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Take the Dare, Don’t Compare

danseabornI once heard someone say that if you always compare yourself to others then there are more opportunities to make excuses. When I heard that, I thought how true that statement is when it comes to evaluating your marriage, family and your life in general. It's so easy to either boost yourself up or tear yourself down depending on your perspective.

Start with your marriage. It's normal for married couples to ask other couples about how they do things at home, like for example how household chores are handled. You might ask them who in the marriage is responsible for cooking, cleaning, mowing the lawn, or doing laundry. The problem is when you start those kinds of inquiries, you take the chance that how you and your spouse are functioning in your house is suddenly wrong. She wonders why he can't do the laundry if her friend's husband does it at their house. He thinks he's getting the short end of the stick because his wife has never even pulled the cord on their mower, but his friend's wife mows the lawn all the time. All of this comparing creates dissatisfaction in a relationship that seemed perfectly satisfactory before.

Another way the comparisons could be damaging, is when they cause you to make excuses as to why your marriage isn't as good as you now perceive another couple's marriage to be. People think having a lot of money, or being children of divorced parents, or other similar excuses are the reason some couples do or don't have a great marriage, when in fact it more than likely boils down to one or both spouse are simply not doing their part, despite outside influences.

When you look at your relationship through the eyes of others, you will see things differently, and that can take away from what is uniquely your own brand. It's dangerous territory because it will lead to discontentment in your marriage.

The same situation could occur with your children. When you compare your children's grades or accomplishments with another parent's kids, you run the risk of discounting your own child's achievements. They may always feel like they don't measure up to your expectations. They will see your eyes light up at hearing about another child's success and they'll wish you could get excited about what they've done.

Each person has their own special abilities and talents and your children's abilities might not be what you were expecting. Everybody probably knows someone who was a big athlete in high school but their own kids don't have any interest in sports. There's a mom somewhere who loved dancing as a child, but her own daughter has two left feet. Yet these children have a lot to offer. Hopefully their parents will look beyond their comparisons to themselves and others and find the joy and uniqueness in their own flesh and blood.

There is no question that comparisons breed discontentment, so what can you do to stop it? While saying you'll never compare again might be unrealistic, you can at least make an effort to curb your comparisons when you find yourself starting to judge. Another idea is to write down or think about all the great attributes your spouse and children possess and focus on those positives. Take time to compliment your family members on what they continue to do right and understand that no two people or relationships will ever be the same.

Take the dare and don't compare!
Author Information
Dan Seaborn
Dan Seaborn is the founder of Winning At Home, Inc., an organization designed to assist and encourage people of all ages and stages of family development. As a featured speaker at churches and large-scale events such as marriage conferences, corporate functions, and university assemblies, Dan Seaborn has earned recognition as a powerful and passionate communicator. Through practical illustrations and memorable real-life examples, he encourages individuals and families to lead Christ-centered homes.

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