Everyone wants to be in a happy relationship. That’s a given. We want to feel like we’re in the best relationship we could possibly be in, and we want to be just plain happy. Of course, we want our partners to be happy as well. Hopefully, this is the case with your current relationship. Or, if you’re not in one at the moment, maybe that’s why you got out of it. Maybe you just weren’t as happy as you could’ve been. If you are in one, what if you were doing something every day that’s silently chipping away at the health and happiness of that relationship? What if it was even something you were doing without realizing it?
Many times, when people are in a relationship that’s in trouble, they don’t see the trouble until it’s too late. Little things build up for awhile without realizing what’s happening. You may be in a perfectly happy relationship and think that there’s nothing for you to worry about. Hopefully, you’re absolutely right. But, what if something you’re doing is actually putting your relationship in jeopardy?
So, what is this thing we’re talking about?
Expecting Total Equality in Your Relationship
In a perfect world, couples would be true equals. Your quirks would balance out his; he would be strong when you’re weak. Your workload and emotional burdens would be the same. But guess what? They’re just not.
Of course you should treat each other fairly and always strive to maintain mutual respect and equal gratitude. But, I guarantee you there are times when you have resented your partner because you felt like you were just “doing more.” That is a dangerous, dangerous game, friends.
When you start thinking of your relationship as a system of checks and balances, it’s really easy to skew those results in your favor. You can clearly see all the ways you’ve worked hard or been great because you were there for all of it. However, you might not be so fast to note all the work your boyfriend or husband puts in. Let’s face it, we can all be self-centered, and it’s a lot easier to notice all of our own hard work than someone else’s.
There are going to be times when you put more into your relationship. That is 100% fact. There are going to be times when your husband or boyfriend puts more into your relationship. That, too, is 100% fact. If you spend your time focusing on who’s giving what or who’s doing what, you will damage your relationship. To what extent, who knows really. That depends on you and when you decide to stop caring about whether or not you’ve cleaned equal parts of the house or given equal amounts of affection and attention lately.
Let’s be honest here, since that’s what this blog is all about. I have allowed myself to participate in this type of thinking many times. I work a full time job just like my husband. At the end of the week, I clean our house from top to bottom unlike my husband. How easy would it be to get annoyed by that? I can tell you, really dang easy. It’s not just housework we’re talking about though. It’s the emotional parts of your relationship as well.
There are many times where I’ve felt like why am I the one who has to do x, y, z when I have just as much going on as he does? Can you hear the pettiness in that type of thinking? I hope so because I surely can. That’s really easy to say now though and not so much in that moment when I’m standing at the sink and he’s fishing. I’m getting real here people. Join me.
Recognizing that you’re doing this type of stuff is the first step to stopping it. And you must stop it. Every time you allow yourself to go down that road, a block of resentment settles right into your relationship. At times, you may be more giving than your partner and you make a point to notice it. Another block. A week goes by and you’ve managed all the accounts, paid all the bills, and bought all the groceries with little recognition of the time it took from your schedule. Two more blocks. Now you’re building a wall. This is how relationships get into major trouble.
When you fixate on whether or not things are 50/50, you’re creating impossible standards to live by. There’s no way that you would be able to perfectly balance out every chore, every act of kindness, and every bit of hard work. That would be completely exhausting not to mention a complete waste of your time and energy.
Let Go of Expectations and Accept Reality
Expectations can get us in a lot of trouble. It’s unfair to your partner to have an idea of the way you think things should go, and then get upset when it doesn’t play out like that. How would anyone be able to please you? They can’t. And if your partner feels like he can never please you, he’ll start building his own wall–a wall of frustration. Now we’ve got a real recipe for disaster. You’re full of resentment and he’s had enough.
You can stop that from happening. Shift your focus. Try to notice all the things that he is doing that have made your day a little easier, a little happier. Put yourself in his shoes, and imagine what his day has been like. My husband works long hours at a really difficult job. I know that what he deals with on a regular basis does not compare to my work struggles. But guess what? He doesn’t compare our jobs. Instead, he supports me and listens to me even when what he dealt with might have been “worse.”
You never know what might have happened during the day that your husband or boyfriend set aside in order to be there for you. He made an effort to come in with a positive attitude instead of letting work ruin your time together. Maybe you feel like being extra affectionate on that particular night. If you expected him to come home and be equally affectionate towards you and he wasn’t, you probably would be both annoyed and disappointed. And you just let expectations cloud your reality. You overlooked the fact that he actually did put you first. You missed it because it wasn’t the way you expected him to do it. It wasn’t your version of equality.
You’re not in your relationship to keep score
The reason that you’re in your relationship is because you love your partner. You don’t want them to feel anything other than truly and sincerely loved. It’s really hard to feel that way if you constantly hear about all the ways you’re not doing enough. No one starts a relationship by signing a contract agreeing to equal terms at all times.
Relationships are all about give and take. There’s no way to give if all you do is complain about how much is taken from you. It goes back to having a servant’s heart. You’re contributing to someone else’s happiness and thinking about how what you’re doing is a humble gift to your partner. No one wins by you holding on to all the ways you think you did too much or your boyfriend or husband didn’t do enough.
The honest truth…
I am guilty of doing less for my husband than he does for me. If I really did sit down and somehow calculate all the different ways we could “score” our relationship, he would win. No matter how many loads of laundry I may do or bathtubs I may scrub, he has done more for me than I could ever repay.
Besides the fact that he does a lot of work around the house like I ask him to, he also works hard at our relationship. He is kind and thoughtful in ways that I’m not sometimes. He puts up with my bad moods and snappy attitude after a long day. We’re definitely not 50/50 when I’m having a difficult time. It is 100% him keeping us afloat. How grateful am I that he doesn’t expect total equality? I bet if you think about it too your husband or boyfriend does the same things for you.
We have to understand our differences
At a time when equality is certainly on the minds of our society, we cannot make the mistake of trying to force that into our relationships. There’s no place for it when you love someone. You won’t ever find it. Be thankful instead that there is someone around who can pick up your slack. Men and women truly do carry different burdens in relationships. Women tend to carry the emotional load and men often deal with the practical things. They are both difficult in their own, individual ways. It does no good to compare the two. They’re not the same, and you won’t ever find an equal solution. Do your best to carry your burdens gracefully, and be thankful that your partner is around to carry his.
Leave a comment and let me know if I’m the only one who’s ever been guilty of letting expectations of equality influence my relationship.