Most of us have some measure of a love/hate relationship with social media. We LOVE to see what other people are doing with their lives; how they live, how they vacation, how they dress, and how they love. But we ultimately HATE how all of this access into the lives of others makes us feel about ourselves and our own lives. These inevitable comparisons of our lives to the lives of others leave us with an unrealistic expectation of ourselves and our own lives. In short, we feel like we can never live up to the standards we perceive in the lives of others.
So, why do we do this? Why do we have a tendency to compare our lives with what seems to be an unattainable standard?
Inside vs. Outside
There is a mistake we all make when comparing our lives, marriages, beauty, etc. to that of others — without knowing it, we end up comparing our insides to the outsides of others. Let me explain. When you are looking at the lives of others, you typically only see the outside. This means that on Instagram, for example, you see only what someone else wants you to see — the images they choose to share with the outside world. On the other hand, when thinking about your own life, you are well-acquainted with the inside — your feelings about your life, your marriage, your percieved beauty, etc. Once you realize that you are comapring your inside with the outside of everone else, you can start to see how you are setting yourself up for failure in the comparison game, every time. This way of looking at things will always create an unattainable standard.
Don't ever compare your inside with anyone else's outside.
Who decided that they get to set your standards anyway?
Think for a minute about the standards you have set for your own life? Do you have any standards that you are aware of? Or maybe you are used to sort of drifting through life without them. Assuming you are aware of some standards in your own life, where do those standards come from? The old saying is still true, “If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything.” So, what do you stand for? What keeps you grounded and in touch with reality? I certainly hope it is something better than social media!
In your marriage, how can paying attention save you from the comparison game?
You know your spouse better than anyone, or, at least you should. Instead of getting sucked into someone else’s world on social media, learn to become an expert on your spouse’s world. Pay attention to your spouse and their world. Learn what they like and why. Learn about their fears as well as what makes them feel safe. Learn about what makes them feel the most loved and challenge yourself to serve them in those ways if possible. When you understand your spouse well enough that you can understand their feelings and why they do the things that they do, you will find that you are so busy learning about your spouse and loving them well that you simply won't have time to make unhealthy comparisons to someone else's life.
Let me be honest here, engaging with your spouse in this way is a simple concept, but living it out is not easy and will take even the most dedicated people years to consistently work this all out. Maybe this is one of the reasons that we should marry “for life.” Marrying for life is the only option that gives us enough time to fully know our spouses and BE fully known by them as well.
Now that you understand that you need to be spending more time fully knowing your spouse and less time thinking you know everyone else’s life on social media, get to it. The clock on your lifetime together is ticking and you don’t have another minute to waste!
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By Brad & Tami Miller. Contact us at brad@TandemMarriage.com. Copyright © 2021