Marriage: When Envy Destroys Trust
For many years I was a stay-at-home/homeschooling mom. During this time, there were days my husband traveled for work that felt endlessly tiresome. When my husband would call or send pictures of what he was experiencing without me, all I could hear was the “without me” part. Chauffeuring kids to activities, teaching all day, cooking meals, and having blinders to anything but the present moment of my daily routines, spiraled me into a dark cloud of discontent.
I thought I was missing out.
But after talking to my husband, he also felt like he was missing out at times. He occasionally wished he could stay home and not be responsible for our financial well-being. He had days he wanted nothing more than to wear sweats to work, take the kids to the park, and enjoy our company.
He loved being with us and often missed seeing the kids score a basket or learn something new due to his traveling.
Seasons of Discontent
Isn’t that the case so many times in life? We are content until we aren’t. The grass always looks greener somewhere else. We think someone else’s view of the world has a greater vantage point. We long for adventure and freedom.
Routine doesn’t always feel exciting. Especially when that includes loud, messy kids. 🙂
Now, you have to understand that I wanted to live the life I was living. My husband thought my choice was good but knew that it had to be my choice, as I would be the one to bear most of this weight of teaching and caring for our kids on a daily basis. He was always supportive, but he never forced me to quit work and stay home. If anything, it put a bigger burden on him to support us. The alternatives had their own trade-offs.
The feelings of jealousy I struggled with were not in line with my choices. It wasn’t my husband’s fault that he was required to travel for work – often to warm, tropical places. :0
All of our choices in life lead to missing out on something else. It is normal to wish we could do it all, but we can’t.
But God knows it is not healthy for us to pine away for things others have. Many times those things would not make us any more content, and He knows that. Loving well means being content in whatever season we are in, where God has us.
He desires for us to support and love our spouse and be ‘for them’ as He is ‘for us’.
Entertaining discontent allows envy to cause bitterness and fractions in our marriages. And this is not love.
1 Corinthians 13:4, defines love as being free from envy. According to Strong’s and Vine’s Dictionary of the NT, envy is defined as:
To burn with zeal: to be heated or to boil with envy, hatred, and anger.
To be moved with jealousy; to covet or desire what is not yours.
Nothing good comes from jealous or envious thoughts towards others, especially those we love and are commanded to care for above ourselves.
Can you imagine what my husband felt when he would call, and I would act disinterested in the new places he was seeing and the new information he was learning? Maybe I would make comments about how nice it must be to have alone time or to be free from responsibilities for a few days. I imagine it was hard for him to be excited about his adventures. And I would often forget to be content in the fact that he had called. He wanted to include me even if I couldn’t physically be present with him. He was trying to invite me into his experience, and I selfishly shut the door.
Simply, I was at times, jealous, and it caused hurt in our marriage. I was self-centered and stole the joy I should have shared in with him. That would have been more productive for our relationship. My joy would have increased his joy if I had been for him.
God knows what He is doing when He warns us of the sin of envy. A little envy leads to a whole lot of bitterness. This bitterness builds a wall between the trust a couple should have. Rejoicing and weeping together should be the standard – not harboring ill will for our spouse when they are blessed differently than us. If we need further proof, check out the story of Joseph and the chaos and pain caused by his brothers’ jealousy (Genesis 37).
The truth was that I enjoyed my kids and didn’t really want to fly somewhere and back in a couple of days. That sounded exhausting. I didn’t want to sit in a hotel all day while he attended meetings or venture into a new city by myself. I didn’t even want the things I was jealous about. Isn’t that ridiculous?
When God began to admonish me for these feelings and I confessed and prayed over them, I learned to find joy in living vicariously through my husband’s stories and photos. I could be content where I was and be excited for his opportunities.
And he always said that he wished we could all join him. That would have made it even better. What a gift those words were/are to me.
Loving as God loves is hard at times. It requires seeking the good of your spouse more than your own. And building trust that we are a safe place to share in all the joys and sorrows of life together.
If you want more practical advice for applying the truths of 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 to your life and marriage, scroll to the bottom of this page and enter your email to receive a free marriage inventory and study guide. A link will be sent straight to your inbox with the three page guide.
So, how do we put away envy in our marriage?
- Think on these things as Philippians 4:8 teaches. Capture the negative thoughts before you speak the words. Remember truth.
- Stop comparing. Be content in the role you are in or talk through where you are struggling and work toward a solution that is best for all. Don’t compare yourself to other marriages. We can look for positive role models in marriage but at the end of the day they have their own problems and unique relationships. No one is perfect and no one has identical needs. Look to each other and not outward to fix any issues.
- Be ‘for them‘. Cheer them on. Act your way to thinking. Don’t hold them back due to jealous feelings.
- Make every effort to work on growing in maturity in marriage. Make a list of the things you feel you lack that are causing discontent. Pray about it and see ‘what is’ and ‘what could be’. Life requires regular reflection and redirection. Look at the negative feelings to point you to the true problem. Then confess it and change course. Find verses on contentment and memorize and dwell on them.
Remembering the grace of God and what we truly deserve keeps the sin of envy from having power over us.
Have you ever experienced envy towards your spouse? How do you guard yourself from letting jealousy erode the trust in your relationship?
Such a good post. I love how you relate envy to not being love from I Cor 13.
Thank you for reading! The last marriage post will be out tomorrow.🙂