One Big Trap: Idolizing Someone’s Marriage

My dear readers – –

I remember the days in my first marriage when we would go out with other couples.  I would look at how the other husbands would talk to their wives, sometimes with a sparkle in their eye.  Or they’d reach out for their wife’s hand, give them a smile or a wink here and there, give them compliments in public.  I watched this stuff like a hawk, because it seemed as if they really loved each other.  I always wondered what that would be like.  I loved my husband in that way, but at the time I knew that he either didn’t love me or he just had a really difficult time when it came to feeling & showing love.  I tried to believe the latter (& I think he did, too) and I just learned to accept that he was that way.  But I still fantasized  about being loved.   

There were moments when it felt like there was some hope for something real & lasting.  But overall, those moments never really stuck.  If there was ever a good day, there was always a really bad day to trump it with a very loud and clear message from him that he was not comfortable in our marriage.  I lived a very sad & lonely existence.  Those were the earlier years in our marriage before I learned how to choose my own happiness.  And without that skill under my belt, those were hard, dark days.

One reason they were so hard is I idolized that which I did not have & was clearly longing for something outside of myself to make me happy.  Luckily I couldn’t be further from living in that dark way now.  And thank goodness, cause there’s a lot of you with families that I could covet like crazy.  🙂 Though can you imagine living that way all these years?  That would be such a sad way to live.  

But it has come to my attention that some of our dear readers read our blog and long for what we have whether it is time, freedom, date nights, happiness, marriage, etc. 

If this is you – – may I tell you that happiness comes in all forms.  But one thing I do know:  the-best-ever-lasting-happiness does not come because of a marriage (nor does it come from children).  Those that took our “Choosing Happiness” class got more nitty gritty on this & know why I would say that 🙂

So, may I plead with anyone out there who may need to hear this – do not idolize that which you don’t have.  Coveting and envy is the energy of ignoring whatever it is that you have.  It’s the energy of desiring to have your circumstances (or other people) control your wellness.  If you find yourself idolizing someone else’s life or marriage, let that be a gentle reminder to you to reassess.

And, if you covet anything, covet character.  Rejoice in someone else’s good marriage and wisdom and say:  I will learn from them; I will follow their path; I will use my own marriage to develop those skills & virtues for myself.  You can develop character no matter what state your spouse is in, no matter what your spouse does.  If you choose to pursue virtues, you’ll come out on top.  

To sum it up, as Danny says…

“Stand where you are & LIVE.”

So perfect.  That man always knows what to say.  🙂

Love to all,

Next ‘Class About Love’:  Hear more about our trials & learn exactly what we’ve done to overcome them.  The stuff we’ll teach in this class is stuff that changed us forever.  Thurs., May 3 @ 8 pm

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  1. hilary May 1, 2012 at 6:36 am - Reply

    Oh my goodness! Thank you soo much for this post… Every single word you wrote is my exact experience during my marriage… Going out with my husband and watching every single couple and thinking "wow, they are so in love… they seem so happy… he is so good to her… you can tell that they are so happy with each other and love and respect each other deeply.." I ached to feel this way about my marriage and relationship with my husband. Now that I have made the decision to move past that relationship, I do find myself watching my siblings in their marriage and feeling these tinges of envy(although I tell myself that it is in the most loving of thoughts because I hope that one day when I marry again that I can have the type of healthy relationships that they have with their spouses) This time has been such a blessing that I have been able to find more of myself and I am teaching myself that my happiness does not rely on my marriage or any other being, but that I can choose my happiness and my outlook on my life. Again, thank you for this post. It was a fantastic reminder to love your life and to be grateful for all of the beauty that life has to offer. And I love what Danny had to say… "Stand where you are and LIVE." I can not wait to attend Thursdays class!

    • mara May 1, 2012 at 3:40 pm - Reply

      Hilary – thanks so much – so glad that this resonated with you.

  2. hilary May 1, 2012 at 6:40 am - Reply

    By the way, I have been reading your blog for quite sometime… I came across it on my own while beginning the process of my divorce. Very small world. I live in Mesa, AZ and I met your cousin Angie Papa who is my new hair stylist! She began to tell me about your blog and I about died when she told me that it was ABAL:) Very sweet girl and it was so nice to have met her! My sister lives in Brooklyn and I hope to visit one day and meet you! Thanks again.

    • mara May 1, 2012 at 3:42 pm - Reply

      Oh wow – I *LOVE* Angie! She is one of my favorite people.

  3. Rik May 1, 2012 at 11:44 am - Reply

    I love that. It's so easy to fall into this trap, because there are just so many good, beautiful, spiritual, loving people out there!! 🙂 But really, we all have so much to be grateful for. I love Danny's quote!

  4. Ashley May 1, 2012 at 12:16 pm - Reply

    This is such great advice, and a beautiful reminder even for those of us who have a pretty wonderful marriage (most days :)).

  5. thack May 1, 2012 at 12:50 pm - Reply

    I think comparison (envy)is always a slippery slope whether it is in relationships or just with ourselves. When we compare we tend to compare our weaknesses with others' strengths–mostly because no one walks around blatantly flaunting their weaknesses, so we don't see the weaknesses others have. With this mindset, we are bound to be miserable because our weaknesses will never measure up to the strengths of another. Being grateful for what we do have and shifting our focus to one of virtues within ourselves empowers us to accept who we are and improve ourselves.

    • mara May 1, 2012 at 3:44 pm - Reply

      Thack – I love this. Thanks for sharing.

    • My Name is Jacy May 1, 2012 at 5:02 pm - Reply

      I totally agree with this too, Thack. It's dangerous in ANY relationship including that with ourselves…

      Great post Mara!

  6. Anonymous May 1, 2012 at 2:05 pm - Reply

    Comparing yourself to others can be dangerous in that we never look at someone and say "I am equal to them." We tend to put ourselves below them or above them and that tendancy harms us.

  7. Anonymous May 1, 2012 at 3:37 pm - Reply

    Is there any way to view the classes after on-line? Are they being recorded? I would love to attend, but the time does not work for me.

    • mara May 1, 2012 at 3:45 pm - Reply

      Anon- at this time we aren't able to offer the recorded class. But it may be an option in the future and we will keep you posted….

    • Anonymous May 1, 2012 at 9:53 pm - Reply

      That would be great…. Pleeeeease consider recording them so I could purchase/listen. I wish there was a way I could "attend". 🙁

  8. Maria May 1, 2012 at 3:56 pm - Reply

    such an important point! thanks for sharing:).

  9. The New Diplomat's Wife May 1, 2012 at 4:15 pm - Reply

    you're totally correct on this. it's amazing how quickly we can assume that someone else has the "perfect marriage" – no one has the perfect marriage, but some are certainly willing to work very hard at it. And some are simply better at their exterior portrayal. I agree with Mara in terms of learning from character, and learn from the way that others might treat a spouse, but you never know what kind of cracks and struggles are on the inside and chances are, whoever you're holding up is probably admiring something of yours.

  10. Isaac Sarayiah May 1, 2012 at 5:14 pm - Reply

    Hi Mara
    I love your blog and it is the first blog I have seen that comes close I think to doing what I am trying to do with my blog – My blog is my views on Life, Love and Relationships to try and help others and my strapline is "be FREE be ALIVE be Truly HAPPY." I went through a very difficult time in my life and it led me to creating it.

    As I say on my blog, I believe very few people ever meet their True Soul mate and most people enter relationships for the wrong reasons and "manufacture" their love, where ultimately the relationship will fail as the truth will always surface. I try and guide people to look at the bigger picture and fundamentals of a situation as opposed to being reactionary and always to be true to who they are as a Human Being.

    I think we are trying to do the similar things and even the format is similar (despite using different blogging packages) and we even started our respective blogs it seems around about the same time with yours in Sept 2011 and mine at the end of August 2011, but you blog a lot more often than I do.

    For April 2012 I have had just under 9500 visitors – a new monthly traffic record. (I am in London, UK by the way otherwise I would definitely have taken you up on your offer to come and meet you :-)).

    I would love to know you think of my blog so hope you will have a look and feel free to email me (via my blog) or leave a comment, add me on Twitter – or via facebook –

    Hope you are having a wonderful day.
    Isaac Sarayiah

  11. Anonymous May 1, 2012 at 8:08 pm - Reply

    I fell into this trap and got out of it only recently. I was struggling in my marriage after 2 years and I couldn't help but envy my husband's best friend and his marriage with his wife. They didn't have a child yet and always seemed to be having fun. They also just seemed so happy. I thought that the husband must treat his wife so much better and they must be having such an easy time. Not too long ago I found out that underneath what I saw, they did in fact have struggles in their marriage, lots of struggles. And in that moment reality smacked me in the face and made me realize that I really didn't know what happened in another person's marriage. It also helped me appreciate my own marriage a little more because I realized I wasn't the only one struggling.
    You honestly never know, so when you envy you just don't know the whole situation.

  12. Lydia Criss Mays May 1, 2012 at 9:01 pm - Reply

    OH, what an important, prolific reflection. I love the fact that my marriage is completely my husband and I's. No one else gets to tell us how we should love, laugh, travel, and sit and do nothing together. That's the best part. What we thought we understood as loved when we married is transformed beyond recognizability today. I love your comment about living and loving in this moment. Just beautiful. I can't wait for him to come home so I can share it!

    Happy seeing beautiful!

  13. Jan May 1, 2012 at 9:24 pm - Reply

    "Coveting and envy is the energy of ignoring whatever it is that you have."

    I loved that line. One of my goals is to stop wasting my emotional energy on things that don't bring me happiness. When I am bothered by what my life is lacking, I am being ungrateful for all the things that I DO have–and when I take the time to think about what I do have, I realize that I already have a lot!

  14. Laurie May 2, 2012 at 1:00 am - Reply

    I too was struck by the coveting comment. You speak of it with relationships, because that's what your blog is about, but it applies to everything…. HOMES, children, friends, clothes, body image, church callings, seemingly perfect people. But, that's the thing no one is perfect, no house is perfect, no kids are perfect. it all comes down to ATTITUDE! You can choose happiness, it's as simple as that. And those who can see all they have and be joyful in that, are truly happy people.

  15. Stephanie May 2, 2012 at 5:50 am - Reply

    Well said Mara. You really never know what happens behind closed doors anyway so there's no reason to waste energy on pining for someone else's marriage. I've learned that things are not as they seem in most cases so the best thing to do is just allocate energy towards personal improvement. It's so much more worthwhile…

  16. Lottie May 3, 2012 at 2:24 pm - Reply

    I agree with the others that say you nevr know what goes on behind closed doors–it is just funny that we are so quick to beleive the positive about someone elses's life {they must be so happy, like that all the time, never a cross word} and yet so quick to find the negative in our own lives–and what a waste of energy it is.

  17. I love u sms May 4, 2012 at 8:04 am - Reply

    And what if you have no legislature for anyone else to do anything in order for you to brains that love Indeed the very sanity or anticipation that someone else will commencement YOU to have love intermingling in your neurology makes no sense. The zone of love is already within you, and it can protocol any time you choose it to.

  18. thedatinghusband May 15, 2012 at 8:44 pm - Reply

    This is a great post and I agree we shouldn't covet what other people have.

  19. Anonymous June 12, 2012 at 2:49 pm - Reply

    Mara and Danny,
    I stumbled upon your blog about a week ago as I have been doing a lot of soul searching for a while now and I keep looking for help and answers to life's many difficult questions but mostly questions about relationships. I struggle to figure out what's the right thing to do in any circumstances when it comes to my relationship. I have been in a 5 year relationship and so far all I have tried is to look at other people's relationship and pine over having what everyone else has.

    Anyway, as I started my soul searching journey, I realized that comparing is the most toxic thing you can do to a relationship. All I did was crticize my boy friend for all the things he does wrong. I want to get married and he doesn't make any move towards that so I have had so much resentment that I constantly focused on that issue and fought with him.

    I am wondering now if that's the reason he didn't take the next step. Well, I finally decided that I will stop nagging him and stop ciritcizing him and only speak about his positive qualities and compliment him (something I rarely ever do). Don't get me wrong he is not a saint but he is a decent guy, I don't have to constantly remind him of his short comings either. Maybe if I could do that for a while then he will actually be more inclined to take the next step.

    basically, I wanted to let you guys know since I started reading your blog it's helped me a lot and I wanted to thank you for that.

    If anybody has any advice for me as to how to change my behavior or if they could tell me something they did to turn their relationship around I would love to know. I am looking for help because as you know it is very hard to change your behavior. Any help would be appreciated. Thank you all, I love your posts

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