When I was married to a good man who struggled with addiction, one of my biggest battles was comparing my marriage to my friends’, family’s, and even strangers’ relationships.
There was one evening when I was on a date night with my husband. waiting to be seated at a Italian restaurant. I was nervous that he was going to order a drink because, as you know, one drink leads to two that leads to three and then there’s no stopping and the night is ruined.
I watched another couple walk by who were laughing and holding hands. They looked happy and ready to have a good time with each other.
I remember thinking, “I bet she doesn’t have to worry if he’s going to get drunk. He looks so responsible. He probably tells the truth and comes home when he says he will. I bet they take lots of vacations together and have a cute house. She probably does crafts with the kids and makes Halloween costumes by hand. I bet she even works out everyday with him. They probably go to the gym together. And he looks like the kind of guy who volunteers to coach Little League. He’s so dependable.”
Have you ever done this?
I had made up their entire story in my head and it sounded so much better than my own reality. And maybe I was right about some of those characteristics of their relationship and maybe I wasn’t.
Have you ever thought that someone has it “all together,’ only to get to know them and realize they struggle with things just like you do?
You love someone who has a disease. You could be the most perfect woman in the world, but it wouldn’t change the fact the one you love has to deal with their addiction.
It can be really easy to be resentful and insecure about the chaos that’s going on around you thanks to your partner’s drinking, drugs, pornography, or gambling issues.
But do you really think there’s a couple out there who doesn’t have problems?
Comparing Your Relationship With a Healthy Couple
Try to think of one relationship you know that is perfect. Do you have them in mind? Now ask yourself – would you be happy in that relationship? Take a moment to really let yourself think of someone who you compare yourself with and imagine yourself in a relationship with the person you’re envious of.
My guess would be no – you wouldn’t be as happy as you would want to be. That couple that seems to have it all together might not match your values or lifestyle. They might not be as funny or as adventurous as you would prefer. They might work too much or too little or they raise their children with a different parenting style.
Their version of a happy relationship is different from yours. They found what they needed in a partner but that doesn’t mean that partner is right for you.
The real questions you need to be asking instead of comparing are:
Am I with someone who makes me happy?
Is this person respecting me?
Are they truthful with me?
Are they kind to me?
Comparison is a trap. Pay attention to your own needs and feelings and don’t worry about other people’s relationships. If you’re not getting what you need from your partner, it might be time to evaluate your future.
But don’t leave because you think someone else has it better and you want what they have. If you’re thinking about ending your relationship, make sure it’s because you took the time to answer the questions I just asked you.
Comparing Your Relationship With an Unhealthy Couple
Another trap we fall into when we love someone suffering from addiction is listening to other women’s stories and telling ourselves we don’t have it that bad.
The truth is, someone always has it better and worse than you. There will be women whose loved ones have done far more hurtful things than the one you love.
Maybe the one you love didn’t go to jail or never screams at you. Maybe they “just” drink alcohol and don’t do drugs. Maybe they are still making good money and didn’t lose their jobs.
All of that can be true. And you can listen to other women’s stories and feel incredibly grateful you’re not experiencing their issues.
On the other hand, you can also use it as an excuse to stay stuck and justify settling for neglect, disrespect, or abuse.
The questions you need to be asking instead of comparing are:
Am I in a healthy relationship?
If my loved one never changes, can I live with him or her the rest of my life?
Do I feel loved and cherished most days?
The goal of these questions is to take personal inventory of your feelings and values and stop judging your relationship based on someone else’s. What is okay for you might not be for them. And what works for them might not work for you.
The bottom line is that most of us are in love with good people who are covered up by this disease. It’s okay if you are struggling right now. We will make it through this season, we just need to check in with ourselves and stop comparing.
If you found these tips helpful, there are plenty more practical ways we can help ourselves and the ones we love. We don’t need to stay stuck and unhappy. There are better answers. Click here to take a look at one of our programs.