they aren’t as good another’s, we dishonor God by failing to be grateful for what he’s given.
The reason comparison is so harmful is that it is a relationship killer. Marriages are built upon mutual love and appreciation. But these qualities can’t grow where one person is constantly comparing it to other relationships or and trying to change their spouse into someone else. Comparison often shows itself when we demand that others change to fit an image of perfection that we have in our minds. It is self-serving and selfish.
Killing Comparison With Gratitude
So how can you fight against the temptation to compare and covet?
The best way is to cultivate a regular discipline of gratitude. Every day, write down all the things you are thankful for and meditate on everything you’ve been given. This practice sets your heart on all the good things God has brought into your life, and teaches you not to focus on the things he’s given to others.
Psalm 104 says, “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise.” When we make a regular practice of coming to God with thanks and praise, our hearts will be satisfied in God and in all that He has given us. This gratitude will stir up true contentment and remind you of what makes your marriage strong.
Theodore Roosevelt wisely said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” If we want to be truly happy in our lives and in our relationships, we must learn to lay aside comparison and replace it with gratitude for all we’ve been given.
You may also be interested in How To Be Humble In An All-About-Me Culture