I have been in a relationship with my boyfriend for five years. We have economic difficulties that prevent us from getting married. I can’t help feeling envy, desperation, and sadness in my heart every time someone else announces their upcoming marriage. I just try to hide my feelings and attend the wedding even though I feel badly about it. I don’t know how to get this envy out of my heart and be glad with those who are glad. I can’t feel happy seeing that others have been blessed by marriage before me, and not knowing how much longer I’ll have to wait. What can I do?

Dear Friend,

It is good that you recognize that envy is detrimental to you. By allowing your thoughts to return often to comparing what you have with what others have, you are condemning yourself to unhappiness. Emotionally mature adults accept the fact that life is not fair, has never been fair, and will never be fair, and then they determine to make the most of what they have. On the other hand, those who compare themselves to others in any area of life, believing that there should be some kind of equality or fairness, are constantly disappointed. Anger and hostility follow, isolating them from friends and family, which in turn increases unhappiness.

In your case, we don’t know if you lack the economic resources for the wedding, or if you lack the resources to support yourselves independently after the wedding. Because the weddings you attend bother you so much, we will assume that you lack the funds for the wedding that you would like to have.

Weddings are the cause of envy in many women around the world. They see beautiful weddings on television and in the movies, and they begin to believe that the lavish event and elaborate wedding gown are necessary in order to be married. And they see families attempting to prove their wealth and social status by inviting all their acquaintances to an expensive dinner following the ceremony. Yet none of these things are what make a good marriage, as evidenced by the number of divorces that follow weddings within just a few years.

When our daughter was married a few years ago, we did not have the money for her and her fiancé to have an expensive wedding. So we offered her a small amount of money with the advice that they were welcome to spend it on a place to live instead of using it for a wedding. They decided to be married in a park and then have a few family and friends over to a house for a small party afterwards. I arranged some flowers, one friend made the cake, and other friends cooked some food. It was a lovely ceremony and a great party, but it didn’t cost very much money. We were proud of them for deciding not to waste a lot of money on a big party that would only last a few hours.

The writer of the book of Hebrews taught, “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’”(1) In these words we can find the remedy for envy: to be satisfied with what we have and to depend on the help of God for what we really need. Ask God to forgive you for the envy in your heart and to help you trust Him to take care of your future.

We wish you the best,

1 Heb 13:5