Why competition is bad for marriage


Now, the most foolish form of competition is that in a marriage.

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I am one of those people vouching for the Competency Based Curriculum (CBC). If only they could give our teachers practical training to implement it as it was intended, we will, in 20 years, see a transformed nation. I am all for the CBC because it will eventually do away with the ranking system and focus on progressive assessment of the learner.

The ranking is what has created the idiotic competition we witness in every aspect of our lives today, for example, on our roads. You have seen it when you indicate that you want to overtake a hitherto slow car ahead of you. The driver usually notices and immediately steps on the accelerator with mad urgency as if you are in a race to a finish line.

How does that make his life better? What about the shoving that happens when a lift opens? Competition has its place – in the Olympics’ field. Anywhere else is ill-informed as we are all on different paths and destinations. How does it help my life that I was number five or ten out of whatever number in our class? My grades and learning curve have helped my life, but not how I ranked against others. They were and still are on their paths as I am on mine.

Foolish competition

Now, the most foolish form of competition is that in a marriage. A man shared how this has destroyed his marriage. What started as a show of muscles has now become a full-blown war. Mutual respect, love, and oneness, which is the glue for a marriage, has taken a hike.

And it all started with a phone upgrade! He wanted to show his wife that he could outdo her when she upgraded her phone and could not stop marvelling at her new buy. He went ahead and paid the last coin in his account to acquire a phone three levels up.

“I felt that she was showing off, and I wanted to show her that she had not awed me in any way,” he told me. He blames himself for going overboard, and now that his wife has packed and left, he is wondering what that competition was about.

“She left because of the competition?” I asked.

“Not really…but it started with the competition.”

Had an affair

He blamed Satan for misleading him because, as it turned out, he started an affair with a woman he considered better than his wife. She was everything his wife was not.

“She was nothing like my wife…how do I explain it?” he hesitated, then asked me, “Have you ever bitten a fruit that looked sweet on the outside, only it is full of worms on the inside?”


Which explains why he lays the blame on Satan. Now he wants his wife back and has even bought her a phone many upgrades above his own. I hope the counsellor will help them learn something that a wise lady once told me,

“Men are mean competitors. If you must compete with your husband, let it be about who can outdo the other with goodness.”

Does it mean that we are always doing good for each other? No, not by a mile. I keep reminding us - Me, Myself, and I - to do good by him, deliberately, intentionally so that in doing this: “I will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward me abundantly.” This wisdom is derived from the Biblical text in Proverbs 25:22.

The fact that Hubby can so easily carry up to third floor two, 20-litre bottles of water simultaneously and not break a sweat does not in any way provoke me into a competition. It sure tempts me to squeeze his muscles, more from curiosity than from comparison to mine.

The problem with the mindset that what a man can do, a woman can do better, is the element of competition it sets and the standard of measurement it introduces. Basically, the statement pits me against my husband and limits my standards to his.

 In so many ways, the mantra achieves the very opposite of what it was intended. It implies that a woman can only do as much or better than a man. I do not think there should be any space at all to compare men and women. We are individuals. There are things I can do better than most other people, men, or women, just as there are things other people can do way better than I can.

Karimi is a wife who believes in marriage. [email protected]