Is Competition Killing Your Marriage?

I remember the day clearly. How couldn’t I? It was the day I had dreamt of as a child; my wedding day. It was even more memorable because there was a hurricane brewing in the Gulf, and, yes, it was raining! Luckily, every time I had to get out of the Rolls Royce it cleared up before the downpour ensued. Looking at our video today, you can see the fright in our faces when the lights went out in the church. Did that really happen? Oh yeah! 

And here we are, 19 years later, rising above all sorts of storms that come with a 19+ year relationship. No relationship that’s worth it comes without storms. Going into my marriage I remember setting a silent goal:

“I don’t want to divorce like my parents did. There is so much heartbreak that comes with divorce. In the least, I want to make sure that I surpass the number of years my parents were together; 12 years.” 

At my tender age of 24, that seemed to be the most important thing; to not inherit that so called “failure.” As a much wiser adult now, I understand that the divorce had to happen, and it indeed was the best for everyone involved. Much of what I experienced helped make me who I am today. 

Nineteen years later, the love and respect my husband and I have for each other is as strong as it was on day 1. Why? Perhaps other married couples would have different tips to offer, but for me, this one has turned out to be such a powerful one. So here’s the one tip I want to share with you today:  Don’t compete; complete! 

You can hear the priest say this to us right before he married us. It was engraved into both our minds in that very moment. It was that powerful to us both. He didn’t say “the couple who prays together, stays together,” or “Don’t go to bed at night angry with each other,” or any of the other nuggets of wisdom we all expect to hear. This one came out of left field and it caught our attention. He knew something we didn’t, that many relationships fail because the partners steer away from PARTNERSHIP and toward COMPETITION. In our case, we both happen to be Type A people with BIG dreams and visions for our lives. We are both very successful, and we support one another. That looks like making constant adjustments, and helping each other decide who has to have the priority today; who leaps onto the stage and who sits in the audience. I have to be honest…I think this is probably the biggest reason we have been such great partners for each other. These words the priest uttered have been ever present since the day we said “I Do.” If you are finding yourself competing with your spouse in any way (you’ll know when you hear yourself say, “It’s not fair,” “I’m important too,” “It’s my turn,” etc.), begin to create awareness around it, talk about it, and mostly, figure out how to create a win-win environment for you both. 

You can begin to think about how you and your spouse may be competing with each other by asking yourself certain questions, like:

  • When do I feel I take a back seat?
  • How do I support my spouse’s dreams?
  • How does my spouse support my dreams?
  • When have we competed with each other, and what was the affect on our marriage? …on our children?
  • If I were to speak with my spouse about competition in our marriage, I would want him/her to know that….
  • How do I complete my spouse? How does he/she complete me? What’s missing?

Asking yourself these questions can bring your awareness to a conversation that would be beneficial for your marriage. With completing each other in mind, we can begin to share more, forgive more, accept more, grow more, and dream more. And most importantly, in the end, you can both discover the many ways that your partnership is, and/or can become, one of the best partnerships of your life. 

It’s your life, lead it well. 


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