I have an acquaintance that I run into often at a particular Panera. If he is not with a client, he invites me over to his table. I bring my coffee and we chat. Somehow the conversation ends up being about marriage or something having to do with relationships.
This man has met my husband on a few social occasions and seems to know just how to get under my skin by telling me that he does not understand why I put so much into the marriage. He makes comments about how it is obvious to him that I love my husband more than he loves me. Knowing the subject matter of the first book I wrote (Stronger Than Broken) he thinks that I did most of the work in the reconstruction of the marriage.
I admit that my first and very defensive response is “So what! Why does everything have to be 50-50?” In my union to the man I have loved for more than half of my life, I never look at things in a way that would make me question his effort. Just as a side note, my Panera friend has had more than one divorce.
My husband has many talents and strengths. I have many talents and strengths. They can be quite different. Could you imagine if everything in the relationship had to be 50-50? Let’s envision that our children stayed in wet diapers for part of the day waiting for Daddy to come home because I had already done my half for the day. Let’s picture that when our roof needed to be replaced, I would have gone up on the ladder to do the left side and my husband the right side so it could be 50-50. That would terrify me when the first rain would come! When “we” homeschooled our children should I have graded only half of the papers so that he could grade the rest? Should he cook half of the meat on the grill and I the other half?
Maybe these are petty examples. I mean, relationships should be equal, right? Hmmmm. I’m not necessarily buying that. Where we are spiritually, how we were raised as children, what our socioeconomic level was growing up, our possible cultural differences and our personalities are unique.
Like the distinctive and delicious spices comingling together in a casserole that make the dish worthy of a feast, the strengths, weaknesses, and differences we have make our relationship flavorful.
Yes, perhaps I put more into the “relationship” part of our union. Perhaps he puts more into the providing part of our marriage. We share the cleaning and cooking and even the bill paying.
I know I am not the only woman who puts forth effort. I remember the first time I ever found validation that most women do tend to work harder on their relationship. It was when I began to read books by Laura Doyle. Check out https://www.huffpost.com/entry/exclusive-interview-with-laura-doyle-author-of-first_b_578535cce4b09c5504c4371f. Her views are refreshing in a world where we have become obsessed with equality. Laura describes successful marriages in a way that never makes me feel like a doormat and always reminds me that I am a wife to my husband and not his mother. Her first step when working with couples is the self-care of the woman. I resonate with that wholeheartedly!
Well, back to my Panera buddy. I tell him that I am thrilled that my husband and I don’t keep chits or memorandums saying who owes who what or who has done more of the work in the marriage. To me it is a big old so what!
So maybe this will still come across as defensive, but let’s get real. It’s not always 50-50. Deal with it.