Jill: Since the release of my book No More Perfect Moms, I’ve spent the past four years asking moms to stop comparing their insides to other women’s outsides. When we do this, we perpetuate what I call the Perfection Infection where we have unrealistic expectations of ourselves and others and we unfairly compare ourselves to others.
Mark: We can do the same thing in our marriage. We can compare the insides of our marriage to the outsides of other marriages. And when we do, we usually come up with wrong conclusions. Take the recent media story about Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s divorce proceedings. They’ve appeared “perfect” on the outside, when in reality things were very different on the inside. Yet how many of us unknowingly compared our marriage insides to someone else’s marriage outsides (a celebrity, neighbors, couples at church, etc).
Jill: Comparison robs us of contentment. We often wrongly assume we’ve got it worse off than others so our contentment deteriorates as we make up an imaginary story in our head about other couples. It happens when we compare insides to outsides, but it also happens when we compare our real marriage to an imagined marriage in our mind. “Marriage shouldn’t be this hard.” “Someone else will love me better.”
Mark: I certainly did that and then tried to prove it with the new relationship I pursued. Interestingly enough, I ended up proving myself wrong. I found that many of the same issues began to arise in my new relationship as I had experience in my seasoned marriage.
Jill: This is spiritual warfare at its best. The Bible tells us that the enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). One of the best ways to destroy a marriage is to get one or both partners look away from their spouse. Whether that’s looking at someone else or “looking” at an imagined marriage, it fuels a divided heart and a damaging fade.
Mark: I didn’t realize it then, but looking back, I can see how I began leaving my marriage in my heart by simply entertaining these “comparing” thoughts. Each comparing thought fueled my discontentment. It separated my heart from Jill’s heart one centimeter at a time.
Jill: There are no perfect marriages. Every marriage has challenges. Many of us have to endure some kind of crisis in our marriages—pornography, deception, disagreement, medical challenges, parenting issues, personality differences, money, communication issues, physical intimacy, and more. We need to stop looking outside our marriage and start investing our head and our heart inside our marriage.
Mark: Jill and I recently sat down and talked with Dr. Juli Slattery of Authentic Intimacy about our marriage journey. If you’d like some addition encouragement on keeping your head and your heart engaged in your marriage, check out her last two podcasts that Jill and I participated in. You can find them here.
What about you? Where are you comparing the insides of your marriage to the outsides of other marriages or an imagined marriage in your head? Where do you need to stop looking away from your marriage and start focusing on your marriage?