I’m really stressed out right now (what with the new baby and all), and when I’m stressed out it’s really tempting to try to convince the people around me, especially my husband, that I’m more stressed out than they are. Right now the biggest source of stress is adjusting to our new roles as parents, so I often find myself tempted to argue with my husband about who is more tired, who is busier, who is sacrificing the most.
When I look around me, I see that I’m not the only one who does this. People regularly compete with each other about who is the unhappiest, most tired, most stressed, most overworked, and most hurt. It often comes with the phrase, “Oh, that’s nothing… Listen to this!” or “You think YOU have it bad?” Sadly, it can even happen when people are really struggling and reaching out for support. I saw this once when a friend was sharing about how much she was struggling with post-partum depression as a new mom, and someone else shot back, “Well, just be grateful you are able to have babies! We’ve been trying for years, but every time I get pregnant, I have a miscarriage. Some people would feel lucky to be in your position!”
The truth is, when you are hurting, it doesn’t matter if someone else is hurting worse. Knowing that someone else has a struggle that appears worse than yours doesn’t make yours feel any better. Every person has a right to their own feelings, and replying to someone else’s struggle by pointing out that it is not as big or as important as yours doesn’t help anyone.
Because I’ve realized this truth, I am trying very hard to avoid comparing my stress, sleepiness, and busyness to my husband’s. All that will do is make me feel worse because I wish my problems were smaller and discourage him from sharing with me because I belittle his problems when he does share them. As hard as it is not to compare, I don’t want to focus on my problems and I do want my husband to share his problems with me, so I’m doing all I can to avoid comparing. After all, unhappiness is not a competition.