Monday, 15 October 2012

Marriage Is Not a Competitive Event

Outside the marriage:
Some couples compare their marriage to other couples, sometimes favorably and sometimes unfavorably. “Her husband opens the car door for her.”  “Did you see how affectionate his wife is to him?”  “All they do is bicker.” 

News flash – comparing your marriage to that of other couples serves no purpose.  Marriages that look rock solid on the outside may be a train wreck when they are behind closed doors.  Couples that seem to argue a lot may in fact communicate well, resolve issues, and have a healthy relationship.  In reality the purpose of comparing is to feel better about yourself or to attempt to manipulate your partner.  In either case such a comparison is self-centered. 

Just be direct with your partner.  “I’d like it if you opened the car door for me when we go out, it would make me feel special.”  “I really like it when you take my arm or hold my hand when we are out walking.”  Was that so hard?

Inside the Marriage:
This form of competition is probably more destructive but often pride and self-centeredness are the culprits here as well.  Some couples vie for being the “favorite parent” among the children, trying to win them over by being more lenient, spending more time with them, buying them what they want, giving in to their whims and desires, etc.

Some compete financially, with the one earning the higher salary making sure to mention it any time it is to their advantage.  Or maybe the one who perceives they have the more “important” job uses every opportunity to flaunt it.

 Another way of competing, in a sense, is to keep score of how much of the work you do around the house; or how much you are doing for your spouse that goes unappreciated; or how often you give in to the wishes of your spouse.  This only leads to a buildup of resentment.

So much for love and respect!
I have always prided myself (that’s the first problem) on being a good loser.  I was born in an era when it was said, “It is not whether you win or lose its how you play the game.”  When you lose a lot it is helpful if you’re good at it.  A few years after my wife and I married we began to play Scrabble.  I began to realize that I wasn’t such a good loser and that she was highly competitive.

This became a valuable lesson for me as I began to look at my heart.  I’ve gotten better at losing at Scrabble, in part because I came to realize that my relationship with my wife in all areas of our life is far more important to me than playing one-upmanship in any area of our life. 

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