A recent article on YourTango argues that equality in marriage is a fallacy.
The article focuses on a study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology of “millennials” – those born after Generation-X and Generation-Y. In the study, the writers describe millennials as “generation me” for their increased level of self-focus and introspection. It’s suggested that the millenial generation is more focused on the self and less focused on the group, society, and community – even more so than their aptly-named “me generation” baby boomer counterparts.
Author Jean M. Twenge, professor at San Diego State University, writes, “Young people have been consistently taught to put their own needs first and to focus on feeling good about themselves.”
High-self esteem is a good thing. It allows us to believe in ourselves, dream bigger, take chances and scale new heights. But has also created a society of young pleasure-seekers and narcissists who have unrealistic expectations in life. I should know: I was one of them.
Which is why I never lasted more than a year at virtually any job I had prior to becoming a dating coach. I was entitled. I didn’t want to do menial work. I thought that because I was smart, I DESERVED for people to recognize me. That same sense of entitlement bled into my love life – and I spent fifteen years, spinning my wheels on the wrong women because I was chasing a checklist of characteristics that are rarely found in one person. Fortunately, I learned my lesson the hard way. But the jury’s out on the millenials and their ability to put aside their selfish needs to focus on the greater entity that is a successful marriage.
Which brings us to the heart of the matter. Marriages aren’t about doing everything 50/50. It’s much more of an ebb and flow of constant giving and self-sacrifice. Says Scott Means, the author of the YourTango piece, “The problem with holding up fairness and equality as the main measuring sticks for a good marriage is that it turns what should be a partnership into a contest. Scorekeeping soon becomes the major pastime of the relationship.”
He continues, “Unfortunately, when you constantly fight for your part of the marital pie, pushing for your rights, agendas, fair share and expectations, you end up hurting your marriage. Even if you win, you actually lose. You lose intimacy in your relationship. You lose the joy of giving freely to another. You lose the delight found in simply delighting the one you love. You lose the atmosphere of respect and honor in your marriage.”
Whenever I refer to my patient, easygoing wife serving as an example to me on how to conduct myself, this is what I’m talking about. Acting with integrity. Keeping in mind the needs of your spouse. Saying yes to 95% of what my wife wants with no questions asked because it costs me nothing to do so and makes her happy. If you have to battle over every little thing where you disagree, you will have a lot of tension and friction along the way – no matter how much chemistry you have, education you have, or money you make. Good marriages are about making 100 tiny decisions every day with a minimum of conflict. If you’re keeping score, you’re not only wasting your time, but you’re hurting your partnership.
Read the article here. What would your relationship be like if you and your partner stopped keeping score and instead put each other’s best interests first? Share your thoughts in the comments below.