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Marriage Is Not a Competition

May 9, 2009 | by Emuna Braverman

When you hand over the screaming baby, at least try to smile.

Some women frequently complain that their spouses do nothing all day (except perhaps practicing their putting and going out for long lunches) and we do everything. When they walk in the door at the end of the day, we greet them with a screaming baby in one hand, dinner boiling over on the stove, spit-up on our clothes, and the welcoming message, "Here, it's your turn now."

Maybe it's just me, but that doesn't seem like an attitude conducive to a good marriage.

I already hear all the naysayers "What if I'm working too?" "What if this? What if that?"

When I try to advise my children about a preferred behavioral pattern, I address the whole gang. There is immediately a clamor: "Not me! Not me!" To which I rely on that age-old expression, "If the shoe fits…"

Just as we frequently feel un- or under-appreciated, so do our partners.

Marriage is a partnership. As some of our wise teachers have suggested, it's not 50/50. It's 100/100. It may make us (briefly) feel superior to focus on how hard we work all day and to assume that our husbands are lounging around (although last I heard Oprah's biggest audience was women!), but it doesn't enhance the quality of our marriages. It doesn't seem to be a good tool for building a lasting relationship.

Just as we frequently feel un- or under-appreciated, so do our partners. One possible tiny solution is that old fall-back: communication. You explain to your husband what you did all day and he explains to you what he did. Revolutionary? Unfortunately sometimes it is.

Marriage is not a competition. Most relationships have cycles with participation and effort being unequal at times but evening out over the long run.

Don't keep score. Focus on appreciation. And if you still feel compelled to hand over the screaming baby, at least try to smile first.


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