Why Focusing On Fairness Won't Get You Far In Your Relationship

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Why Focusing On Fairness Won't Get You Far In Your Relationship

"It's not fair!" How often have you heard this from young or adolescent siblings? I grew up as an only child, so I was never indoctrinated with the concept of fairness. Not growing up with it, I have at times been baffled when couples say the same thing:

  • "It's not fair that I have to work just like you do but I do most of the housework!"
  • "It's not fair that you are in control of when we make love!"
  • "It's not fair that I am the one who always has to get up at night with the kids!"
  • "It's not fair that you get to go on fishing trips with your friends and I always have to stay home with the kids!"
  • "It's not fair that I make all the money and you just spend it any way you want!"

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Right. It's not fair. But so what? Why is fairness so important? Fairness is a concept that the ego-wounded part of us learned as we were growing up. Many people have brought the concept of fairness that they learned as siblings, or later in the workplace, into their marriages.

But take this relationship advice seriously: it doesn't work in marriage! When you make fairness more important than love, then you will be bickering about fairness and lose the love. 

Is it fair that if one person doesn't want to make love, the other person doesn't get to have sex? If we look at this in terms of fairness, we lose the point completely. The real point is that if you love someone, you would not want them to make love if this is not what they want.

And if you love someone, you might make love out of that love, even if you are not feeling sexual. If you look at it in terms of fairness, you will get stuck, but if you look at it in terms of love, you will find your way though.

Is it fair for one person to make the money and the other to spend it? Again, there is no way to resolve this conflict if you look at in terms of fairness. But if you look at it in terms of love, one person might say, "I am better at earning money than my spouse, and he or she does other important things in our marriage."

If you get locked into what is fair in your conflicts, you will not be able to resolve them, because many things often don't seem fair. But if you are willing to let go of worrying about fairness and focus on what is loving to you and to your spouse, you will discover a resolution.

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If you are very attached to fairness, you might want to examine why this is so important to you. What are you telling yourself about a lack of fairness that is upsetting to you? What does a lack of fairness mean to you? Are you telling yourself that you are a jerk if you end up doing more than the other person?

If you are telling yourself something like this, then you will continue to be attached to trying to make everything fair. But what if you were to look at things in terms of what is most kind to you and to your spouse?

What if you balanced things, not in terms of fairness, but in terms of kindness — the balance between the kindness you give to yourself and the kindness you give to your partner? This is something you always have choice over, while you don't have choice over what your partner does or doesn’t do.

Next time you find yourself concerned with fairness, try focusing on kindness to yourself and your partner instead and see what happens.

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Dr. Margaret Paul is the author/co-author of several best-selling books that have been distributed around the world. She is a relationship expert, noted public speaker, workshop leader, educator, chaplain, consultant and artist. 

This article was originally published at Inner Bonding . Reprinted with permission from the author.