I’ll never forget the dinner party from you-know-where. We had a few couples over for dinner and games. One of the couples wasn’t getting along, and everyone felt it from the moment they arrived. Things came to a head when Eric refilled my soda without my asking him to.
“Look!” the wife said, angry and pointing at me. “Eric brings Angela drinks.” She turned on her husband. “How come you never do that for me?”
The chattering in the room screeched to a halt with this shrill accusation. I remember making eye contact with Eric, and saw that he was thinking the same thing as me. Oh no.
“Well,” her husband said, “Maybe if you acted more like Angela, I would bring you drinks!”
That was what we jokingly referred to later as the shot heard round the world. A huge fight ensued and our fun night ended with the couple leaving, still angry at each other and undoubtedly with hurt feelings. The rest of us were in shock. Talk about awkward!
Though there were other elements at play, the detonation point was the comparisons they had made. No one wants to hear that you aren’t as good a husband or wife as so and so. And while most of us won’t outwardly say so at a dinner party, we’re all guilty of thinking or saying these things from time to time.
When it comes to comparisons wives tend to make, I see four common ones.
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1. Comparing Him to Other Men
Whether out loud or in our minds, comparing our husband to other men is so hurtful, and it’s unfair to him, too. He doesn’t need to hear about how so and so is smarter, or more fit, or better with money, or great with kids. How would you feel if he compared you to other women and found you lacking?
This goes for fictional men, too. There have been seasons in my life when I’ve had to stop watching certain television shows because I couldn’t stop comparing my husband to the characters on the show. Though I wasn’t outwardly admitting it, I was getting in a bad mood because my husband never said the things these dreamy husbands on TV said. Surely he didn’t love me as much as they loved their fictional wives. And while that sounds absolutely crazy now, I don’t think it’s uncommon. Avoid shows and books if you find yourself feeling discontented after reading or watching them.
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2. Comparing How He Shows Love
All men show love differently. While some men might effusively praise their wives publicly, others may do quiet acts of service. One might lavish gifts upon his woman, and another may bring her coffee every morning.
When Eric and I had our first baby together, he didn’t bring me flowers or jewelry or anything. And I didn’t let him hear the end of this for years. Other women would show off the jewelry they got for having their babies and I would get irritated all over again. It’s not as if I was a materialistic wife and just wanted things. In fact, I hadn’t even considered this tradition until my baby was several months old. Suddenly, it was a gaping hole of what my husband had not done for me.
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"I was so loved by him, and my thoughts were just too clouded with comparison to see it."
Then one day I was talking with somebody about the first thing you eat after having a baby and how it always tastes so good because it’s usually been a couple days since you had any food. And I told them about how after my daughter was born, my husband went to my favorite Mexican place and brought a burrito to me in the hospital. Halfway through my sentence, I just started laughing.
My husband hadn’t showered me with expensive gifts, but he had taken a week off work to stay home and help out. He had driven to the pharmacy in the middle of the night when I needed something. And he had brought me that blessed burrito.
I was so loved by him, and my thoughts were just too clouded with comparison to see it. (And yes, I apologized to my husband for my attitude.)
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3. Comparing Ourselves to Other Women
No good comes of this. There is no point. There will always be someone prettier, skinnier, curvier, sweeter, godlier, smarter, richer, happier, more generous, and with better hair to boot. Seeher blessings as just that, gifts from God. You have your own gifts from God, so let’s not diminish their value by coveting what He’s given to others.
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4. Comparing Our Marriage
Just recently, I’ve seen the following on social media: A husband posted photos of an elaborate scavenger hunt he planned for his wife. A wife shared photos of her couples-workout with her husband, complete with matching workout shirts. A heroic husband spontaneously went on a dangerous trip to help people in need, while his wife happily held down the fort at home.
Sometimes, scrolling through these posts, I stop and think, What. The. Heck? Do people really live like this? I mean, the most exciting thing we did in the last month was go out for breakfast. And we most certainly did not wear matching shirts.
And it’s not limited to social media.
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"...it made me feel a little less loved."
A couple of years ago, we went out for an evening with another couple. The wife is a good friend of mine, and our husbands were just getting to know each other. All night, the husband was hugging and kissing his wife. And not in a gross or inappropriate way, just in a sweet way. She was clearly loved. And I have to admit, it made me feel a little less loved. Sure, my husband and I held hands while walking, but other than that, there wasn’t much PDA going on.
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"...the enemy loves to steal our joy..."
A couple of days later, I told my friend that I had almost been jealous of their lovey-dovey ways, and she darkly said, “Don’t be.” She then proceeded to tell me that she had found out her husband had betrayed her on the very day of our double date. He was trying to earn her favor back by showering her with affection, and it was actually making her sick.
I felt terrible. I should have realized something was off with my friend that night, but I didn’t pick up on it. Probably because I was so busy analyzing my comfy marriage and wondering why my husband didn’t hang all over me anymore.
“Comparison is the thief of joy,” as Theodore Roosevelt reportedly said, and oh, how the enemy loves to steal our joy and take our focus off the needs of those around us! Let’s make it a little harder for him, shall we?
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Determine to let go of comparisons and choose joy instead. A joyful woman is a truly beautiful woman.
Praise God, think good thoughts, listen to uplifting music, get your body moving, and be thankful. Keep up the good work and fight the good fight. Your joy is worth it. Not to mention how blessed your husband will be when you stop letting comparisons into your marriage.
This article is an excerpt from Bless Your Husband by Angela Mills. Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group, ©2018. Used by permission.
Angela Mills began blogging in 2008 and has written more than sixty articles for magazines and websites. She also runs a Facebook group for thousands of Christian wives. Angela has been married to her best friend, Eric, for eighteen years and is a homeschool mom and proud grandma. Angela and her family live in Southern California with their dog, Lucy McGillicuddy Ricardo Mills.
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Originally published Wednesday, 26 December 2018.