When we’re little kids it’s drilled into our heads, we hear it every day from our parents, teachers and other various adults then, we in turn, pick it up and start saying it to our peers.
Have any idea what phrase I’m talking about?
“Playing fair” works great when your in kindergarten at recess or when your on your 2nd grade soccer team. It works during school projects and Monopoly games. But in marriage? Not so much. In fact, “playing fair” is a quick way to send your marriage to the dump.
If “fair” was a city bus driver, he or she would drive a bus that had the slogan “We give you what you deserve!” vibrantly painted on each side in big huge letters. All caps as if you’re being shouted at. Because that’s the significance, the message, behind “fair.” It’s good for good; bad for bad. (Not sure if I’d be willing to ride that bus, by the way..)
If you recall my last blog post, I told you all exactly where we would be if God played the “fair” game. If God said, “well, to be fair, I’m going to give them what they deserve” we’d all be heading to Hell when we die. Luckily for us God loves us, with a love that we DO NOT DESERVE. A love that we have not “earned.” A love that we are not “entitled” to. It’s a love that He shares with us, so deep that He saves us, because He wants to. Not because we remembered to pray every night. Not because we brought the most people to church with us on Sunday. But because He truly loves us in such a strong way that we can’t even comprehend it.
The problem with people trying to have these fair marriages is that they’re following the “good for good; bad for bad” rule. They want to treat their spouse with respect. They desire to be kind and loving. However, the fine print states that that only applies when their spouse is on their best behavior. It’s kind of like saying “I’ll be nice to you and treat you right, until you do something that upsets me, then it’s game on!”
Fair will work out great in your marriage if you and your spouse are both perfect people. People who never yell, never disagree or argue, never throw remotes…
But if you’re like me, an IMPERFECT person. Fair is probably not the way to go with your marriage.
Being on this topic reminds me of an experience I had a few months ago. My fiance and I were in town checking our mail one night when one of my fiances acquaintances came walking up to the truck, clearly feeling a little buzzy.
“Hey man, what’s up?” Dustin inquired, being friendly.
“Not much man! Doin’ great! I’m pi***d at Cassidy* right now so I’m going out to get f***in’ wasted! She’s bein’ a MF’ing b****! F*** her, man!”
After the guy walked away I looked at Dustin and said “No matter how mad I make you, please don’t ever do that to me.”
This guy (notice I don’t even refer to someone who behaves that way as a man…) was trying to give the mother of his child what was “fair.” How do you think that went over when he came home? I’m betting not so pleasantly.
It’s like a sick domino effect. “You yelled at me so now you deserve to be yelled at and now you’re yelling at me more so I’m going to yell louder and now your getting even louder so I’m just going to give you dirty looks and roll my eyes and now you’re walking away and that’s making me mad to so I’m just going to start yelling again.” See how quickly that escalated? Now I see why arguments seem to last forever.
You see, we’re all going to mess up at some point in our relationships. In fact, we’re going to mess up often. We may even mess up DAILY for the first year or so of it. Knowing that, how many of you want a spouse who is going to try to “get even” every time you mess up? No one?
On the other hand, how many of you want a spouse who is going to meet your mistakes, failures and remote-throwing rampages with FORGIVENESS and LOVE. (Well there’s a novel idea!) Nearly everyone, right?
Many relationships and marriages fall because the couple lives by the principle of fairness. When one person messes up big time, their other half “punishes” them by doing something that will make their spouse feel just as hurt as they do. This can only happen so many times before you both get tired of it and call it quits.
I’ve even heard of people having “revenge sex.” Also know as, risking your own personal health and morals to get back at someone who hurt you. Also known as, disgusting and twisted.
It just shows how far we are willing to go to give people what we believe they deserve, to get revenge on those we love because they hurt us.
It’s an awful situation. One that is such a major marriage-killer, yet is so often just overlooked. That makes me really sad and kind of angry because it’s something that is so very fixable. Families could stay together, relationships could thrive, divorce rates could plummet, if only people would stop operating on fairness 24/7.
Writing this makes me want to climb to the top of the tallest building in the most populated city and scream “Life isn’t always fair, people!! Get off that concept!!”
Whenever your spouse breaks down, when they mess up, when they make that mistake that makes you want to say “that’s it, you have crossed the line!” try meeting them with compassion instead. Try saying, “Okay, that was kind of mean, but I still love you and I want to fix this problem.” Try staying calm. Try to not yell and scream. Try to not throw remote controls or cell phones. (Guilty…)
When your spouse does you wrong, try to rise above the situation. Be the bigger person (there’s another elementary principle for you, although I like that one a lot more). Let your love be an example to them and encourage them to be a better person.
Instead of responding to them with what they “deserve,” respond to them with what they “need.” You’re relationship will grow stronger and more loving, rather than deteriorate.
Even better than all of that? By meeting someone who hurts you with forgiveness and compassion your showing an example of God’s love and grace to the world. You’re being a light in dark situations.Ephesians 4:32 “Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”