Sunday, July 21, 2024
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Is Couple Envy Getting You Down?

CC Photo Courtesy of born1945 via Flickr
CC Photo Courtesy of born1945 via Flickr

Love seats in furniture outlets, double occupancy rooms in hotels and tables for two at restaurants are but a few examples of the constants in a couples-oriented world. As a single person, you are reminded always that you are missing something or someone if you don’t fit into an equation that is divisible by two.

As a result, many singles feel the awkwardness that comes from being a singleton in a couples-focused existence. If you have been single for any length of time, that initial ecstatic freedom to do whatever you want, whenever you want starts to dwindle as you can start to feel like you are inadequate or missing something like a “better half.” But before you automatically accept that there is something wrong, realize it may be just a simple case of couple envy.

Happy, shiny people who gaze into each other’s eyes and are consumed in the very love they have for each other … It sounds wonderful if you happen to have someone like that around, but Ted, your cat on the couch, isn’t exactly making the grade these days. Couple envy happens when we start to feel jealousy as well as resentment toward people who are in committed relationships. They walk by us all the time, smiling and holding hands. There are even bicycles made for them so they can ride together in tandem, never separated. With couple envy, we can resent their happiness and spiral downward into a sense of inadequacy, a nagging feeling that there is something wrong with us if we happen to be single.

In our spiritual journeys, there is nothing fruitful about envying couples in committed relationships. If we are secretly jealous, then we are reminding ourselves of what we don’t have as well as reinforcing our own sense of inadequacy. Furthermore, we give the enemy fuel in spiritual warfare as he spins more lies that reinforce the thought that there is something wrong with us in our singleness.

The reality is that your true love has just not arrived yet. As part of God’s larger plans, your true love is en route or in transit, with the estimated time of arrival not exactly known.

Consider the metaphor of arriving earlier than planned at an airport and having a layover with time to spare. You have an opportunity for exploration at your destination, or you can fill that wait time with worry and self-doubt, as well as resentment. God can synchronize your life with another, but you need to be prepared to arrive at the same time at a similar location.

Maybe you are still being prepared through learning lessons that will help you appreciate your true love when they do arrive; maybe they are en route for whatever reason. In faith, you see the bigger picture of possibilities, but in fear, you feel emotionally paralyzed by a sense of loss and overwhelming grief. You may focus on what is missing instead of on what you are gaining.

Furthermore, the happy, shiny people passing you by as couples on their tandem bicycles are not always so content. All couples have emotional issues to work on. We never know what is going on behind the scenes in other people’s lives.

As a single person, you have the opportunity to work on your own issues, fulfill your goals and dreams, and grow in multiple areas of your life.

With couple envy, you may feel inadequate, having so much freedom to do whatever you want as you experience loneliness, but there are great opportunities in the liberty of singleness. You will not be single forever, and we change in many ways married life we change in many ways as our priorities start to shift into focus.

Enjoy this season, because in the multiple chapters of your life this is but a tiny one.

Most couples I know look back on their lives and wish they could extend their time when they were single. However, they wish they had known then that their true love was coming into their lives. With such a guarantee, they could have eased up and let God take care of them while enjoying the freedoms of being single. Now is your opportunity to take that guarantee that you will find true love, and enjoy life without letting couple envy steal your joy.

About Cathy Patterson-Sterling

Cathy Patterson-Sterling is a Christian counselor with a counseling ministry called Real Life Tool Box. She is an author, speaker, wife, mother and friend. Through her counseling ministry, she offers more than 50 e-learning audio play courses to help people grow in faith and have their healthiest relationships. She is passionate about helping people find freedom from fear or other emotional strongholds that are holding them back from living out their greatest potential in God's plans for their lives.
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