A lot of us, Bankers especially (aka a person with a love of knowledge and justice, according to the CVI), want things to be fair. Equality, justice, fairness, these are all important concepts and virtues that we need in our lives and society. But in a relationship? It’s a little more nuanced. The concept of ‘fair’ doesn’t work on its own here, and can actually be damaging to a relationship if you hold on too hard.
Say, for example, your spouse gets an opportunity to do something exciting, but it costs a certain amount of money. When you lovingly agree for them to spend the money, should you then say, “Well now I get to spend the same amount of money on me!”?
That doesn’t really track.
It might not work for your budget, first of all. But secondly, and perhaps more importantly, it belies the heart of the issue: are you only agreeing to this opportunity for them because you want it to benefit you? That’s not what supportive commitment is about. It can build a lot of resentment over time, and takes away from what the focus should be within a relationship: loving and serving each other. The Gottmans have found in their decades of relational research that a relationship based on “quid pro quo” is an ailing relationship!
There will come a time when you’ll have the opportunity; do you want your spouse thinking about what they get in return? Or would you rather they unabashedly celebrate with you and encourage you forward, no strings attached?