Like an enemy I knew as intimately as any friend, I came to know the nagging, constant emptiness of the incongruent life. I ignored myself and lived for people, purposes, and goals that weren't my own. I betrayed who I was and instead accepted a fictional substitute that was defined from the outside in.
Willpower is a myth. The problem with trying to use willpower to achieve and sustain a behavioral change is that it is fueled by emotion. And as we all know, our emotions are, at best, fickle. They come and go. When your emotions start running down -- and they will -- even your best-laid plans will fall flat.
Why do so many marriages fail? Because nobody gets taught how to be married. We're not taught how to pick a mate, or why to pick a mate; we don't know how to manage our emotions once we're in a marriage; we don't know how to resolve marital conflict. Married people have never been taught why they or their spouses feel the way they do and act the way they do. Nobody has ever taught us the fundamentals.
There has never been a merging of two lives where significant problems of daily living did not occur. One way or another, your relationship is going to be affected. The only question is how. There's a big difference between knowing and doing. It's not what happens between partners that determines the outcome of a relationship, it's how they handle what happens. If all you deal with in your relationship is problems, then you will have a problem relationship. If you want your pound of flesh with full acknowledgement that you're right, your future will be dim.
Right now, make a list of what you admire about yourself- don't stop until you've filled a page. Sit and relish each quality and accomplishment. When you remember how much you have to be proud of, you don't need to envy others. Instead of wallowing in your jealousy, use your friends' accomplishments as inspiration to pursue the life you want.
If your neighbor has a completely different view on abortion, gay marriage, stem cell research, all of those things, you still are both Americans. Neither one of you is necessarily more patriotic than the other. Neither loves their country any more than the other one does.