Why Tit for Tat Will Ruin You

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By Ariel Minter

Recently, stress has ruled my life. In the month of October, my husband and I moved across town to our very first home (no more sharing walls or smelling all of our neighbors dinners on a regular basis!), got a puppy Boxer, and are planning to host a large party within the next week. Amongst working a 38+ hour week, and my husband working 45+ hours a week, our relationship was the first to get set on the back burner. 

I’ve realized that I have a tendency to get focused on “fairness”. Tit for tat. In stressful times, I am constantly adding and subtracting what I have done and measure it against my husband. Thank the LORD we don’t have children yet, because I tell ya, it is ROUGH. Since my husband works a lot of hours and has an extremely labor intensive job, I assume more of the house duties (and honestly, I love being able to make meals for him, keep the house clean, etc).

Now enter a puppy. We have my 6 year old yorkie, Dexter, who is the picture of perfection. He is calm, house trained, loves to cuddle, and listens to “no” the first time. Preston and I did a TON of research before we got Bruce the Boxer. We knew exactly what we were getting into: a breed of dog that tests your patience, loves to dig, and without enough exercise will slowly destroy your home (now, this is with many puppies, regardless of breeds, and I want to also add that Boxers are some of the most loyal and lovable breeds). 

So here we are, boxes & Boxers, puppy poos and paintings waiting to be placed. I have a whole new level of respect for parenting now, and this experience has solidified that we will wait several years before kids so I can be a stay at home mother. But in the meantime, we are juggling it all. And it has heavily impacted our relationship.

First, it was the snippet conversations. You know, those tough one-liners that aren’t mean enough to start a fight but just enough to be hurtful. Then it was the micro-arguments without resolution (you have a mini argument and then one of you leaves the room and then you don’t talk about it again…), and then it was the big bang. The craziest thing about this, was the fact that we both were aware of it happening. Yet we were not proactive in getting to a solution before the meanness/tit-for-tat started. 

My Focus on Fairness was single-handedly destroying our relationship. Of course, it takes two to tango, but I was adding every single detail and it JUST WASN’T FAIR. In the midst of this, I became the Queen of Nagging. I got so great at it, that my nags were more like passive compliments so they were confusing and hurtful. Oh good grief, I feel so ugly admitting this. But it was so true. And it created a dynamic between us that was rotting our months of hard-earned good communication. And then it was THE BIG BANG Mother of all fights.  

After “the big bang” I finally lost it. I started crying over my favorite house plant that I left outside in the cold overnight, and that was when Preston just walked up to me and held me as I cried. Then we started laughing uncontrollably. 

Do you find yourself counting favors? Do you wait for your one-liner of one-upping the person closest to you? Does it make you feel “good” in the moment, even though a few minutes later you feel icky?

I have to be committed to not Focusing on Fairness. If you are continually counting chores, favors, love making or lack thereof, you will always be disappointed. Nagging, passivity, and counting favors only lands you in the dog house. 

If you are anything like me in this area of life, I have a challenge for you (and myself). Today, when I catch myself adding and subtracting, I stop. I remind myself of all the things I am grateful for (and in many ways, I don’t necessarily deserve). And then, like a crazy dog lady, I whisper under my breathe “thank you”. Now, you don’t have to actually verbalize it, but it is something I make myself do to REALLY absorb it.

It is NEVER worth going backwards in your relationship, regardless of the stress you have in your life. You have a choice to rise above the counting game.

And I plan on doing that for the next 14 days.

P.S. Thank you, Preston, for being an amazing and patient man with your Fairness Queen. 


3 thoughts on “Why Tit for Tat Will Ruin You

  1. Wow! I can totally relate to this Ariel…thank you :) And I’m glad you have insight into behavior that can cause strife and can also be grateful for the lesson! Thanks also for the refresher on how much effort it takes to raise a puppy as Doug & I are considering getting a german shepherd pup in the near future!!
    ~another crazy dog lady…aka Donna~

    1. Oh, Donna your words are so encouraging! These past few weeks have been such a struggle. Little Bruce is CERTAINLY an armful, Preston and I joke about how it’s a good thing Mother Nature makes them so stinkin’ cute, otherwise their nonsense would be more difficult to take. But, the love he has brought to our home is SO worth it, if you two have the time to dedicate, I am always in favor of more puppies to good people! Much love to you two :)
      Ariel

  2. Thank you! This is just what I needed. I do the same about fairness but what happens if both of us does it? Do you just do you and let him figure it out on his own?

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