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Apples to Diamonds

Apples to Diamonds

When comparisons spoil your marriage
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"If I'm honest, I always compare the worst parts of myself to the best parts of others," my friend, Wendy, said during Bible study years ago. She spoke this profound statement with such humility that I almost didn't glean the pure wisdom it offered. With time its words penetrated the deepest parts of my soul. Wendy shared about comparing the not-so-pleasant aspects of her inner life to the pristine perception she had of other people. Of course, those compared won the competition they didn't even know they were part of. I remember Wendy's words because she brought a voice to the game I played without even being aware of it.

Dealing hands

The game goes further than that, though. The deck is shuffled and the cards are dealt when we get together with our girlfriends. As the conversation turns to things our husbands do, we begin looking at our hand, trying to decide if what they're saying trumps what, or who, we have.

"I can't believe Roger put my dry-clean-only blouse in the wash," Judy complains, while everyone else thinks, Roger helps with the laundry? I sure wish my husband did, even if he ruined a few shirts here and there. Without a spoken word, a winner—and therefore a loser—is declared.

The problem with this game is that when the other women get home, they often become agitated with their husbands.

The problem with this game is that when the other women get home, they often become agitated with their husbands.

"What did I do?" one husband inquires after his wife, Mary, snaps at him.

"Nothing," she retorts, meaning, "You do nothing." And then she secretly adds in a whisper so quiet she convinces herself that she didn't even think it, "If only you were more like Roger." The irony is Judy is talking to Roger, except she's wishing he were more like Mary's husband.

Determining the winners . . . and the losers

In a day when kids play games where everyone comes out a winner, we find ourselves succumbing to one in which no one wins: the one of comparisons. John Hamel said, "Comparison leads to pride or intimidation." This is true even in our marriages. When we compare our spouse to someone else, we walk away proud of our husband if we decide he is the winner . . . or intimidated, frustrated, and upset if we don't.

Our spouse can feel intimidated if we nominate someone else as the winner. He might not even know we played a game or that he lost, but he'll feel the result all the same. If we aren't careful, we start treating him with contempt and disdain as we wish the parts of him we see behind closed windows were more like the pristine exterior of a friend's spouse.

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Displaying 1–3 of 7 comments

Juraney Gaingos

April 29, 2014  10:45am

Thanks for the newsletter ,its very true and beautiful. i love it .Please do not stop what you do and remember there is always new wife on the market that might need this.

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Stacy Voss

April 28, 2014  4:02pm

Hannah, such beautiful insights! Thank you for sharing about the plus side of comparisons! Mr. Davis, I can hear the hurt in your words (and trust me, I get it!). I pray for healing in your heart. Cheryl, Flora and AnneMarie, thanks! Isn't it scary to realize how quickly we can begin to compare? I realized that I needed a non-comparing reminder today, too!

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Stokes Davis

April 28, 2014  12:23pm

After 19 years of marriage my wife called it quits. Many issues involved, but one thing I brought up to her was how she always denigrated me. I was constantly compared to this husband, that father. At the time, I wasn’t a Christian, she was. It was when I came to Christ the marriage dissolved. Selfish woman. She’s never owned up to her role in our breakup, constantly telling me I was at fault. (Satan didn’t break up our marriage, it was you.) Wow. Now in another relationship, she’s never addressed her character flaws.

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