Relationship fairness

Lesley and I were chatting today on our way to daycare pick up about fairness. A friend of ours reached out needing some help this weekend – her husband is going out of town to a boys weekend and she is dealing with some intense chronic pain stuff right now and will be alone with a toddler all weekend. I don’t think dad is wrong for going but it led us into a talk about their relationship.

Dad is a good guy. He works and mom does not. Mom is still nursing and does all the night wake ups because dad works. Mom has some other stuff that makes live a bit hard – insomnia, pain issues, mental health things. She deals and deals fine but would probably deal better with a full night of sleep. She can’t night wean while doing all the wake ups – I get that. I’ve been there. But that’s their arrangement.

This led Lesley and I to a larger conversation: Why is it so hard to have a relationship be fair. We both agreed, in this moment, that ours is fairly equal. While we have our moms of indignation we both feel that the other does their fair share. We have our bed moments – moments where we keep score – but overall, in the light of day when things are easier, we feel very equal.

Lesley thinks that some of this has to do with expectations. We often hear one side of the story that makes the relationship seem unbalanced and she thinks often that side is swayed because that person had expectations their partner does not live up to. I think in a way this is true but we also observe it in relationships – both hetero and homo couples.

I’m not sure what my point is here except to say that this is interesting. We don’t often hang out with other couples and often an uncomfortable power balance plays into that decision. We talked about the couples we have been historically closest to – most of them had a good relationship dynamic and were easy to be around (even if some cases their relationship was crappy it wasn’t about power).

Lesley and I are in a mom facebook group that is all complaining about husbands/boyfriends and talking about blow jobs. It blows my mind the stuff I see there – I can’t not imagine being in a relationship with someone who treats me like that (if you are in a mom facebook group, especially with straight women, you likely know exactly what I am talking about). I don’t get it yet I watch my friends in relationships that are much better but still have weird dynamics.

I have no conclusion so I am just going to stop typing now.

I should get some sort of literary award for this shitshow of a post.


Posted on July 8, 2016, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. I think it’s a combination of people not knowing how to ask for help, and being critical of how the other person does stuff when they do help. Like for me, the way Jen cleans off the dishes and loads the dishwasher is appalling, but I’ve learned the hard way to not complain or she never does it and I’m stuck with it all the time.

    • Word. I think maybe that’s where we are doing well. We went to couples counseling to learn how to communicate our needs. 😉

      • Communicating your needs is KEY! I need way more nights out with friends than Callie does, but I am also WAY more social than she is. She needs more nights in with super cuddle sessions. I’m not crazy about that, be we have found a balance where once a month I do my thing with my friends and a day where we ship the kids off with friends and family and do her “lay in bed and cuddle and have deep conversions about things that matter to me” thing…everyone wins!

  2. andthepursuitoffeminism

    I’ve definitely been thinking about this a lot lately! I think sometimes the “emotional labor” of a relationship isn’t acknowledged, or appreciated, or discussed in hetero relationships…and from what I’ve seen, if a guy does any of the work (not even an equal share) he gets congratulated because men are seen as being stoic/aren’t expected to put that effort in. Interesting post!

  3. I think that the more balanced a person’s romantic relationship is, the more likely they are to have reasonably effective communication skills and that it’s probably the communication skills. I know I appreciate being with friends with good communication skills who will advocate for themselves more than I appreciate being with people who won’t voice an opinion or are just one big opinion.

  4. I have chronic pain and an almost toddler who doesn’t sleep – and if Di went away for a fun weekend… well, she just wouldn’t. Neither of us would find that fair, and fairness is important to us. I often find other people’s relationships baffling, especially hetero ones; I know everyone has a different idea of what makes a good relationship, but sometimes I really wonder at how relationships can function without fairness.

  5. Compromise of sacrifices.

    That’s our key. Sometimes, there isn’t a middle. We’re careful to make sure we’re both heard and that the balance of sacrifice stays pretty equal. She watches three hours of baseball and I watch Zoolander 2. Equal sacrifice. 😉

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