Comparing yourself to others

At this point we likely all know that it’s silly to compare yourself to others. It’s silly to compare your kids to others, and it’s silly to compare your marriage to others. But it’s also kind of impossible not to do, at least subconsciously.

My wife and I have struggled in the passion department since becoming parents (and a little bit before then, too). There are a hundred reasons why, and we are doing our best to work on it. But I’m also pretty content with our relationship, so the pressure I feel to get more passionate (and less companionate) is mostly just related to wanting to make my wife happy. However, sometimes we hang out with one particular couple who makes us feel like shit about our marriage.

They’re wonderful people and would never intend for us to feel less than when we’re around them, but we can’t avoid comparing. They are so incredibly lovey and smoochy and they whisper sweet nothings to each other when we’re all out to dinner – and they’ve been married for over a decade and have 2 kids. We’ve known them for almost as long as they’ve been parents, and they’ve always been like this. We walked home from a double date with them last night and ended up bickering about how we’re not in love like they are.

Here’s how this relates to motherhood for me: our friends admitted that they love each other more than they love their kids. I’ve heard of this from others before, and I can see how this priority would strengthen a family unit, but I cannot relate. And it sucks for my wife, because I think she can relate. Since I became a mom, I have loved my child with every ounce of my being. It put the love I had for my wife – which I’d thought was intense – into perspective. Love for your spouse can be strong and true and deep, but for me, it still can’t even hold a candle to my love for my child.

That’s a sticking point in my marriage, I think. An unspoken sticking point. It’s never easy to make everyone in your family feel equally loved. All I can do is keep working on making my wife feel loved as best I can. I may not feel affectionate these days, but I can only hope that will pass and I’ll start to once again feel the kind of passionate love that my wife needs to feel.

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9 thoughts on “Comparing yourself to others

  1. It’s like I wrote this myself, minus having friends like yours. I love my kids more than anyone else in the world, myself and hubby included. We’ve also struggled in the intimacy department since shortly before we started fertility treatments. It’s hard. And because it’s been so long, and it’s so hard, it makes it awkward as well. No real advice, but I completely understand where you’re coming from.

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  2. I’ve been thinking about this lately. I don’t think it’s fair to compare love of one’s kid with love of one’s spouse any more than it’s fair to compare love of either of those things to love of one’s parent. I hate to invoke the apples and oranges cliche but…they really are different number lines, no absolute values across the board.

    One thing I find empowering is to remember that we choose to love our spouses in a way we never can with our children (or parents). With the family we are born into or are born to us, it’s pretty much an opt out situation if we choose to forgo/abandon that love, whereas with our spouses we make a conscious decision to opt into the relationship every day. And that’s harder sometimes, to make that choice, but the difficulty makes it all the more powerful when we do. And that’s worth a lot.

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  3. Oh! Forgot to say…

    Equal love is tricky. It’s something parents of more than one child struggle a lot with, I think. Someone told me it’s impossible to love your kids equally, but it *is* possible to love them equitably. I never extended that to spousal love until just now, though.

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  4. Lemon Drop nailed loving children and loving spouse as different. But both involve a ‘decision to love’ and that decision can change. Which I am not advocating for you!!!!
    Being together takes attention. Think back to that initial falling in love point. Really looking into each other’s eyes, holding hands, really listening, talking about ideas and dreams, touching the other person simply in passing, smiling at each other, sitting with a body part touching not talking, telling the wonder of the other. And then practice the doing, sharing, being and togetherness; it’s about presence. It takes time, attention, courtship. Children grow and leave home very soon, your marriage is for lifetimes together.
    PS: As an ancient one, I have noticed, sometimes, those couples who are most openly in the presence of others, loveydovey …. aren’t really on the same page and their relationship in private may not be as it appears in public. But, I am old and have heard about many relationships over time, there can be many reasons for actions. Never judge insides versus outsides, or your value/competency/love by your insides versus other people’s outsides.

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  5. Ugh, we have so many friends with a lot of money. Obscene money. Neither of us spends our days wishing we were rich – but, man, get us with these couples and suddenly we’re moody, dramatic teenagers. All this is to say I think when couples get together it can just pull out those deep anxieties/frustrations/longings that you just don’t have time to think about when you’re in the day-to-day churn of life. I also tend to agree with Rose – who knows what these two are life at home. 🙂

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