We all like to compare things. Our house is smaller than Amy’s (but bigger than Jen’s!). Our hair is thicker than Margie’s but thinner than Pam’s. On and on it goes. “Comparison is the thief of joy,” as they say and yet we still do it. Even our spouses. But now, a new study has revealed how we can stop comparing our spouses to others once and for all.
Let’s face it: No one’s spouse is perfect and it is very easy to compare, especially when Facebook is so readily in our face. We see our friends getting flowers and trips away and beaming in their husband’s arms. Why doesn’t our husband make dinners like that? Why can’t he take our kids out for the day and let us rest?
A new study — “Comparing You = Comparing Me: Social Comparisons of the Expanded Self” — was published in the July issue of the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. It looks at how we compare our spouses and also has an important lesson on how to protect our spouses from that wrath. We compensate. For instance, if we see a husband that cooks really well, we might say to ourselves: “well my husband doesn’t cook because I love to.” In other words, we view our own strengths against our spouse’s and that takes the sting our of comparison. We all have our strengths, after all.
The truth is, in a good marriage, that’s just the truth. For instance, my husband hates doing the dishes and laundry, so by and large, I do them. When I hear of other husbands who do those things at home, I am not envious. Because I know my husband is stellar with the children, loves to cuddle me, and always makes me feel attractive. I don’t love laundry and dishes, but I don’t mind them. Meanwhile, he picks up a lot of the tasks I hate, like food prep and bath time. It’s called a marriage.
The best thing we can do for our spouses is to pick up their slack and balance each other out. Is it denial? I don’t think so. It’s called team work and the best marriages practice it. So the next time you find yourself thinking the grass is greener, just remember this: It probably isn’t. Think of all the ways you complement one another and you’ll be on your way to happiness.