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The Comparison Game

July 26, 2011

Imagine with me a new game show where a wife competes against her own husband in a “Comparison Game.”  These two start out seeming like a great couple.  They have all kinds of reasons to love each other, but then the “models” (neighbors, in-laws, co-workers, even celebrities) are brought in to display their various strengths and “attributes.”  Suddenly, their high esteem for each other starts to break down.  Sound familiar?  It’s nothing new, just the age-old problem of envy – wanting what someone else has.

And who wins in this game?  Say the wife ‘wins’ because she proves that the male models are more successful than her husband… does the husband suddenly become CEO like Bob because his wife accuses him of not being ambitious enough?  Or let’s say that the husband ‘wins’ because he can prove that the models are in ‘better shape’ than his wife… do the wife’s thighs suddenly shrink 5 inches because her husband likes the way Jane’s legs look (who btw is married to Bob, and has probably had several plastic surgeries)?  More importantly, do either of these contestants feel like putting in any particular effort for their spouse’s pleasure right now??  Not in a million years.

A very wise singer once sang “It’s not having what you want – it’s wanting what you’ve got.”  Ok, it was Sheryl Crow, but she makes an excellent point.  If you’re having difficulty seeing your spouse as worthy of your affection, it’s because you’ve been window shopping in other people’s stores. 

If you’re still not convinced that comparing your spouse to other people is hurtful and pointless, let’s have a look at the even more proven wisdom of the Bible:

Deuteronomy  5:21  Never desire to take your neighbor’s wife away from him.  Never long for your neighbor’s household, his field… or anything else that belongs to him.

Romans 13:9-10  The commandments, “Never commit adultery; never murder; never steal; never have wrong desires [also called “envy” in older translations],” and every other commandment are summed up in this statement: “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” [and before you start applying our society’s definition of “love” to justify envy continue on…]  Love never does anything that is harmful to a neighbor. Therefore, love fulfills Moses’ Teachings.

The most common issue in our society is the husband’s desire for his wife to appear more like the ‘models’ he’s constantly bombarded with images of.  It not only twists his view of his wife, but often his own ego is wrapped up in how he thinks other men will perceive his worth when she’s seen with him.  All of these issues are based on the same old lie:  that there is some sort of  ‘perfection’ we should all be achieving.  If you get nothing else from this, please hear this: perfection is an illusion (more on that in another blog).   And, although we can all use improving in many areas of our lives, love and grace are the best motivators – not insecurity via criticism.

Growing up, someone close to me had this problem, so I’ve heard every excuse for this particular comparison category.  Here’s one of the biggest (and most manipulative) ones…  it’s her health I’m concerned about (really, I swear!).   If her health is your concern your love for her will prove that.  If your desire for her is affected you’re having a comparison game problem.

How about this one:  men are visual, so I need her to look ‘better.’  If you don’t think she’s sexy enough, you’ve been playing the comparison game.  Your definition of sexy can and should be defined by what YOUR wife looks like, not by other ‘models.’  Afterall, the mind interprets what is sexy before the body responds, and you absolutely can control how you think about it.  If you’re experiencing this kind of disconnect from your wife, the most important thing to do is to stop looking around (that means no porn, no ogling, no fantasizing about other women’s bodies, period).   All of these habits only feed a mindset that, in the end, makes you feel emptier and her feel insecure.  And making your wife feel insecure actually negates her sexiest attribute – her confidence.  The other thing you have to do is to start actively noticing the ways that your wife is attractive.  It could be the way she laughs, her smile, her compassion, her playfulness… when you start noticing HER, her confidence will rise and you’ll be blown away at how sexy she really is! 

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