One of the most common arguments in any relationship is always centred around the notion of FAIR SHARES: Some people come to the partnership believing that, as long as they do their ‘half’, their ‘bit’ or their ‘fair share’ all will be well. However, our perception of a genuine ‘half’ can be someone else’s idea of 10 per cent – a discrepancy which causes the most disagreement in thr home. There is no such thing as a successful long-term relationship where each partner gives only a personal interpretation of their half. The inevitable truth is that, after a while, the differing perceptions of sharing will result in cries of “Selfish!” or “Unfair!”
What is genuinely fair is usually decided between both parties in advance of living together, or soon after moving in with each other. True halves have to be negotiated to become the couple’s reality. Better to come to the union expecting to give 100 percent and find that much less is taken from you, than prepare to give 50 per cent, only to have it regarded as insufficient! If you know that your partner is contributing more than their perceived ‘fair share’, it’s easier for you to do the same, too. But often, not every contribution can be measured.
Many people, particularly older ones who have been married for a while, tend to take their partners for granted. They also believe there is nothing new for them to learn about life or love. But if we have not been taught how to communicate and resolve problems, it is always useful to learn. Most parents are not able to teach their children the skills for handling difficult times or getting on with others satisfactorily, yet those skills are essential for keeping romance from dying in relationships, especially on days when the children are upset, money is tight as the debts pile up, and the job is boring or demoralising. In these times of difficulty, fair shares become blurred, as they do not always conform to expectations.
For example, one partner can ask the other to help with housework, and if they do not like to do it that task will be done in a grudging way, resentfully, without too much enjoyment. However, a fairer approach could be identifying the strengths on both sides and everyone choosing according to their skills. For example, my ex and I agreed that he would attend to structural things in the home, and look after the garden (I didn’t like gardening!) and I preferred to care for inside the home, while we share the children’s care, as required, and appropriate. It worked very well for over 25 years!
Developing and reviewing our coping skills so that we treat partners fairly, is important for keeping the relationship alive over a long time. Some of the key skills required in these situations include: building self-esteem, understanding and supporting your partner, regular communication, creating ground rules to avoid conflict, a willingness to compromise and keeping the love fire burning. Taking action in your own self-education, while including your partner in the process, will allow you both to benefit from a successful relationship, one where ‘fair shares’ is not just a personal perception, but an actual reality.
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