In our egalitarian society, we often expect and require total fairness within our romantic relationships. This may include equal division of household chores, financial contribution and much more. Since the emancipation of women the expectation has become that we will both have the same input in all areas of the relationship. Sometimes couples who come to see me for counselling reveal their dogmatic requirement for fairness in all that they do and often one partner had become unhappy with the perceived unfairness of the situation.
However, research reveals that happy couples are not too hung up on fairness and the equal division of all their responsibilities. You see, when couples report that they are happy, they seem to understand inherently the strengths or weakness of the other and these can then be accommodated. Some people may be more motivated to be the creative person in the relationship, while the other might be a more pragmatic partner. Both can draw on their areas of expertise within the relationship without pressuring the other to contribute equally, which can create harmonious relating. Much like in an orchestra, where each member is playing a different instrument with different pieces of music and yet the result can be a beautiful artwork.
What may then happen when couples are living in this way is that there is no longer a need to keep score. There is no need to begin to live from a place of comparison with your partner, and the space to support the other in their strengths becomes more rewarding. Couples who say they are happy appreciate the strengths of their partner and encourage those strengths while feeling as uplifted by the other partner’s encouragement. It is easier to release the expectation that your partner will be good at the same things that you are and permission for your partner to be different can be vital to a happy relationship.
It is important to note that harmonious couples don’t then simply have all their issues down pat and live in a love bubble constantly. These couples still need to negotiate and struggle somewhat with the relationship, but there tends to be more acceptance of the conflict and a willingness to work these times. Couples who have a fixed mindset tend to expect good things to happen automatically, white those with a growth mindset have more of an attitude of belief in the growth of the couple. Take a moment to look within and evaluate what kind of mindset you might be coming from within the couple. This may change your perspective and ultimately create a more flexible relationship in the long run.