Do you have a friend who seems to be married to the perfect man? Her doting husband takes her to fine restaurants, brings home flowers for no reason, and watches the kids regularly so she can enjoy a night out. The more you consider the virtues of your friend’s husband, the more you see the glaring vices in your own.

Negative thoughts swirl in your head: My husband would never do that for me. We could never afford a dream vacation. Romance, what’s that? My husband is rude and insensitive.

Before you take one step further down this discouraging path, consider the saying “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.” When you constantly compare your marriage to the seemingly perfect marriage next door, you’re going to make yourself miserable. You’ll never measure up to that mythical, blissful union. Instead of improving your own prospect for happiness, you’ll sabotage your marriage. Seeds of envy and self-pity can wreak havoc upon a good home.

Rather than peering over the fence at the honeymooners next door, try tending your relationship with these simple actions.

Choose a Better Yardstick for Your Marriage

The real problem with comparing our marriages to those of others is that when we do so, we’re measuring against the wrong standard. Accurate standards are truly important, in marriage as in every aspect of life. Imagine what a chocolate chip cookie would taste like if you put one cup of salt instead of one tablespoon into the batter. Accurate measurements matter!

In marriage, we can pick up the wrong measuring stick and end up with destructive results. One wrong means of measurement is comparing ourselves to the Joneses. I love what Erma Bombeck said: “Before you try to keep up with the Joneses, be sure they’re not trying to keep up with you.”

We are not to measure our marriages by magazine covers, social media, pop psychology, or changing feelings. Instead we should measure our marriage according to God’s Word. What does the Bible instruct about your beautiful role as a wife? Genesis 2:24 says, “This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.” Unity is God’s plan for your marriage. That’s a true measurement you can use. How unified are you and your mate? How can you promote more unity in the home?

Another passage, Hebrews 13:4, says, “Give honor to marriage, and remain faithful to one another in marriage. God will surely judge people who are immoral and those who commit adultery.” Here we learn the value of honoring marriage and being sexually faithful to one another. Is your marriage precious to you? How are you and your spouse doing in the bedroom?

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There is also the measuring stick of love, so beautifully described in 1 Corinthians 13. Are you being patient and kind? Do you envy, boast, keep a record of wrongs, or become easily angered? We’re human—we all do these things from time to time. When we don’t measure up to a standard like 1 Corinthians 13, we may experience a healthy degree of dissatisfaction—one that spurs us on to reach toward Christ-like transformation in our marriages.

Assess Your Marriage Together

Biblical measurements bring you together as a couple; they don’t divide or tear down. However, we need to understand these ideas in a realistic way. For example, just because you’re striving for unity doesn’t mean you can’t bring up your concerns to your spouse. On the contrary, regular marital assessments are useful for revealing where you are and where you are going as a couple. Keep it straightforward and ask your spouse questions like these:

What’s one thing I could do this month to improve our marriage?

How would you complete this sentence? I really feel respected and loved when you . . .

Take turns answering these questions. The key is to do this together. Measuring your marriage against the yardstick of Scripture must be done in tandem with your spouse. Done alone, it may only bring more feelings of frustration.

Doesn’t it make sense to measure the success of your marriage by what your partner thinks rather than by an arbitrary standard borrowed from a neighbor? Your spouse’s approval rating is really what matters, not that of your parents or friends on social media.

You might wonder, Why I should worry about my spouse’s satisfaction? I’m the one doing all the work around here! What about my approval rating? If that’s how you approach your relationship, your marriage will likely continue falling short because your husband may never be able to do meet your high standard. May I gently suggest that if you make it your aim to grow in unity with your husband and to honor him, you’ll be a much happier wife.

Accept Grace, and Offer It Freely

In her song “Broken into Beautiful,” my friend Gwen Smith writes, “We live with accusations, sometimes heavy expectations, that tell us we can never measure up. And yet You repeat with mercy that in Your eyes we are worthy, ’til at last we see how much we’re loved.”

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Perhaps the root of our constant comparison of our marriages with others’ is that we have been too hard on ourselves. Maybe you’ve felt you are worth less than others or not good enough. If so, remember that there is an endless ocean of God’s grace available to you (and to your spouse also). When you experience the grace of God, it’s easier to extend grace to your husband when he doesn’t measure up in your eyes.

It’s also helpful to put the shoe on the other foot. I often think when I’m irritated with my husband that he is probably irritated with me too. I expect grace for my mess ups, yet I mete out judgment for his! You’re not perfect, and neither is your partner. You’re both going to fall short of one another’s ideals and expectations. When that happens, allow grace to flow freely. That grace will lead to growth.

Concentrate on Tending, not Comparing

The grass is not always greener on the other side of the fence. Robert Fulghum writes, “Fences have nothing to do with it. The grass is greenest where it is watered. When crossing over fences, carry water with you and tend the grass where you may be.”

How can you tend the grass right where you are? Instead of comparing your partner to the “perfect” spouses of others, focus on building your relationship with your own mate. Are you growing closer together and to God with each passing year? Do you treat your spouse with the same common courtesy you did when you were first married? Do you have adventures to look forward to on the calendar just for the two of you? Do you pray together regularly?

Tending your marriage with habits like these will pull a surviving marriage to safety and turn a good marriage into a great one. Your marriage won’t grow by itself. And it won’t grow if you stubbornly wait for your husband to make the first move. Proverbs 14:1 says, “A wise woman builds her home, but a foolish woman tears it down with her own hands.” Make a commitment to be wise in your character and to build with your behavior.

Today is a great day to grow your marriage. Pick up your water pot and tend to the grass on your side of the fence. Water your home lavishly with grace, affection, truth, and admiration.

Measure your words carefully; the ones you speak to your spouse and the ones you speak to yourself. Think positively and gratefully about your marriage. Your husband isn’t drab; he’s a dreamboat. You’re not mundane; you are magnificent. You’re not stuck; you’re about to grow your marriage like never before!