As I was writing last week’s post (read it HERE) I gave an example of how comparison is often very subtle at first. While I was giving that example the Lord started speaking to me about marriage and how comparison can be deadly to a marriage.
I would say most of us go into marriage with rose colored glasses on, thinking and believing the best about the man, or woman, we’re going to marry. It isn’t until months, sometimes years into marriage that we start realizing our spouse isn’t who we thought they would be, or who we want them to be.
Instead of looking at ourselves and what could be wrong with us, and our expectations, we blame. We blame our lack of fulfillment, our lack of wholeness and our lack of satisfaction on our spouse – the one who is supposed to “complete us”. Blaming can quickly turn to resentment and resentment causes us to look around at what others have.
We start comparing our marriage to our friends’ marriages. We think, “well her husband buys her flowers so he must love her more. I wish my husband would buy me flowers.” Or we think, “her husband holds her hand in public, he must really know how to love her. I wish my husband still loved me and was affectionate with me.”
Or we compare our husband to that sweet guy at work, the one who seems to really listen when we talk, who holds the door open for us, and who seems to light up when we walk in the room. We spend our days daydreaming about what it would be like for our husband to see us the way he does, or we take it one step further and we imagine how much happier we’d be if we could be with him, instead of our husband, who doesn’t even seem to notice us anymore.
All of these “I wish. . .” thoughts quickly lead down a slippery slope and before we know it our comparison has lead us to close our heart off to our spouse. We no longer see the things we actually do have in our marriage, because all we can see is what others have and what we don’t have.
Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.” James 1:14-15 (NLT)
I love the way Melissa Kruger says it in The Envy of Eve, “[Our] unfaithfulness comes from a lack of contentment in what God has given [us].” Our temptation, our comparison, our discontentment are there because we aren’t thankful for what we already have.
When we allow all those things to creep into our marriage it will never lead anywhere good, it always leads to death. I’m not talking about a physical death, I’m talking about the death of a vow, of a promise, of faith, etc.
The book of Proverbs is packed full of verses talking about mistresses, cheating, etc. because the enemy hates marriage and will do everything in his power to destroy what God has brought together.
When a [woman] finds a [husband], [she] has found a treasure! For [he] is the gift of God to bring [her] joy and pleasure. But the one who divorces a good [man] loses what is good from her house. To choose an adulterer is both stupid and ungodly.” Proverbs 18:22 (tPt)
“Sex with and adulterer is like falling into the abyss. Those under God’s curse jump right into their own destruction.” Proverbs 22:14 (tPt)
I think Hebrews 13:4-5 (tPt) is so interesting and here’s why. Hebrews 13:4 says,
Honor the sanctity of marriage and keep your vows of purity to one another, for God will judge sexual immorality in any form, whether single or married.”
and in the very next verse, the author says,
Don’t be obsessed with money but live content with what you have, for you always have God’s presence.”
We know how easy it is to compare our possessions, and this verse points out how easy it is for us to get caught up doing the same thing with our marriage!
It all boils down to us not being content with what we have, not being thankful for what God has given us in a spouse. In our covetous mind there is always something better, always something the Lord is holding back from us. But that’s not truth speaking, that’s the enemy lying to us. The second half of Hebrews 13:5 says,
For God has said, I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.“ (NLT)
I want to go back to something I said at the beginning of this post. The world, and Tom Cruise, have taught us that we are supposed to find a spouse who will “complete” us. But there’s nothing true about that statement. We aren’t supposed to find someone to complete us, we’re supposed to go into marriage whole, completely filled by the Lord, confident in who we are meant to be.
So many marriages fail because it turns out the husband couldn’t “complete” his wife (or vice versa). So instead of a happily ever after, the wife ends up grasping at straws still unsure of who she is, still unsatisfied because her husband couldn’t give her everything she needed to be whole.
But Proverbs paints a very different picture,
When you live a life of abandoned love, surrendered before the awe of God, here’s what you’ll experience: Abundant life. Continual protection. And complete satisfaction!” Proverbs 19:23 (tPt)
This is one of my favorite verses in all of scripture because it paints such a beautiful picture of truth. When we live our lives surrendered to the Lord, He gives us life, protection and complete satisfaction! There’s no fine print after this verse, it doesn’t say, “except for in marriage” or “except for in your finances” because when we truly surrender everything in our lives to the Lord we will experience complete satisfaction and the wholeness that nothing else will ever fill.
If you want a beautiful marriage, and you want to be desired and loved by your spouse, then you’re going to have to fight for it.
Beautiful marriages don’t just happen by accident, they are fought for on purpose.
Don’t just wish your husband would be a better spouse, YOU be a better spouse! YOU work on YOU. Don’t worry about the speck in your [husband’s] eye, worry about the log in your own! (Matthew 7:3)
The only way to do that is to surrender yourself to the Lord. It doesn’t matter how far down the path of adulterous thoughts you’ve gone, the Lord can handle it. He won’t just “handle it”, if you ask Him, He’ll forgive you and take them away. Don’t let your story end in death because you were afraid and ashamed, give all of it, every piece of your comparison and covetous nature, to the Lord and let Him show you a different path, one filled with wholeness, love, passion and a marriage worth fighting for.
I truly believe as husbands and wives, it should be our desire to be like the Proverbs 31 wife. I’m going to close with this and as you read it I want you to imagine yourself being the husband, or wife, that these verses describe, YOU work on YOU, not on your spouse.
Who could ever find a wife like this one – she is a woman of strength and mighty valor! She’s full of (spiritual) wealth and wisdom, the price paid for her was greater than many jewels (Christ’s death and resurrection). Her husband has entrusted his heart to her, for she brings him the rich spoils of (spiritual) victory. All throughout her life she brings him what is good, and not evil. She searches out continually to possess that which is pure and righteous.” Proverbs 31:10-13 (tPt) (Parenthesis are my own additions/interpretations)
If you are struggling in your marriage I highly recommend these books (click on them to take you to Amazon), my husband and I have read them multiple times over our 13+ years of marriage. I also highly recommend going through Love After Marriage, we’ve gone through it and lead a group through it. You can find if there’s one taking place in your area on their website HERE.