Marriage is not fair

Sunday, I watched Paul over and over be nicer to me than I deserved. Where I was grumpy, he handed me hot food. Where I was stressed, well, he handed me more food. Dude knows my language. No, he did more than that. He also baked a pie. 

Point is that marriage is totally like that sometimes. Unfair. Beautifully unfair. Stupidly unfair. It’s unfair and yet two lovebirds (turned ordinary people) keep putting on their pants one leg at a time and pouring cups of coffee and, later in the day—at least noon—, glasses of wine for each other. 

It’s selective forgetfulness really. At least that’s what I’ve come to discover.  The best way to be a terribly unhappy couple is to tally up the wrongs.  Honestly, where are you going to contain all of them when there’s so damn many? I lost track years ago. 

I mean. Yeah. If my dream boat husband does something real stupid or hurtful (rare), I’m gonna check him on it and I’m gonna mean it. I go to him. I cry. I say what I need to say and then I make it super clear the cut that was made.  

But most of the other time, I’m pretty much on total roll mode. Meaning, I let a lot roll right off my back. I think about what I’m doing. That’s my focus. And then I look to the side and see the good from Paul and I’m like, “Hey, that’s awesome. I like that! Thanks!” 

What I want of personal peace and success and fulfillment, I make it happen. And the more and more I lean on myself for those things (lifting up faith for the gaps), the happier I am in marriage.  Everything from Paul is bonus. It’s not the meat of the thing. It’s the icing. It’s the sprinkles. It’s the candles lit for wishing on. This thinking would have been foreign to a younger version of myself.  

What a dichotomy this is! That the purpose of our efforts together is largely aimed at a hope for our independent selves. I’m not forgetting that part of marriage where two become one. Yes, we build up a culture and life together. Yes, we raise kids together.  Yes, we can sometimes speak without talking and we can talk without finishing sentences. And how great to see that coming together and building up of something so complex! But most of the time we are too little, too human, too real, for all that spiritually magic stuff.  And for those times, the largest reason why I’m here and I stick around is because I believe that by doing so, there is a way, with me here both as blessing and thorn, for Paul to become his best self. 

And when there are times when I feel like I’m in the arena for my marriage, gloves on and punching invisible threats (pride, anger, jealousy, bitterness, loss, and on and on), it’s in the name of my husband, not us. Not me. 

And this is why I could give a flying turd about things being fair.  The very idea of fair in marriage is laughable. It’s not fair for someone to put up with my hairpins strewn like seeds and toothpaste that forgets to drain and still say yes to me.  But he does. Hopefully, by the time all our hormones have run out, I’ve learned how to close all those drawers. 

No, marriage is not fair. Marriage is ridiculous. It’s a radical love dressed up as consistent kindnesses trickling out, no questions asked. Sometimes our spouses are on fire and teeth in the game and pawing at us and begging for more time because they are crazy in love (the best, right?). But those other seasons of marriage? Well, there’s the ordinary time. The lull. The numb. The hurt. The distant. Ugh. These things happen. Maybe a couple days. Maybe a stretch of weeks. 

And when we are there in those lesser seasons, we must sometimes be radically unfair. Where there is not enough affection from him, we give him more of what he needs for the touch.  Where there is not enough work on his part, we give him all our 100%.  Where there is no spark in his eyes, we gather up all the sticks and set the freaking house on fire. 

We work double-time. We go double-step. We keep going even after the finish line. And we do it because what we do was in their name in the first place, so to circle back and pick them up is exactly our sort of thing. 

Because from what I know, no, marriage is not always fair. I've loved harder than he did at times. And I've received that kind of fighting, fierce love too. It's unfair. But it is painfully beautiful. Because beyond worth, there's still a rope. 

Marriage may not always be fair, but that doesn’t stop it from being incredibly, incredibly good.