We’ve all heard the expression “The Grass is Always Greener on the Other Side” throughout our lives, and I actually find it to be a useful mantra whenever I start feeling sorry for myself. It is so easy to lose sight of our blessings and develop a jaded perspective, particularly when we’re faced with examples of the situations we do not find ourselves in.
I was (again) reading Your Life. Live it. Love it. recently, and a particular chapter really resonated with me. A passage called “The Grass is Always Greener Right Under Your Feet” serves as an awesome reminder of just how powerful our own perspective can be when it comes to our happiness.
My life is full of examples of “what ifs” and “if onlys” and I’d like to share a few with you to see if you can relate. I’ll take a peer over into my world from the perspective of someone with beautiful, free, single, wealthy, independent and uninhibited grass.
And then I’ll tell you why I don’t give a damn about their green grass!
Marriage is Hard
I got married when I was young and straight out of college. If I wouldn’t have tied myself down, I could have spent the last nine years living an independent and free lifestyle. I could have experienced relationships with many different women, spent a lot of fun times with my buddies and probably improved my golf game considerably.
I could have traveled extensively and experienced all that the world has to offer. Incredible opportunities for wealth and entrepreneurial success would have been mine for the taking, and I could have taken part in all of the amazing adventures that I have only read about in books.
Kids are Expensive
I have two small children and one on the way. The sacrifices that my children require in time and loss of independence are really incalculable. The constant pressure and burden of providing for their every need is really stressful, and it makes it very difficult to care for myself and experience any truly free time.
My kids also cost a lot of money. Their childcare costs alone would allow me to live in a house that costs more than twice my current home. If I didn’t have the ongoing expenses associated with their food, clothing, entertainment and activities, I would have amassed a very nice nest egg by now. And I’d be driving a sweet ride that didn’t require car seats.
Responsible Adulthood is Confining
I have a lot of stress in my life that is caused by all of the things I choose to do as a “responsible adult.” Aside from spending a lot of time with my wife and children, I have a full-time professional career, a growing blog (about marriage of all things), church activities, community service and commitments of time to my extended family and friends.
If I instead lived at home with my parents and spent my time doing only the things that I enjoy, I would have an incredibly flexible and stress-free lifestyle. I could drink beer and play video games late into the night, and I’d be able to take a trip to Vegas or go on a ski trip in the Rockies at the drop of a hat.
I would have the life that poor schmucks with a 9-to-5, a mortgage and tee-ball coaching duties can only dream about.
If only…I’d have a great life!
I Don’t Give a Damn About That Grass
I love my life.
When you peer over a proverbial fence and look at my yard with a judging eye, you’re likely to see some rough patches, some areas that have been neglected for lack of time and several crazy kids running around making a lot of noise. My property isn’t as large as some, and it has some fences around it that may make others feel a bit trapped.
But it’s my grass, and it represents all that makes life so precious in my world.
- That free and independent lifestyle would not have fulfilled me and given me unconditional love for the last nine years.
- That big house would feel really empty without happy children and a beautiful wife inside.
- Those trips around the world would be worthless within a life that has no meaning.
The grass will always look greener on the other side…and I don’t give a damn.
Instead, I thank God for every beautiful blade of grass that I find on our side of the fence.
Can you relate?
What part of your “lawn” do you love even though others may view it as weeds?
Please share your thoughts in the comments!Photo by Geoff Penaluna
Love this post! I have a personality that is prone to “grass is greener” syndrome. I am well aware of it, so I have found ways to combat the lie that others always have it better!
Let me just say though, as one who has been single all through my 20’s: I could easily write a post about how your married yard looks way better than my single-city-apartment with literally NO grass lol. But you seem to know that.
On the flip side, now that I am getting married, there is a part of me that mourns the loss of my singleness. I’ve had chances to live in Europe and travel, chances to pursue my own interests and own my time — some of these things will probably never happen or not happen very often now. In fact, I think being single longer has made it a little harder to process that. But, reading your post reminded me that it’s okay to let go. Choosing love is really what ultimately brings fulfillment when we look back on our lives, I believe.
Thanks for your great insights, Sarah. I totally agree with you that it is love that brings ultimate fulfillment to our lives!
You’re hitting the nail on the head here, Dustin – great post.
I’ll admit that I’ve fallen into the trap of thinking, “if only…” a time or two (or 2,000). The problem I find in those moments is that all I’m doing is looking back at the past – things I cannot change. Likewise, some of the best memories and decisions I’ve ever made are still with me (like marrying my wife). After I get over my own self-centeredness in thinking, “if only…” I begin to feel sorry for those who have such a difficult time finding deep pleasure and contentment with their lives.
So, instead of facing backwards, I find it a lot more productive to look ahead and ask, “What’s next?” with the people I love.
Right on, Derek! You are SO right that looking back and focusing on things we cannot change is counter-productive and a waste of valuable time and energy. There is much more to be gained by looking ahead and planning for our future.
The funny thing about this post is that I want some weeds! My husband and I are the only couple in our circle of friends that don’t have kids. And, yes that means we get to do a lot of things that they don’t, and when we do stuff with our friends it is way easier for us and we don’t have to pack as much stuff. But, we are so ready to add that little weed to our yard! (We are in the process of adopting and are just waiting for “the” phone call that turns life upside down for us.)
We are not blindly going into this thinking it will be all giggles and cute baby cheeks we are ready for all the fits, diapers, sleepless nights, money for daycare, formula, after school activities, packing twice as much stuff for weekend trips and vacations, finding a babysitter when we want a date night, and the list goes on and on.
I’m ready to mess our yard up a bit and enjoy every moment of it!
I love it, Jen! I can’t wait to hear from you and share in your joy when your “little weed” arrives to share your household. I know you’ll love it!
Nice post. It’s so easy to think about all the things that you DON’T have, yet forget all the things that you DO have. I’m constantly reminded that I need to be content, and live life in the present.
And I also heard someone say, “The grass is always greener where you water it.” I take this to mean that you do have a certain amount of control in improving your own situation. So I do what I can, and try not to worry about the rest.
.-= Darren´s last blog ..$25 Free To Invest With Lending Club =-.
Thanks, Darren. Contentment is definitely a struggle for me, and I agree that it comes back to living in the present and appreciating those blessings that you have been given to enjoy.
And I love that quote: “The grass is always greener where you water it.” Thanks for sharing it. 🙂
The thing i miss about being single is the crazy stories i used to get out of it. Everyone was always keen to hear how my weekend went, because something interesting would have always happened. My best friend and I ended up in some crazy situations. So now people ask how my weekend was, and its like “oh, we made chicken cacciatore and watched Mad Men” and it sounds incredibly boring. Having said that, even though it sounds boring, i don’t feel bored. i feel as though i’m exactly where i’m meant to be right now, and i feel so incredibly fulfilled just by spending time with my husband.
As for parts of my life that other people may view as weeds, when my husband and I first met, it was a pretty rocky start. he made some really poor decisions in his life, which resulted in us breaking up for almost 2 years before finding our way back to each other. Ending the relationship at the time was horrible, because I was pretty convinced he was the one, and it certainly left some scars for both of us. Its all pretty much a distant memory now. It was an important learning experience for us, but people always want to comment on how we could have got back together, after all that crap we went through. I guess that was just the path we had to go on to get to where we are now. Its been hard and ‘weedy’ but it was all worth it to have this moment
.-= Mary´s last blog ..Geek vs Nerd =-.
Thanks for sharing your great story, Mary. It’s so cool to hear from couples who have hit those rough patches but reconciled to build a marriage for life.
Now I want to hear some of those crazy stories from single life! 😉
you probably don’t. My best friend was a crazy person who dragged me into all sorts of interesting situations.
One night she picked up this guy, and I was waiting for her with his friend and we got talking about God He was a lapsed Catholic. he said it was too late for him, as he had done so much bad stuff in his life, that he’d never be saved, and we had a huge conversation about the forgiveness of God, and his mercy and stuff. it was really good. THEN he says he’ll come to Mass with me the next day… if i sleep with him.
I decided my friend could look after herself and removed myself from the situation. Boys are dumb. That’s usually the theme of my stories.
.-= Mary´s last blog ..Geek vs Nerd =-.
That is a GREAT story, Mary! Thank you for sharing, and I agree that boys are dumb. 🙂
Well-said, Dustin. Sure, staying unmarried and living in my parents’ house would allow me all kinds of freedoms and allow me to save all kinds of money for indulging myself, but a free life is generally a lonely life. Being “tied down” means being “tied to loved ones,” and that is worth so much more than wealth and freedom for me.
.-= Kathleen Quiring´s last blog ..Four Marriage Myths Debunked =-.
Well said, Kathleen! I hadn’t thought of being “tied down” as being “tied to loved ones” and I love that perspective.
I tell my kids my favorite flowers are dandelions, so they pick those instead of the “real” flowers…so bring on the weeds 🙂
.-= Chelle´s last blog ..42 Romantic Evenings Ideas =-.
Ha Ha, Chelle! I say the same thing, but my kids pick the dead dandelions and then blow the seeds all over the place. We could have a dandelion farm in our yard!
i jjust wrote a post about this… i found out a girl i know became a stay at home mom and i got jealous b/c i’m still working. thought her grass was greener staying with kids while i’m away from mine. (see my blog on monday for my post)
it felt good to vent about it and i’m sure in a few days i’ll be back to being glad i’m a working mom. but at the moment i was angry. so hard but i’m so blessed and loving my life.
.-= julia´s last blog ..i wear work clothes =-.
I totally understand, Julia. My wife and I have struggled at times with that same decision, and she has remained in the workforce (as a teacher). There are definitely “those days” though where the alternative seems so attractive. On the other hand, we know of women who left the working world only to regret it and want to return to a professional career (and struggling to do so).
I also got married right out of college. All the things you mention about a bigger house, better cars, more time is very true, and I would be lying if I said I never thought about them, but at the same time I also value that we have been together since I was 20 and we can share memories from the last 11 years. There is value in having someone to “grow up” with, even if it didn’t make us super rich and famous 🙂 When I was in college I spent a summer working in Yosemite National park, it was an awesome time that I will always remember, but because I did it by myself, it only lives in me, I have no one to share those memories with. But when my husband and I lived in Germany together, those memories seems more real because I have some to remember them with.
Thank you for sharing this, Julie. I love your point that making memories isn’t all that special when you don’t have someone to share them with.
I get so much more from you guys reading and commenting than I ever provide in the original posts! 🙂
The grass isn’t always greener. It may appear that way from afar, but when you actually get there it isn’t.
We are new parents, and we cannot go out as much, don’t have as much time, and don’t have as much money as we used to. So what? Now, when I come home from work I have a wife and baby waiting with big smiles. You can’t put a price tag on things like that…
.-= Tim´s last blog ..Tips For Finding Time To Read =-.
I totally agree, Tim! It really is a priceless experience to return home to those that love you. And just wait until that boy of yours is old enough to greet you with a hug and *tell you* that he loves you after you’ve had a long day. It rocks. 😉
I had to laugh at the paragraph about dating lots of women and improving your golf game. Odds are, that would have been the case, but what if you’d ditched adult responsibilities and still couldn’t get better at golf or find a date? Oh, that would have been a massive mistake to let Bethany get away! As I like to say, be thankful! And that is yet another point you’re trying to make with “the grass is greener” in your own yard.
To take the long view, our lives now are an investment towards our old age, too. If we don’t get married, if we don’t have kids, and if we don’t bother to pay off our debts/mortgage before retirement, that would be so detrimental to our “golden years”. I want to be an old lady who hopefully has a marriage that has stood up through time, grandkids to spoil, and grown children to love and continue to serve as their mother. You can’t have any of that if you don’t put in the time/energy/discipline when you’re younger and don’t pay attention to how blessed your life is now!
Wendy, thanks for giving me the benefit of the doubt and saying that “odds are” I actually would have dated lots of women and improved my golf game. 🙂
I love your long-view perspective on the importance of the relationships/family we build now!
I just celebrated my 50th birthday last week, and in the run-up to that big threshold I was definitely having some of those “Is the grass greener” and “What if” kinds of reflections. (You can read my post on how my wonderful wife and children helped me through this mini-mid-life-crisis in the link below.)
The bottom line is that I know that I’m one of the most blessed men on the face of the planet, and I really don’t have any reason to give a thought the “grass on the other side.”
Thanks for the encouraging reminder!
.-= Scott´s last blog ..Naked Without Shame – A Last Look =-.
Thanks for sharing a great story, Scott. Thank YOU for your encouraging reminder right back. 😉
wonderful, perfect, Amen Amen.
.-= Samantha @ Mama Notes´s last blog ..$50 Gift Certificate to Moody Mamas: Maternity Clothing Giveaway =-.
Thanks Samantha, and thank you for your kind words about this post on Twitter.
Dustin, you have a good knack for writing articles that draw people in!
We are all at different stages of our lives, and constantly are attracted to the seemingly glamour lives of others. But not so glamorous, when you scratch around.
We have 6 children, the oldest 14 and a 1/2, youngest 2 and a 1/2. They cost us plenty, but they also give us plenty to smile about.
Have a look at http://www.Families4Life.com/About/ for our family photo at Christmas. My 2 older girls are nearly taller than me. I suppose I better start being nice to them.
Thanks so much for the kind words, Gerry! I totally agree with you, and you have a beautiful family!
Actually, just did a back to back comparison, they are as tall as me!
I had left you a huge comment, but I forgot my email and just don’t feel up to it anymore… So on to bullet form!
– I think it is important to realize that we make our own happiness. We choose everyday to be happy or not and be grateful about the things we do have in life.
– I noticed that just about every marriage blog is religiously oriented. Seems I am an anomaly for being both secular and treating marriage as a life-long commitment. Maybe I am just a hopeless romantic.
– Thanks for a great blog. As a secular, soon-to-be married man I enjoy how you split up your blogs such that I can still enjoy the information that’s relevant to me (like 95% of it. Rock on!).
Oh so well said! I think we’re all plagued with the grass is greener syndrome at various points in our lives. But I’ve come to realize that while it may look greener, it doesn’t mean better and what I’ve got right in front of me is spectacular already, and suits me perfectly. 🙂
Thanks for the great reminder!
I think its important to remember that “weeds” aren’t necessarily things like kids or jobs or whatever else we believe is weighing us down or holding us back. I once heard someone say that “the grass isn’t greener on the other side. It just seems like it. But when you take a closer look you realize everyone else’s yard is the same as yours. Full of crab grass and poo.” I think it comes down to our perception of things. The very things we think we want or need have their own downsides if we’re willing to look at them objectively. If we’re busy watering our own grass, not only will our focus not be on what others seem to have/not have but our grass will become lush and green and everything that it was meant to be!
I have witnessed so many friends who just got bored and wanted the excitement of a new relationship, so they got a divorce. Sad thing is, in about 3 to 5 years, they fall into that exact same cycle again while they have put the kids through a rough time, financially starting over again and like most Dads, become an “every other weekend” father. Look at what you have and appreciate it! I talk of experience…and man, what a mistake it would have been.
Thanks for sharing this, RC. I’ve witnessed the same with the cycle of restlessness and infidelity, and of course it’s sad to witness.
I’m with you – Appreciate What You Have!!
Thank you for this article, I can relate on almost every level. We are 25 and 27 and have two beautiful babies – one is almost 3 years old and the other is 5 months. It’s sometimes tempting to envy the grass our fellow 20-something friends live on, but there is no equal experience to watching your child discover life and the world for the first time. There is also no experience as humbling and awakening. Without my husband or kids, I would still be a selfish, insecure child myself, desperately seeking direction. So even though my kitchen is never clean and we forgot the weed treatments for our lawn this year (clearly), the grass under our feet is as green as ever. Thank you for your blog – this really touches people like us!