Why you should never ever, ever compare your husband to another man
Have you ever been scrolling through Facebook or Insta and notice how Jessica’s husband surprised her with a planned date night, but you can’t really remember the last time your husband planned… anything? Or maybe you just got done watching that classic romantic movie and you realize that your marriage is kind of totally lame compared Lou Clark and Will Traynor’s passion. Or maybe it’s not like that at all. Maybe you’re left wondering, knowing, that your friends’ husbands couldn’t possibly speak to them the way yours does to you.
Today I want to talk about the issue of comparison. I think we don’t often realize the effects of what we’re doing to our husband when we compare him to others; effects both on our own lives, and our husbands’.
How comparison will affect your husband
I think there’s a large population that really doesn’t understand just how much comparing a man to another man will affect him. One of the lowest blows you could ever deliver to a man is telling him you wish he were more like someone else.
We like to think that men are simple creatures and women are typically the complex ones who deal with comparison issues. I used to believe this was true, too. Until one day some of my own careless words hit a landmine issue that I never knew existed in my husband- and many many other men.
I had been talking about someone that we mutually knew and commenting on how this person was really great with his kids and a great dad in general. I could immediately tell what Josh was thinking: “Why don’t you just go ahead and tell me I’m not a great dad??” To which I spent the next 20 minutes back-tracking and reassuring him that he is ALSO a great father and just because I think this man is a great father, doesn’t mean I think Josh is any less of a father.
This was an easy example to share, but I have more, not-so-innocent examples of comparison that would be a lot harder for me to admit to.
To those of you who may have read this and are thinking “Sheesh! Stop being so insecure and get over it!”: I think many women can quickly write off this issue as just a character flaw in men that they need to deal with in their own time and not something we should have to be sensitive to. But let me help to make this a bit more relatable…
I think it comes all too naturally to a woman to be insecure about her body. We have this weird, intrinsic competition in our minds about how our bodies compare to the next girl. And while I love that our culture is moving in a more “body-positive” direction, this issue isn’t dead. This is the same with the insecurities the men in our lives have about the amount of respect they receive from others. In an ideal world, neither men nor women would have these insecurities, buuut in reality, we do! Just as we want men to be sensitive to our bodily insecurities ( I would be insecure if my husband were talking about how another woman had a great body, even if he had no intention of comparing her to me), we need to be sensitive about the insecurities of men, also.
Demoralize is pretty much just a big word for “discourage.” There’s nothing that drives a man more than knowing you believe in him, respect him, and have high expectations for him. If your husband hears that you wish he were more like someone else, his embarrassment will very likely cause him to pull away from you and revert inside himself. He could either feel like he has something to prove, or he may give up altogether. Different men would handle hearing themselves compared to other men differently, but like I said earlier, it would be an extremely low blow that would be hard to get back up from.
How comparison will affect us
If you try comparing your husband to another in order to get a certain result or changed behavior, don’t hold your breath. What will likely end up happening is now that you are wishing your husband were more like other men, you’ll start to get aggravated every time he is not more like other men. If you say to him, “Mark always gets his wife flowers on Fridays” and then your husband doesn’t get you flowers on Friday, you’ll begin to feel an inner resentment towards your husband for not being more like Mark. Or your other friend that does that other nice thing for his wife. Inevitably, you’ll begin to notice more and more how your husband is not like Mark, or that other guy, and you’ll begin to wish more and more that he was.
Fan the flame of more comparison
When you begin to compare your husband to others, you’ll soon start to notice more and more things about him that you wish were different. You may even begin to simply imagine that, of course, Mark would never talk to his wife that way. Or that Mark would never create more work for his wife by letting the dirty dishes get crusty from being left out. The truth is, you probably barely know Mark well enough to be able to tell what he is really like with his own wife. But you assume that how he acts towards others in public is the same way he chooses to act in private. Be careful to not romanticize what you do not know about a person. When comparing your husband to others, you may find yourself nitpicking even the smallest things that he may not even be aware of. Ultimately, if you hide these comparisons in your heart without dealing with them, they will build resentment like we talked about in the last paragraph. But if you verbalize them, you risk wearing at your husband with an unforgiving, naggy attitude.
Make us feel entitled to better
If we allow feelings of comparison to go on without proper treatment, they will eventually produce a sense of entitlement. We’ll begin to feel like we deserve someone more like Mark or that other guy. Instead of asking our husband to rinse his dirty dishes, we will simply shake our head and wish once more that he was more like ____ .
It could be that you’re not comparing your husband to another man at all. You may simply be comparing him to an idealized version of the husband you thought you’d have. When your husband turns out to have flaws, ones that aren’t so cute as you may have thought they’d be when you dated, you begin to wonder why he isn’t more like the man you imagined and hoped for.
The ugly part of comparison (besides just the ugliness that comparison is) is that we very conveniently will forget to compare ourselves to someone who may seem kinder, or more hard-working than ourselves. We usually will have the expectation to be loved and accepted- flaws and all- but will hold our husband to high, romanticized standards that very little men can realistically live up to.
This is honestly why I hate most chick-flick, romantic movies. I’m sorry, I don’t mean to be a Debbie Downer 🙁 But when I see women filling their mental “dream-boards” with unrealistic expectations for men where their only flaws are cute and endearing, I just want to yell out, “Just you wait!” This isn’t to say, either, that I have a pessimistic view of men and all of them are bound to disappoint our expectations. Not at all. There are ways in which I’ve really had to make some expectation adjustments for my husband in order to show him extra grace where he needed it. But there are other ways where he has totally blown my expectations out of the water where I never would have expected!
Let’s get real. What can we do when we feel comparison creeping in?
If I feel I am beginning to compare my husband to unrealistic expectations, whether I got them from a romanticized ideology or another man, I try to remember to see him how Christ sees him. Before knowing Christ, we would have been held to the standard of Christ- i.e. perfection. But since Christ died for us, when we are judged by God, He sees Christ in our place, making it so all of our shortcomings are forgotten and God only sees perfect Jesus who lives in us.
This is not to say that we don’t have expectations for our husband or that we never need to ask him to improve. It’s the same way with all Christians. Even though God sees Christ in us and our sins are forgotten, that doesn’t mean we are free to keep sinning, knowing that it won’t be counted against us.
Romans 6:1 and 2 says,
“Should we continue in sin so that grace may multiply? Absolutely not! How can we who died to sin still live in it?”
So when you wish your husband’s actions were different, do these things:
- Remember your own flaws and that you can’t expect your husband to have it all together.
- View him how Christ views him, with grace, love, and forgiveness. But also with standards.
- Ask yourself if the behavior change is truly necessary, or just something that will discourage your husband.
- Speak to him openly and honestly. Give him the benefit of the doubt, but be honest about how his actions make you feel.
- Be specific about what you would like to see change and what your husband can do differently. This is VERY important. I think many times we can just stop the conversation at how our husbands made us feel and then let them try to read our minds for how we’d specifically like them to change. Give your husband scenarios and examples. Men aren’t stupid, but they’re not mind-readers either.
- Ultimately call him to be more like Christ, not just a better person. If you and your husband truly strive to be more like Christ, issues of selfishness and comparison will eventually fall away as you both attempt to love each other in the redemptive way that Christ loves us.
Have you dealt with issues of comparison in your own marriage? Was it with others who you wished your husband was more like, or an idealized, romanticized image in your mind? What did you do to work out the issues of comparison in your own marriage? As ALWAYS, I’d love to hear your own thoughts and stories in the comments below!
Love you all!