Working through an emotional debacle between the girls while I make dinner and I hear the whir of Charlie’s tools in the garage… the thought, unfair, hangs in the air.
Waving him off to work while I balance three math workbooks and think through the ten emails I’ve yet to send to the school. I nearly yell, “love you! have a safe ride! this isn’t fair, FYI!”
Noele and Eliza, our two daughters, are now 6 and 8. For the past 6 years they’ve been harmonious in play, best friends, and easy side kicks to each others every adventure. But lately, something has shifted. New needs spring up with maturity and growth that cause hardship, diversion, and… squabbles. I find myself often reminding my youngest that “there is no fair in relationships.” It’s not a thing.
As the words come out of my mouth I realize. . . there is no fair in relationships, it’s not a thing.
Laying on the couch reading my book after yoga and a bath, listening to Charlie do the dishes. The weight of the unfair that this situation is feels immense and suffocating.
Walking out the door to meet a friend for coffee after a yoga class, knowing that bedtime will likely be rough. He hugs me goodbye and I feel myself stiffen with the guilt that; this isn’t fair.
And I try to undo it. Mission: Find Fair commences in my heart. To balance scales and measure emotional labor vs. hard labor. Hours away vs. hours at home. Friends and happy hours vs. projects and books read. Birth and breastfeeding vs. Endless emotional support of a wife in the midst. The work I know is ahead vs. the space and time I know is coming. And it happens again. . . There Is No Fair.
The scales cannot be balanced in marriage. This summer we will celebrate 10 years of marriage, and we’re only a blink into what is to come. Our marriage has gone through immense shifts, changes, bumps, and life upheavals. And through all of it? It hasn’t been fair. There are times where I have carried us. Through huge storms and low pay. Through tight food budgets, anxiety and fear, and sobbing children. And there are times where it’s been loaded onto Charlie’s back again and again. Leaving opportunities in favor of time together, staying up late putting all my pieces back together as I unravel under the constant string pulling of motherhood, adulthood, and growth. The confessions, heartache, and back and forth have not been even. They’ve been him turning and catching me and me turning to catch him in what fees like, often, one unending game of Trust Fall.
There is no Fair in marriage because we aren’t keeping score and it’s the best thing we’ve done. Tit for Tat isn’t in our emotional lexicon. It’s My Turn isn’t the conversation. It comes back to, again and again, Strive to Out Serve, our marriage mantra (read about it here, it’s not at weird as it sounds). That when two healthy people who are pursuing emotional health are mutually supporting each other. . . it won’t be fair, but it’ll be strong.
So in this season where the guilt can feel crushing as I pursue work outside the home for the first time. . . I’m leaning hard on these earned truths I know. I’m embracing them as I feel Unfair knowing he’s parenting more than he ever has in the past 9 years. I’m pushing deep on this truth as I feel that my load is too heavy. And instead of keeping score, marking down that I carried us X amount of time vs. his Y amount. . . I’m remembering. In relationships, fair isn’t a thing. But support, honesty, and depth of love are. And on those, I know we’re dealt evenly.