Comparing ourselves and what we have to others; yes we know it happens and if we are honest we’ll admit that we catch ourselves doing it from time to time. We live in a culture that thrives on getting us to do just that; compare ourselves and what we have with the people around us. Advertisers have us feeling like what we have isn’t enough (compared to what others have) and then they solicit us to acquire more ‘stuff’ to help us ‘measure up’. So it isn’t surprising when a person finds themselves comparing their relationship with somebody else’s.
Comparing our relationship with the relationships of others is a recipe for disaster. The act of comparing involves looking at what you have, then looking at what another person has, looking back at yourself and questioning if you’re up to par. It is a set up, because if you come out on top today, I can promise you that tomorrow, or the next day, or the day after that you won’t be coming out on top. Eventually you will walk away feeling that your relationship doesn’t measure up or isn’t somehow good enough based on how you see others relationships to be. This becomes a problem because all we can do from the outside looking in is ‘perceive’ what’s going on in another persons relationship, only the people in that relationship truly ‘KNOW’ what is going on. Even when people speak about their marriage, we must consider that they don’t typically boast about what isn’t working for them, but will broadcast what IS going well, and keep their struggles to themselves.
So we must be mindful not to make adjustments in our relationship based on what we THINK is going on in someone else’s. Instead of comparing our relationship with others I encourage couples to focus in on the areas that they are having difficulty, and look to improve them in a creative way that will be unique to THEM, as another couples solution may not fit for them and could in fact cause more harm than help.
With regards to having mentors in our lives who can help guide us in our relationships I think that these kind of relationships can be helpful and supportive if done by a couple who is ‘seasoned’ and can appreciate the uniqueness that each couple possesses, and desires to help them build on their strengths, and use these strengths to improve areas needing growth in their marriage. This defines a healthy and helpful mentoring relationship.