All you need to do to ruin your marriage is play fair.
I have three kids. – I know this post is supposed to be about marriage, just hang with me. If you also have kids then you understand the struggle of balancing every gift, treat, and Instagram photo to make sure each kid is getting their share of stuff. I must be doing a terrible job. If I had a dollar every time I heard “Not fair!” from one of my kids I would have enough money to build a legitimate cone of silence to use as needed.
I know it is not just my kids. I grew up hearing “Play fair!” when heading out the door to play ball with neighborhood kids. Growing up, I played organized sports where the concept of “fairness” was front and center. I believe most folks in America grow up like this.
Fairness is great. It has its place, but marriage isn’t it.
I know I sound like I am contradicting myself. Let me be clear. Fairness is a wonderfully practical and often complicated concept. We should seek fairness in this world. But when it comes to your partner, it needs to be tossed out the window.
Being fair means returning what has been given. For example, it would be fair to return shouting with shouting, unkind words with unkind words, or flowers with flowers. In the Old Testament of the Bible, fairness is eye for an eye. That’s fair, but I don’t recommend it in a marriage (or any relationship for that matter). Thankfully, there’s something better. In the New Testament we find Jesus discussing a new way to live that isn’t so fair. It’s turning the other cheek, loving your enemies, praying for those who persecute you, etc.
Not playing fair means giving back better than whatyou are given.
I get it. I’m married. It’s hard to do. In life, in marriage, at work, with friends, or with kids. When your spouse is being grumpy or unpleasant it is natural to want to return the un-pleasantries. But, stop and think about the cycle you’re helping facilitate. They’re grumpy, you’re grumpy back, they’re grumpier back, you’re grumpiest back, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc… It’s madness!
Let’s stop the madness. Let’s not play fair. Trust me, our marriages will be better because of it.