Like the old expression, “Love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage“, there isn’t much of that anymore.
Yes, unfortunately, I’ve heard this all before.
In the throes of a disintegrating marriage, I turned to reading books many of which made the same recommendations.
The prescribed panacea was that if a man did more housework or spent less time with his mates, marital bliss awaits.
In truth I did step up and I fervently believe that men should (see Having It All). But there’s no guarantee of reciprocation. Not that reciprocation was my motivation.
Unfortunately, the opposite argument is of course is that the woman should do more. As set out by Laura Doyle in her book the Surrendered Wife where women need to step up so the man can step down. Again there’s the implicit guarantee of reciprocation.
These viewpoints seem to treat marriage as some sort of reality show (Wife Swap perhaps?). Marriage is seen as a game where you amass points for doing the right thing, are penalised for doing the wrong thing and receive or forgo prizes. Marriage in this light seen as territorial and transactional with winners and losers.
My real problem with all of this is that both viewpoints are both motivated by the guarantee or expectation of reciprocation. If I do this, I get that and if you do this, you get that.
What that creates is a relationship based on mutual selfishness. Both partners keep score and amass points and expect to be rewarded. The problems occur over keeping track of the points, rewards, penalties and prizes. From my personal experience after arguing over that there’s little energy left for vacuuming or sex.
Nor does it foster much love. Nor create an environment that fosters compassion and generosity.
So what’s left from this? My dull insight is this. Perhaps we could try an unselfish love for oneself and for others for a change? Perhaps we could create an environment of compassion and generosity?