Marriage Viewpoints: The Grass Isn’t Always as Green as It Seems

the grass is greener

Green Grass Takes Investment

My first job out of college was at a small newspaper in Virginia, where the star reporter dipped snuff at his desk, and the town’s first Super Wal-Mart was big news.

I hated it there and was convinced if I could just get on at a larger paper in a less-hick town, I’d love my job. I spent about five years hopping from paper to paper until I realized it wasn’t the town or my editor or the paper I didn’t like. I just didn’t like being a reporter. I either needed to change professions or figure out a way to like my job.

I opted for the former, and I was much happier. Too bad I didn’t discover this sooner in my marriage.

You see, I had the same “grass is greener mentality” with my relationship with Fred. I always thought everyone else had a better marriage than mine. Their husbands washed dishes or their husbands woke up in the middle of the night with the baby or their husbands did – fill in the blank. And quite frankly I was robbing myself of happiness by comparing my spouse and my marriage to everyone else’s.

The reality is all marriages are full of happiness and sadness; good times and bad; disappointment and excitement. Maybe some relationships have more crying than laughter and vice versa, but essentially they are all the same. Yet many women – and men – torture themselves with the notion that if only my spouse were thinner or made more money or spent more time with the kids, then my life would be happier.

Just like with my reporting career, however, I’ve had to realize that there is no perfect marriage or perfect spouse — each of them has their own unique mixture of flaws and attributes. If I want a happier marriage, the key isn’t external, but internal. I’ve got to be willing to invest in it. After all, the neighbor’s grass is only greener if they’re putting more work into it. – KayEm

Greener Grass is Dangerous

Many years ago, I worked in a paper mill. That’s where I met Mike. Mike was a rugged outdoor type who loved to fish, hunt, and drive his Chevy pick-up truck. He was also an intelligent and knowledgeable construction manager. Since I was as green as a peapod, I immediately latched myself to him.

Within a few months, Mike became not only my mentor, but also my friend. He taught me many things about work and about life.

But things fell apart when she appeared.

She was an attractive redhead named Dawn whose smile illuminated the entire jobsite. I could tell that Mike was attracted to her, but I didn’t pay much attention to their blossoming relationship because I knew Mike was a happily married man.

One morning, Mike asked me to ride with him to the back forty. This is where we always went to discuss private issues.

I hopped in the golf cart and we took off. Mike was unusually quiet, but I figured his mind was on work since we were in the middle of a critical project.

We parked behind an old warehouse and Mike lit a cigarette. He toke a drag and blew the smoke across his shoulder.

“I’m thinking about leaving my wife for Dawn,” he said off-handedly. “What do you think?” He looked at me to gauge my reaction. I remained stoic.

Unable to stand the silence, Mike rattled off a litany of reasons why he thought is was a good idea. After a several minutes of listening to Mike justify his decision, I begged him not to do it. I told him that leaving his wife for another woman was a BAD idea and that he, his wife, and their son would suffer greatly.

“You don’t understand because you’re not married yet,” he said. “Once you get married, you’re gonna find yourself at this very point.”

“I hope not,” I said.

Mike rolled his eyes at me, placed the golf cart in gear and drove back to our office.

After several years of marriage, Mike’s prediction came true. My wife and I reached a rough patch and I started to think that maybe my life would be easier if we just called it quits.

After some counseling, I realized the flaw in my logic. If I left my wife, I’d only acquire a different set of problems. No relationship is perfect when it is comprised of two imperfect people.

KayEm may not have everything I want, but she has everything I need and that makes her perfect for me.

Mike’s wife eventually found out about his affair and his life began to crumble. He lost his job, his wife, and his son all because he thought the grass was greener.

That’s why I work hard to keep my marriage well fed and tended to. I plan to keep my grass as green as possible. – Fred

Stay Strong,

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P.S. – I visited the paper mill a few years ago and saw Dawn. She told me that she and Mike broke up after being together for less than a year.

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About the author
Frederick J. Goodall is the founder of Mocha Dad - a parenting website focused on fatherhood. He is passionate about parenting and helping men to be great dads, husbands, and role models. You can contact him at fjgoodall@mochadad.com or on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/mochadad
  1. Fantastic post! I appreciate reading this from both sides.

    I read somewhere that the Pareto principle applied with grass-is-greener syndrome. There’s that 20% of our spouse that can really get us on edge if we let it (like KayEm stated, it’s internal – Gary Smalley has a great book on this: Love is a Decision).

    That 20% difference is that “greener” side we see in someone else. The problem is evident when you think of it logistically (as your counselor / friend pointed out to you) – it’s trading in that 80% of what you love for that 20% you think you’re missing. It’s a bad gamble all the way around.

    And way to go to both of you for being an example for your kids and supportive to your whole family! We need more examples like that.

  2. Pingback: How to Protect Your Marriage and Avoid an Affair

  3. I’m so thankful I found your blog. You are truly an inspiration to me and I’m sure many men who need some “real talk” and encouragement. When both partners are in agreement to work at it, the benefits are tremendous. My wife and I never had roles models of healthy marriages growing up. This is why we’ve soaked up books on marriage and sought out marriage mentors. Keep doing what you’re doing!

    • Thanks for your feedback. It is important to be honest and share real talk. Relationships aren’t always easy. They take work. We have to encourage and support one another by any means necessary.