At the time I was getting married, so too were a lot of my friends. All of us shared together in the “engaged” stage. Now we share our experiences in the “newlywed” stage. We talk about how our relationship has changed (or not) before and after marriage. We talk about what it’s like being a husband or wife vs. being a boyfriend or girlfriend. We talk about how things are going in general–the good, the bad, the highs, the lows, the triumphs and the struggles. And of course, we get a chance to see how we interact with our significant other (at get-togethers) in the post-wedding phase!
I’m sure if you have friends in the same life stage as you, you may be doing the same thing.
During these times though, it can be very tempting to compare your relationship with your spouse, with your friend’s relationship to their spouse. To you, it may seem as though your friend has THE perfect marriage or THE perfect spouse. You may even think that something is wrong with your marriage or spouse, because your relationship is not as great as theirs seems. While these couples are happily floating along in their first year of marriage, you feel like your swimming against the current.
When you start feeling like this, STOP, and take a moment to reflect on this…
You never really know what goes on in another person’s relationship. Often times, a person (unless they are a trusted friend of yours, or just a complainer in general) won’t usually air their dirty laundry in public. Most couples (particularly those who just said their I Do’s) never want to let on that things aren’t as great as they thought it would be. Perhaps because they feel that they made a mistake, or that their spouse isn’t who they thought he / she was and they made the wrong choice, or they jumped into things too fast, or just are not cutout for marriage etc. Whatever the reason may be, they may feel embarrassed to share it. So all they share is the positive that goes on. (In a way that’s good, I don’t think you should be putting down your spouse to others, but that’s a discussion for another blog post!) They may also interact with their spouse differently in public, than in private.
All this may make your friend’s relationship seem so great to you. After all, you really only know what they are telling or showing you. That’s all you have to go on. On the flip side, you know everything there is to know about your own relationship: the good, the bad and the ugly. So when you make the comparison between what you are being told or what you are seeing, with what you know about your own relationship, of course you may feel that your marriage or spouse is not as perfect as theirs! I bet that your friends may feel the same about you, your spouse and marriage, precisely because you come across the same way to them!
I remember one time us kids had a frank, honest discussion with our parents about our relationships now that we were married. When my husband and I spoke about our relationship, our siblings (but not our parents who are married 30 odd years) were surprised. Apparently to our siblings, it seemed as though my husband and I never had any disagreements or struggles. We seemed like the perfect couple! (I was flattered that they thought this and was partly sad that we burst their bubble!) But basically, they were reassured to know that we weren’t. Similarly, we thought they too were perfect couples. We were reassured to know that they were also going through the same things we were!
Lessons learned? Don’t compare your marriage to other couples—you never really know what goes on behind closed doors.