Help! I Can’t Stop Comparing Myself to Another Woman!

Here’s a question about an experience many of us have had, but few of us will admit to. This was a real reader question, used by permission here. This is what I said to encourage a reader who struggles with comparing herself to another woman.

Dear Heather:

A new woman moved in across from my husband and I. I’ll admit, after our last neighbor had moved out, I prayed that anyone but a young beautiful girl would move in. But wouldn’t you know it, this exact girl has moved in across from us. She’s stunning and in fantastic shape. She’s tan and she has a successful career. I have been struggling to find a job for over a year. I’m beyond discouraged. And I can’t understand why God wouldn’t answer my prayer. I just want to protect my marriage and not have my husband compare me to the young hottie who’s got it all together. Do you have any advice how to handle this situation because we can’t move at the moment and it’s been stressful between the two of us?

Signed,

Frustrated in Fresno


Dear Frustrated:
I’m so sorry for your struggle. I totally get it. I used to do the same thing.
But, I also wonder if maybe God allowed this woman to move in to help you overcome your comparison struggles. The older I get the more I’ve come to realize that I’m never going to be the winner of the beauty contest anymore . . . there will always be someone thinner, hotter, prettier, more successful. The days of believing I could compete are drawing to an end as I get closer to mid-life and recognize that a twenty-year old’s body is no longer anywhere close to being possible! (Haha!)
To that end, I don’t think moving solves anything (even if you could move). Because, sweet friend, there will always be another beautiful woman. Either in the flesh or on TV or on a billboard . . .there’s always going to be another one. So handling the struggle inside you is the absolute only thing you can control.

Thing 1: Do you know he’s comparing you?

So, I guess my first question for you is: Do you know that your husband is comparing you to her? Has he verbalized that? Or, do you just assume that he is because you are comparing yourself to her. Those are two different things. I think we make a lot of assumptions of things our husbands are thinking or feeling . . .but not always are they the truth. Especially when it comes to marriage, the enemy has a way of lying in our ears, all the time, to disrupt our intimacy with our husband and cause strain . . .and half the time. . . the struggle is all in our heads. He messes with our minds and makes us think things that aren’t reality. I lived this for the first several years of my marriage and a licensed counselor really helped me weed through the lies so I could actually believe my husband loved and wanted me.

From there . . . I think you choose your route:

Route 1: Graciously Ask Him to Stop Comparing.

If your husband is telling you he’s comparing you to her, you graciously ask him to stop. To appreciate your uniqueness and that he’s being unfair. If you were to compare him to Matthew McCoughney and Bill Gates, he probably wouldn’t win the looks or the money contest . . . so I’d just respectfully ask him to stop and seek counseling, together, for this deeper issue in both of your hearts.

Route 2: Accept the Fact that the Comparison May Be Your Internal Struggle

If your husband does not compare you to this other woman out loud, if he says he doesn’t compare you but you feel like he does,  you’ve got to take those thoughts captive my friend. You are driving yourself nuts with jealousy and envy. You’ve made an idol out of looking gorgeous and having a successful jobs. God looks at the heart. He doesn’t believe a woman’s value is in her appearance or her work.
If we disagree with God on that front–if we tell him, “No, we really need to be hot and successful to be saved. . . Yes, that and Jesus . . .” then it’s idolatry.
I explain it more in my book, but quite simply, it’s a sin problem. I know that may sound harsh. But, I can confess to you that I was caught up in this sin for decades? I let the sin of comparison and idolatry rob me and my marriage for years and years. I tried to distract my husband from every bikini billboard . . . turn the channel when the cheerleaders came on, etc . . . but I couldn’t manage making sure that he never saw another beautiful woman. It just wasn’t possible.
I drove myself crazy trying to stop him from ever seeing beauty. It affected every aspect of our marriage. (And yes, he got very annoyed with me). Why? Because he couldn’t possibly fight all the false allegations I had against him in my head. In my head, he had decided she was better than me and was really wanting her, not me. But, it wasn’t true.
Can I encourage you: he chose you. He married you. If he wanted another woman, he could have chosen her. But, unless you can rest in his love, you keep him on trial where he’s guilty until proven innocent.
This is a horrible position for a man to be in, feeling like he can never prove his love enough. I’d encourage you to let him off the hook. Forgive him if you’ve caught him look twice at the beautiful woman — and remember that, just maybe, you’ve also looked twice at a very good looking man. And, yet, you chose him. You love him. You want to be married to him.
Trust that he loves you, too, and likely has run out of options for getting you to understand this because jealousy blinds us. The truth is that we can appreciate another man’s handsomeness without wanting to be “with him” and we have to allow the same for our husbands. They will notice beautiful women.
But that doesn’t mean that they love them or want them.
If we see every pretty woman as a potential threat to our marriage, we’ll never be free to have healthy relationships. And, too often, I see women creating self-fulflling prophecies in this arena, where they get so obsessed that their husband wants another woman that they eventually talk him into it. He feels like “well, she’s mad at me for wanting her already . . . I guess I might as well.”
The Bible calls jealousy and envy demonic (James 3:14-16). This is the work of the enemy to steal, kill and destroy in your life and your marriage.
Friend, I hope I’m speaking the truth with enough love here —but please seek some wise counsel from someone who loves and knows you both. Your marriage doesn’t have to be affected by a beautiful woman who lives across the street. The enemy is wreaking havoc in your heart over this -and it’s keeping you from experiencing intimacy in the way God intends.

Confession

The most helpful think you can do is to release this all through confession. Go to the Father and tell him you are sorry for the ways you’ve been jealous and envied this woman. Ask him to forgive you for vain imaginations and for idolizing all that she has—beauty and a great job—as things that you need in order to keep your husband’s love. And receive HIS great love for you, so you can rest. Tell your husband you’ve done it and ask him to help you by encouraging you to not determine your standing in life by where you are “as compared to” someone else. There will always be someone better, and always someone worse. That’s why comparison is a joy killer and a trap. But, friend, freedom starts not just with acknowledging this -but if you are a Christian -with confessing this as sin and letting God cleanse you of it so he can start ministering his love to your heart again.
I hope this helps. Praying for you to experience a fresh dose of God’s true love for you and a new found freedom and confidence in your marriage.
In His Grace & Love,
Heather

 

7 Comments
  • Tracy
    June 19, 2018

    I totally relate to this woman. I have just entered menopause and am really struggling. I am very overweight but have lost 49#. I am really struggling. I need help! Part of my issue is women’s legs and high heels. I was born with a 4E width foot. I could get away with moderately attractive flats before having babies. Now my feet have grown wider and I can literally only wear New Balance White Tennis shoes and a black pair of tie shoes that look unisex. I also have a flat with a strap but it accentuates the ankle swelling and is not very feminine. I also have large calves and the dreaded cankles. In order to stay cool in the summer, I wear capris and my lower legs get stared at often. When I was in high school I dieted to 142 pounds and still got called Miss Piggy legs. My feet have always been pudgy and spill out of shoes. NOT attractive at all. Sandals don’t fit and I have never been able to wear cute strappy shoes. Dresses and skirts are something I would love to wear but how can you with footwear options like this? I cannot handle the stares from people. I feel deformed. I also feel so unfemine; almost like a man. I try to keep my hair long and what I wear on the upper body as feminine as possible.
    One of the hardest things is going to church. That sounds terrible but the church we found the women dress up more than I am used to. And many wear spike heels. I walk in and want to cover my husband’s eyes. I dread going and feel like a freak. A few are very beautiful and pure opposite of me. I think I see him looking. I feel like I have cheated him out of what a man is supposed to have and I am good for nothing. I cried the other day in church surrounded by all these beautiful legs (which to me is any leg that doesn’t have huge cankles and calves and can wear heels) and wondered why God made men to like the female form and my lower half is not pleasing to the male eye. I am so insecure by the pastor’s daughter who is up front all the time. I think I see him stare at her. I not only have to fight the media’s portrayal but many women in real life that I cannot measure up to/ Summer is the worst with all the shorts etc..
    It is hard to feel beautiful to him when I feel like a defective woman. I want to get that wow look from him so many women experience when they get all dressed up. Have you ever experienced that? I bought your book and am working through it. I need help.

    • Heather Creekmore
      June 19, 2018

      Praying for you, T. I know it all feels very hard and overwhelming right now…like you could never see the world or yourself in any other way. But, I promise that freedom is possible. I hope you’ll continue to work through the book. I also do some personal training where I work with women in small groups on this issues, so feel free to email me if you’re interested in that. heather (at) compared to who (dot) me is the address. But most of all, I pray that you’ll know that your value is not found in your legs or in having legs that match our culture’s “standard”. God has a great purpose for you – and, maybe like me, that purpose will never be to model shoes . . .but he can still do great things in your life and give you that freedom you long for. Have you ever read my “Worshipping Calves” piece -that one may resonate. Hugs and prayers for your journey to FREEDOM. https://comparedtowho.me/worshipping-calves/

      • Tracy
        June 19, 2018

        Thank you! I am just starting to see how much this holds me back and defines me. It makes me very sad and I have to let go of the thought that if I had feet that could wear pretty shoes life would be better. I have to say though it is so hard to feel like a fit as a woman. I just don’t know how to overcome this. Thanks for the prayers and I will be emailing you!

  • Anne Girl
    May 18, 2018

    One of the best body image cures I have ever discovered – and this will sound irritating as heck, so bear with me! – is exercise. Hear me out.

    When I was in my mid-twenties, I wasn’t in a great place self-esteem wise. I had given birth to three babies, the last of whom was stillborn. I had gone into my marriage as a very svelte and somewhat underweight 19-year-old with a tiny waist and pristine skin; now, seven years later, I was carrying around 30+ pounds of baby weight, my skin was covered in stretch marks, my belly was no longer flat or taut, and my “banana” shape had been replaced by a pear shaped body that I no longer knew how to dress flatteringly. I didn’t like my reflection and while I was happy to have a more curvy frame, I just felt frumpy and baggy and rumpled all the time. I had spent the year after our stillbirth hitting the gym and working on getting into some sort of shape (I think I was punishing my body more than anything else, really) but I still wasn’t happy with the results. Then my little four-year-old started talking about wanting to go to dance class because she loved to dance…and my mom sent me a video of an incredibly talented belly dancer performing a drum solo…and suddenly I started thinking about learning to dance too. I wanted what that woman had – that skill, that passion. So I found a local belly dance class and joined up.

    Spending time every week staring at my body in the mirror as I learned the basics had a huge effect on me. At first I couldn’t stand the sight of my stomach, or how tiny my arms looked in comparison to the rest of me. But as time went on that mattered less because I realized that I could dance really well just as I was. Before the end of the first year of classes I decided to get my navel pierced as a way to beautify my belly and honour it for all its hard work bringing my kids into the world – it sounds cheesy but that’s how I felt. As time passed I started feeling more confident, and it wasn’t because my body changed a whole lot – it was because now I was basing my self-image on what my body could DO instead of how it looked. It was transformative. It made me want to learn how to do more things. I kept dancing. I started running again, and running made me think more carefully about what I was eating so I started to trim up a bit. Running led to an asthma diagnosis, and that diagnosis improved my running immensely because now I could treat the shortness of breath I always assumed was just me being out of shape. In time I added bodyweight fitness to my routine, and then got into weightlifting and yoga. I’m still belly dancing and can see improvements slowly but surely over the years and that makes me feel awesome. I got into all of these because it makes me feel great to train my body and learn new skills – and as a result I also look better than I have in years, now that I have lost the baby weight and built up some solid musculature that I was lacking before. My body image is healthier than before because it’s still based mostly on what my body can do – even on a day when I’m bloated and look tired I can still run, I can still balance, I can still dance.

    So yeah. If your body image is suffering, there are other ways to address it than just learning to change your thought habits. Getting out there and teaching your body a new skill that it couldn’t do before is immensely helpful. Perhaps it will change the way your body looks; perhaps not. But it’s a better basis for self-image than only ever worrying about your appearance.

    • Heather Creekmore
      May 18, 2018

      That’s great that exercise has been such a game changer for you! 🙂 I will tell you that I counsel hundreds of women who are in the peak shape of their lives . . .fitness instructors and others who exercise a lot and are still in the throes of body image struggle. Some more miserable than they were before they had “hot bodies” because the hot body didn’t solve it. So, for some, I know it’s not enough. But, I’m happy to hear that you’re finding freedom through it! Thank you so much for commenting! Hugs!

  • B
    March 15, 2018

    This was a good post for me to read. I do believe my husband compares me to every beautiful woman and I always lose to her. My value to him diminishes simply by a more beautiful woman coming into view. I do believe he wants her, loves her, desires her, and forgets about me. It’s a daily struggle.

    I didn’t even think about the job part! But yes, as a homeschooling mother, I know my value is much less than a working mother. I don’t contribute anything to the family and that makes me sad.

    You said something about the enemy having a way of lying in our ears in order to disrupt intimacy with our husbands. That is so true! My husband was openly admiring the butt on a better woman when we were out last weekend. It made me feel ugly and worthless, since I know he likes nice butts and mine is so small and boring. She was definitely better in his eyes. Ever since that night I’ve been keeping my distance from him. He’s been trying to hug me and kiss me each day since, but I just feel so worthless to him that his affection holds no appeal to me right now. I know he’s thinking of nice butt girl every time he tries to hug me. He’s not interested in me at all because I’m not enough for him. I’m not nagging him about it, I just don’t really feel like being close to him.

    This ogling was a habit he broke (at least in front of me) because it was really hurting our relationship. But I guess this woman was too much to resist, and so he made the conscious choice that openly enjoying her butt for a while was much more important to him that my heart. Or he wouldn’t have done it in front of me.

    Anyhow, my insecurity and inability to get over this and believe he likes me let alone loves me, is destroying our intimacy. But he’s probably happy that I’m keeping my distance.

    Anyway, I never thought this might be my sin, my problem. I know insecurity is not good. That being said, it is almost impossible not to compare, and wish I was at least half as pretty as the beautiful women that catch his eye.

    I’ll have to reread this post a lot.

    • Heather Creekmore
      March 16, 2018

      I’m so sorry to hear how you are struggling. I do get it. Perfectly. But, let me encourage you to re-read the post and try really hard to not decide what’s going on in his head. 12 years of marriage have taught me that I’m wrong most of the time when I try to assume what my husband is thinking -and I’d say I’m pretty intune with reading people right, generally. He loves you. He chose you. Yes, it’d be better if he didn’t appreciate the beauty of other women, but don’t let the enemy deceive you into believing that your only value to your husband is in the physical department (or isn’t…as we most often feel). We are whole people, body, soul, spirit, mind . . .it’s a total package. I also wonder if as you grow in confidence in Christ you will become more confident with him and, that becomes very atractive to most men. Praying for your journey. Don’t let the enemy harm your marriage and intimacy with these lies though . . . I pray you’ll find the way to mute them.

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