Yesterday, June 4th, was my first wedding anniversary! As I reflect on all the ups and downs and in-betweens that marriage brought last year, I’m especially thankful for my girlfriends who are in the same season of life. Its so nice to get together and share awkward, sweet, and surprising stories about our new lives, asking funny questions like, “How many pregnancy tests have you taken so far?” With every awkward and funny story, there’s a longing in our hearts to hear an affirming laugh followed by an “OMG me too!”
We want to know that what we’re experiencing is normal. We want to know that we’re on the right track as newly wed wives, figuring out how to live with a boy, make enough leftovers, find a temperature we can all sleep happy in, and navigate routines and expectations.
Marriage is definitely a learning experience, and I know I’ve just reached the cuff. I can only imagine what I’ll continue to learn as the years go by. While much of the wisdom I’ve gained has come from experience, I can recall a number of things I wish I had known going into marriage.
If you’re reading this blog, there’s a chance that jealousy and comparison can get the best of you at times. There’s no shame in that- in fact there’s power in being able to recognize that within yourself. But I want you to know that if jealousy is a struggle for you individually, it is likely that jealousy will sneak its way into your marriage too. For all of my newly wed friends, ladies preparing to walk the aisle in a few months, or even the girl who’s dreaming for the day, I want to tell you about 3 unexpected people you may find your heart in jealous knots over during your first year as a Mrs..
I’m going to refer to these 3 people as Him, Her, and Them.
Him: The Man You Love And Admire
Would you believe me if I said that you may find yourself feeling jealous of him? Yes, your husband- the one who gave you diamonds on your finger and shared his last name with you. There may come a day when you find your heart in knots over the way someone compliments him or the talents and strengths that he has.
My husband possesses a number of qualities that I admire. For example…Quinn earns validity and respect from most people who know him. He is intelligent and, as his mother says, “wise beyond his years” yet carries himself with an attractive humility. These are qualities that I personally wish to possess, so it’s easy for me as his wife, to measure myself next to Quinn and become bitter or jealous of those qualities.
You may already know the sting of jealousy towards your guy…his role in the workplace, rapport with the kiddos, maybe even a special hobby or talent may sting at times.
But the irony of this is that the qualities we’re resenting are some of the very qualities we love most about our men. These qualities are part of the sum of what makes Quinn the man I love, and your guy the man you love. Our sin blurs our vision, twisting what we love into something to hate.
But this is what I’ve learned in this short year: Just as Quinn’s weaknesses are now mine, his strengths are mine too. We are a team! What I lack, Quinn shares. What Quinn lacks, I share. And what we both lack…well there’s grace for that. This is why “Two are better than one” as it is stated in Ecclesiastes 4:9-12. I could be jealous and angry over what makes Quinn great, or I can praise God because what makes Quinn a great individual now makes us great together.
When I’m jealous and comparing myself to my husband, I’m not viewing us as a team; I’m viewing us as two separate people competing for our own glory. In reality, God ordained us to be together, to mold one another in His likeness, and give Him the glory. So what is there really to be jealous of? I get to be sharpened by his strengths, and he gets to be sharpened by mine, as we come together to glorify the Lord in unity.
So when the moment comes that you ask yourself “Why can’t I be more like _______?” I hope you’ll remember this: You weren’t made to be like your hubby. You were made to be like Christ. And God is using your husband’s strengths to accomplish just that.
Her: The Wife You Wish You Could Be
In this first year of marriage, you might be jealous of other women. But not in the way you’d expect.
I want to be careful with this particular topic, because frankly, it is your husband’s job to treasure your heart, protect it, and not behave in a way that would cause you to question his faithfulness to you. Likewise, you are to behave the same as you treasure his heart. If your husband behaves in a way that is constantly making you jealous of other women, you may need to examine both of your hearts and have a conversation about that. However, even with a faithful man, jealousy still sneaks up on us.
There are times when I’m jealous of what I might not be able to offer my husband that, perhaps, another woman could. This is a silly example…but Quinn loves ice-skating and skiing, yet I hate both of these activities. Not only do I dislike them; I am absolutely terrible at both. I can give it my best shot, and he’ll love me for it, but I truly am no fun to do those activities with. So I might look at another girl I know who would be a better match for Quinn recreationally and feel jealous towards her. Its easy for me to look at all that I lack, and see all that she brings, and tell myself this lie that Quinn would be better off with her. [Insert, jealousy, bitterness, and shame]
I’m sure you’ve experienced this thought process before, literally picking out better contenders for your guy in your mind. And I believe deep down it comes from a place of love. You love your guy so much that you want him to have the perfect match, and it makes you feel guilty to think you might not be perfect enough. But that’s the flaw right there: you’re not expected to be perfect. Do you expect your husband to be perfect? No! You give him grace where he needs it. Now it’s time to give yourself some grace where you need it too.
Them: The Couple You Compare Your Relationship To
You know who they are. They might even be your best friends. And when you begin to have a conflict, the date-night doesn’t go as planned, or there’s a tension that needs to be addressed, you think in your mind, the Jone’s don’t possibly have this issue. They’re always smiling, always holding hands, always laughing and going on adventures. But the reality is that they’re probably saying the same thing about you.
You see a cute date night photo on Snapchat, but if that photo could talk, it would tell you the struggle of finding time in their workaholic schedule to be together for the first time in months.
You see a perfect couple sitting down the pew from you, who gave one another the silent treatment the ride to church that morning.
We compare our overflowing trashcan to our neighbor’s giant, monogrammed wreath hanging on their front door, forgetting that they mask the smell with a Yankee candle the same way we do.
Do you know why it’s always so powerful to hear someone who seems like she has it all together confess when she’s struggling? It’s because in that moment, we are reminded of our mutual humanity- that we’re all broken, on our way to be mended by the same Artist. Just like in your marriage, the only good that comes from theirs is thanks to the grace of Jesus.
Now that you’ve met Him, Her, and Them…what can you do?
- The world tells us to run from the strengths of others as to not risk exposing our weaknesses. Rather than fearing the strengths of others, we ought to draw near to those strengths, asking the Lord to sharpen us with those around us. “Lord let me be more like you thru the strengths of my friend…of my husband…of this couple.”
- Seek authenticity in relationships. There is power in “me too” moments. Show your neighbors your trashcan, and I bet you they’ll show you theirs. Then, you can take out the trash together.
- Trust that God made you a wife because He believed something good would come from it. When you feel disqualified, remember the great leaders and world changers of the bible who felt inadequate. You’re in good company, sister.
Whether you’re starting year two like me, celebrating 25, tasting cakes next month, or just dreaming of the day, I hope this gives you a little glimpse into marriage beyond the Insta-filters and the dreamy Pinterest expectations. While that “Mrs.” in front of your name doesn’t take away your brokenness, it doesn’t initiate a new expectation for perfection either. So relish in this time with the one you love. Accept the grace that’s give to you. Spur one another on to grow more like Jesus. And celebrate the unique gift of marriage that’s been given to you, exactly how you are.
With love & freedom,
Megan Dillman, Arclight Collective Photography