Once upon a time, I used to spend a lot of energy comparing my relationship with Jared to that of other couples we knew. At the time, Jared worked a lot of nights so I wished he worked normal hours so we could be more social together, rather than me having to do things on my own. I wished he didn’t work weekends. Constantly comparing our life made me angry and resentful and those feelings would bleed into the time we had together, contaminating it.
I had what I’d call relationship envy, like food envy – where you covet what the person beside you orders in a restaurant – but with relationships (not sure you needed that little explanation but, oh well, it’s done now). It wasn’t all about Jared’s hours or how little we saw each other, there were many little things I’d notice and wish I had in my relationship. But, regardless of what it was, it all served the same purpose: I was too busy making myself upset about what we didn’t have to be grateful for the things we did.
Skip forward eight or nine years and things are very different. There’s very little I’d change about our relationship. Of course, there’s no such thing as perfection but I believe we’re consistently hitting high levels of awesome on the relationship scale. I look around at the many, many couples I know and I wouldn’t switch what I have for the world (ok maybe for a night with Tom Hardy and Angelina Jolie. And who could blame me?). We rarely fight. We enjoy each other’s company and like to do things together – both alone and with friends – and I can honestly say that my partner is my best friend, the person I confide in and trust the most and am still deeply in love and in lust/desire with (however you want to put it). To be closing in on 10 years of togetherness and not feeling the slightest bit tired of ‘us’ is something I’m pretty damn proud of (especially considering my track record with commitment).
I know so many people who suffer from relationship envy and, speaking from experience, it’s a terrible, insidious thing. Any kind of comparison eventually sucks the joy out of the life. With the advent of social media sites like Facebook and Instagram, it’s easier than ever to compare yourself and feel lacking. People often use these sites to showcase their highlights; we rarely see the B-sides and the downtime. It’s 99% people at their most glitzy and glam and fair enough. We all know that one person who airs their dirty laundry on FB and you eventually unfollow them (or maybe that’s just me?).
The important thing to remember in this world of super connectedness is that you don’t know what goes on behind closed doors. The ‘happiest couple’ on social media isn’t necessarily the happiest couple in real life. Focus on what you have and work on making it better. Appreciate what you have. What works for someone else isn’t going to work for you. Also, those people might be older, into different stuff, at a different place financially, there are so many reasons why couples are different.
Besides, even if you managed to be magically gifted with what you think is that’s wrong with your relationship (not enough champagne? Not enough doughnuts? Not enough puppies? Personally, I think there can never be enough of these things), there’s no guarantee everything will be wonderful, happy, happy fun times after that (result: alcoholism, diabetes and a house full of puppy poo and puppy teeth bites – nope, still worth it!).