Have you ever looked at someone else’s spouse and thought, “Oh how I wish my spouse…?” Or have you every looked at someone else’s marriage and thought, “Oh how I wish I had a marriage like that?” Then you found yourself less satisfied with your situation than you were before you went down that imagination trail? That’s the snare you can get trapped into when you are comparing marriages, particularly your marriage to someone else’s.
The Trap of Comparing Marriages
“Be on the alert,” is the message the Bible tells us in 1 Peter 5:7. The warning is “your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” How much do you think it will entertain the enemy of our faith if you are devoured by the monster of envy in your marriage? Actually, it will be a major victory against God’s ways of conducting ourselves. That is because the Bible says, “Do not covet.” So, “be on the alert” and don’t give in.
When you get caught up in comparing your life with someone else’s you slide down a slippery slope. This is a situation where your imagination can distort your perceptions. You can end up thinking the other person’s life is better than yours. But often your mind sees it as worse than it is in reality.
We got the idea for this Marriage Message from an article published in an issue of Marriage Partnership Magazine titled, The Compare Snare. It brought back a memory of something the Lord showed me years ago. God showed me that I am to keep my eyes on my own path.
I found myself envying others in their circumstances rather than putting my energy into living within mine.
Problems Arise in Comparing
But whenever I take my eyes off the path I’m walking on, and I start looking at another person’s path, I can stumble and fall. That is because my eyes are not directed where they should be. It distracts me from being “content whatever the circumstances” as the Apostle Paul states in Philippians 4. It’s important to keep in mind that the Bible says in Psalm 37:23-24, “If the Lord delights in a man’s way, he makes his steps firm. Though he stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.”
Do you really think the Lord will be delighted if we fall into the “compare snare” and covet what someone else has? The prayer of our hearts should be, “Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior and my hope is in you all day long” (Psalm 25:4-5). That’s pretty difficult to pray in a pure sense when we’ve got our eyes on someone else’s path and not our own.
On this subject in the above mentioned article, author Suzanne Woods Fisher writes:
“Comparing and coveting aren’t passive feelings. If unchecked, they can hurt us. …A pattern of comparing and coveting can take root in our thinking and become sinful. The Bible tells us to ‘take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ’ (2 Corinthians 10:5). Clearly, God is concerned with our thoughts.”
The problem occurs because “comparisons often distort our perceptions.” We can start to imagine other spouses and marriages as being less flawed and more perfect than they really are.
Comparisons can also lead us into temptation. Suzanne told of a woman named Linda who found this to be true. She writes:
“After 20 years, Linda felt like giving up on her marriage. Just at that point, along came a man blessed with gifts in areas (her husband) Tim lacks —their pastor. ‘He was gifted in communication and I felt a real connection with him,’ Linda says. ‘Soon I found myself looking for ways to spend more time with him. I was joining committees to be near him, dropping by events where I knew he’d be. I became preoccupied with our pastor. This caused frustration with Tim to grow exponentially.
“‘Without even being aware of it, I started to have an affair of the heart. This is something I never dreamed I’d be capable of. Finally God convicted me of what I was doing and how my thoughts were hurting my relationship with Tim and with God. I confessed my thoughts to Tim. And though we were able to work though it, we ended up leaving the church. Even though this emotional affair never progressed into adultery, I knew it could, given the right circumstances. And it all started with how I compared my husband to another man.’”
The Compare Snare
The “Compare Snare” may not personally lead you down the path of having an “affair of the heart.” But you never know when you start to allow yourself to imagine things you shouldn’t. Many who thought “it would never happen to them” tragically found out that it did.
The author Suzanne Fisher went on to tell how she began envying those who had nicer homes than hers. Suzanne wrote:
“We repainted rooms, replaced dead plants, and reshuffled furniture to fit the space.” … “I found my attitude changed, too. I began to focus on what I have. As a result I began to enjoy and appreciate our home. I noticed aspects of it I’d overlooked. I was surprised to find I became much less critical of others.”
She goes on to say,
“That same strategy works in marriage. When I pay attention to areas that need work and improvement, and appreciate what I do have rather than dwelling on what I don’t, I find myself enjoying a stronger, healthier marriage. The lesson to me is to take care of what I have, give thanks, and the right attitude will follow.”
Never allow your imagination to run away in useless wishing. Beware of dwelling on what might have been or what you think it should have been. Dwell on what it is and what it can be according to God’s plan for you.
“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God. And we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5)
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its same, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (Hebrews 12:1-3)
May you be successful in this mission, especially as it concerns your marriage.
Cindy and Steve Wright
– ALSO –
An additional article on this topic can be read at the link provided below:
More from Marriage Missions
Filed under: Marriage Messages