Friday, March 09, 2012

The Fairness Factor

So, I have a very real question. For those of you that are married, do you struggle with the "fairness" factor in your relationship? I do. It manifests itself in several ways for me. Primarily, household responsibilities and time to do what I want away from home.

I've recognized this problem of mine for several years now. I'd say it peaked after having kids, and I think that's why it continues to be a struggle for me. Before kids, I could claim household responsibilities (cleaning, mostly) as something I enjoyed and had plenty of time to do. Before kids, John could golf every night of the week and all day Saturday and it meant more TV time for me, or cleaning time, or friend time or shopping time for me.

I very recently may have been guilty of keeping a running tally in my head of the number of days/times/hours that John was away doing what he wanted to do (golf) while I was scrubbing floors/rocking a fussy baby/cleaning up dishes. It was a huge divide in our relationship, and certainly wasn't what I thought parenthood would be like.

The way cheesy story? I prayed about it. And continue to pray about it. And then when I prayed about it, it gave me time to calm down. So praying or just taking a moment to process your thoughts, whatever works for you, it's the best advice I've been able to follow at this point. Because, then I was able to communicate to John calmly. We had open conversation. In fact, when my deep-seeded anger for all things unfair reached it's head, we had really, really tough conversations about it.

He had no idea. He was used to me liking cleaning. He didn't know that it bothered me to be solely responsible for looking after our house. And the more the martyr in me spouted off the gazillion things I did around the house, the more defensive he became. And I was slapped in the face with all kinds of things I hadn't considered. Things he did that I don't even think about.

He cares for the lawn, the cars, the budget. He may not remember or feel responsible for making the kid's well baby checkups, but he makes sure we have the money in our bank account to cover co-pays. He may not think about new meal ideas and grocery shop, but he orders the pizza every time it needs to be ordered (I'm a phone-phone! I hate ordering things on the phone!). He may not dump out the milk in his cereal bowl, but he fixes the garbage disposal any time it acts up.

So, I guess we BOTH work pretty hard. I imagine no matter your situation, whether you are two working parents or one of you stays at home, you have this argument. I don't have an answer for you. Just last night John was asked to go golfing this Saturday and I whipped out "if you think you're golfing this weekend you're'll be working all day next Saturday and golfing all the the next". Luckily, he laughed at me since he knew that was a reaction borne out of the discussion coming up in the car, nowhere for me to go calm down before talking about it. And honestly, the boys get easier and easier to take care of as a single parent on the weekend, so both of us are in better places to "allow" time away.

But I'm curious if anyone else has fights that really come right down to fairness. What do you do to try and get over that? It will never be fair, it's so personal. We've done little things like assign certain chores to John (that I nag him about), we will both often wait to go out until after the kids are in bed, we got two DVR's so that we can have some alone time. But it's a constant, every day battle with me that I really don't like fighting!

Sidenote: I know this is TOTALLY random, but Operation Organization is showing me how much I miss blogging and all the things I could talk about that won't fit on Twitter. So for now, I'm posting with no plan or schedule or thought. Just the randomness from days of yore.


Tracey... said...

I TOTALLY AGREE AND CAN FEEL YOUR PAIN! We too have two different tv's for the same reason and I encounter the EXACT same feelings. Richard is a wonderful man and I think what I've realized is that he doesn't do anything on purpose and I think women just naturally notice that the dust is 3 inches thick or the plants need to be watered or the sink has to be wiped down. He sees the bigger picture and I see the details. It is a daily struggle with me too. I feel your pain.

Chrissie said...

This is totally something we struggle with. I love your post. I think it is often easy for me to think of all the things that I am doing that he isn't but not always as easy to see all the things he does that I don't have to worry about. We have talked a lot about how we think things will change when we have a baby and one thing we are talking about is the concept that as a STHM my work day and his work day will end at the same time. So once he is home, evening responsibilities, dishes and baby care will be split between us. We also planned that when one of us wants to go out without the other we are responsible for finding child care if it was needed. For us it is all theory until the summer but I am sure it will continue to be something we will have to intentionally have conversations about if we are feeling like things are not fair so bitterness does not build up.

alison said...

The part we struggle with I wouldn't really call fairness as much as there were times especially last fall where I felt like a a single parent for a several-hour stretch and it was HARD with a newborn and a 2 1/2 year old. Joey teaches a class at church on Wednesday nights and then teaches 2 boot camp classes per week (which saves us a family gym membership b/c he gets it free for teaching). I HATED that feeling. I was so stressed out I would melt at any moment. It took a LOT of conversation to organize our schedules so I wasn't so overwhelmed. It took something as simple as Joey coming home after work for 20 minutes (driving completely out of his way) rather than driving straight to church from work. It just gives us a short time to regroup as a family, for B to see daddy. We pretty much split housework 50/50. Ultimately, I'm the one who's going to remember to make the boys' well visit appointments, but as soon as I put them on our shared google calendar, he sees them and notes them. It's really been a matter of INSANE OVER COMMUNICATION that has saved us. Neither of us wants the other to feel slighted, and when it happens we don't always know.

Think of how great you're going to be at this marriage thing in 40 years?! :)

Flying High said...

Yep, us too. My husband can't cook, so I find myself stressing about making decent meals, and sometimes I just say "What are YOU cooking tonight?" which often ends in one of us going off in a huff. I think he just grew up with his mum always cooking, so he doesn't see me always doing it as unusual. I sometimes resent it because I'm tired, stressed and he's spent the day telling me how tired he is after a long flight, and I just want to shout "yep, I'm tired too, but do I go on about it? No!" Haha, I feel better now!

Mrs.Joe said...

We have this as well! I have to constantly remind myself of the things that my husband does "behind the scenes" so that I don't snap at him when he asks if I remembered to do something! Great post!