Recently I was asked to speak about the misconceptions people have in marriages. They wanted to know what was true and what was not, in terms of the time honored advice that we all get from loved ones about what we should expect in a marriage. Well, the first question I was asked was “Is marriage really 50/50?”
This one seems to stump so many of us, especially those of us who are really drawn to the idea of what is fair and balanced in this life. The truth is, in healthy relationships, the decision to “do” something for your spouse is not usually made based on what is fair, in a tit for tat kind of fashion, it’s made based on the honest and sincere desire in your heart to see that person happy because you genuinely love and care for them. When you have a good friendship, you don’t mind doing for each other because you view each other as playing for the same team. That sense of “we-ness” makes giving freely to one another seem natural. Of course, there are times when one of you may contribute more or less and it may seem unfair at times, but picking up each other’s burdens when the other is down is what makes healthy relationships work.
Chances are, if you find yourself getting caught up in who did what last–arguments over the dishes–it could be a sign that the friendship in your marriage is not getting enough attention. Perhaps its been awhile since you have had fun together, or it could be that your personal need for recharging has been ignored. Try to dig deep the next time you’re keeping track of “who did what” and ask yourself what else you might need (more time to relax, more fun time spent together, stress management). Then, find a way to ask for this missing thing, in a way that not only makes room for your needs without blaming your partner, but also lets them in to your internal world, allowing them to know you even better. Marriage is hard, but it can also be one of the most rewarding relationships in your life.