Here is the one thing I can tell you that I know about marriage for certain: it is rarely, if ever, truly fair.
If this comes as unexpectedly bad news to you and you are unmarried, you may want to re-think any immediate plans to climb aboard that matrimonial train. My advice? Simple: Join a gym instead.**
** The gym commitment, though nearly as difficult to sever, will not saddle you with 4 kids and a mortgage. Plus, there are hot people there who like to get sweaty.
I am the kind of friend who will tell you that marriage, in spite of what, you may have seen in Lifetime Movies, is very rarely going to be fair.
And trying to make it fair, is just going to make it fail.
This is something I have known, from being married 15 years now, albeit those are a combination of years from two different marriages. And when I read this article (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/karl-a-pillemer-phd/marriage-counseling_b_1860595.html) from a Psychologist who studied 1,000 successful marriages between couples who had endured and flourished through many, many decades of matrimony, I became even more convinced that the concept of “equality” in a marriage just isn’t real.
And here’s why:
1) You can’t be married and always put yourself first
Articles in Time, CNN, even Forbes Magazine, over the last few years discuss the trend in the Millennial generation to delay marriage or reject it entirely for relationships that are less binding and more exploratory. The concept of The Beta Marriage (http://time.com/3024606/millennials-marriage-sex-relationships-hook-ups/) seems tongue in cheek, and yet it is rooted in the attitudes of a generation that has been taught to think for themselves, to please themselves, to seek out what makes them satisfied. These are not bad things; they are the things I want for my own children. But they ARE attitudes that, unless tempered, are difficult to maintain in the bond of marriage. She wants to go bass fishing. You want to go antiqueing. One of you is going to have to give up where you want to go, or you each go alone. And alone, in a marriage, can be very very lonely.
And how can you say “It’s all about me” and be willing to bite your tongue when your grown wife sings NKOTB songs in the shower. Every. Single. Morning. And alternates, with a bizarre randomness, between the melody and the harmony with each verse? You can’t.
You didn’t know one freaking song those no-talent ass clowns even sang before you married that woman and now you walk down the hallway in your office and now you’re all like, “Listen up everybody if you wanna take a chance. Just get on the floor to the New Kids dance.”
That’s embarrassing. Sure.
That’s not about pleasing yourself. No.
2) You can’t keep a scorecard
At any moment, in any given day, one of you is going to need more. He has to work late. I have a story to finish. The children are crying. They shout out requests in the kitchen like hostage negotiators: I want the blue sippy cup with the green lid or I’m taking this sharpie to the couch, you got that lady? Can you really stand there and take a moment to tally up the points? I warmed up the corndogs last night, it’s his turn to take the scissors away from the toddler? No. You both jump in, you do what you can. Or he does it, even if he did it last time, because you feel like dealing with sharp objects isn’t safe for you after being home with the terrorists all day.
Sometimes you will be the one who gets up every single night for a week when your baby is teething, because he has a big interview. And often, he will have to watch Dancing With The Stars and try not to notice when you cross and uncross your legs when Joey McIntyre sashays across the floor. And neither of you will do yourself (or the other) very much good if you have every “favor” or effort logged as ammunition against another sacrifice. It breeds resent, it makes every effort false. You don’t give her your hand as she steps out of the bath, only to remind her of that hand later. You offer your hand because you are alive and meant to love her and it is your vow to care for her. Even if she forgot your dry cleaning. And she covers you up in the night when you have kicked off the blankets, because she wants you to be warm. You forgot to do the dinner dishes, but she still wants you to be warm. It doesn’t add up, right?
But these things, these intangible gifts we give each other are not products of being equal.
They are products of, we do our best when we are asked to do our best. Or try to.
You have to police yourself, you have to know when it’s time to put her first or to ask him for help. But you can’t go tit for tat. In a marriage that is meant to last a lifetime, there’s no time for that.
3) It’s okay not to like it
|May the odds be ever in our favor|