When You’re Spouse Isn’t Being Fair

Reciprocity is important in a relationship. I remember that many people told me before getting married, “Kiko, you have to make sure that you and Ces reciprocate each others efforts.” But what happens when you’re spouse isn’t being fair? What if you’ve been serving non-stop, and your spouse just keeps taking without giving?

unfair spouse

One time when I was in school for ministry, I experienced extreme exhaustion from all the classes, traveling, studying and interaction meetings that I had gone through in a span of a few days. Not to mention I was maintaining a day job and a small business at that time as well to sustain me and my family. So much had just happened in a matter of days, and I was dead beat.

So imagine, here I was. I’m practically winded out and running on recycled steam in our small studio-type condo, barely making it to the kitchen table for a very highly anticipated dinner. My eyes are barely open, and I’m deaf from all the metro traffic, but the next words Ces say rang like a siren:

“Can you wash the dishes tonight?”

And I just imploded on the inside. But, knowing the consequences of even making a comment and the magnitude of pain I would experience had I refused, I just said “Ok sure.”

So I’m washing the dishes, and a wave of disgruntled thoughts flood my mind. I won’t even go to the details. Generally, what I had in mind could be boiled down to one statement- it’s not fair.

Uh-oh. Of course, I felt the entitlement. Who didn’t deserve to skip house chores after working and studying so hard? This wasn’t fair, I deserve a break.

And then a sweet and gentle revelation came to me saying, “Is it really not fair? For all you know you’re wife spent the whole day watching your daughter, cleaning up after her, doing laundry, going out to the grocery, travelling 45 mins out to meet you up at school.”

Then I realized it was true that someone was being unfair, but it wasn’t Ces. It was me. You see, the number one conflict of reciprocity is the sense of entitlement. The reason why spouses aren’t reciprocating each other’s efforts is not because someone isn’t performing, but someone is feeling entitled.

It’s so easy for us to feel that we have the right to choose between our hustles. What’s the difference between running a treadmill and running an errand for your boss? What’s the difference between watching your favorite game on TV, and watching the kids? What’s the difference between going to leadership school and washing dishes?

Remember there was also Someone who served whole-heartedly for you even if you didn’t reciprocate His efforts. Someone who endured shame, torture, humiliation, pain and even a death He did not deserve just for you. That man was Jesus.

“But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

Reciprocity comes not out of demanding fair performances from both sides, but a willingness to serve and an acknowledgment of what was already done for you.
Now it’s time to go wash the dishes.

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