Note: I came upon this draft post that I wrote back in March. Not sure what prompted it, but I figured I would publish it. Why the heck not, right?
When you love someone and you commit to live your life with them, you accept that things will not always be equal. It’s in the vows, right? “For better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health…” But accepting the possibility that one day your spouse might get sick or lose their leg or lose their job is easier than the reality of it. The reality can be vastly different than the “what if?”
When I was young, I felt like absolute equality is what I needed in a relationship. 50/50. Everything split down the middle. Now that I am a little older, and have been through varying levels of shit in my life, my little fantasy of an equal partnership where “I wash the dishes and my husband drys them” seems nice, but unrealistic given my experiences.
I used to feel guilt ridden over any situation where I felt like I was taking more from the pot than I was putting in. Then came all of my health issues, and my philosophical ideas about an equal partnership were debunked. We weren’t evenly sharing anything. L had to take over when it came to household responsibilities, emotional, and financial support.
As a result, I sat in this pathetic world of self-loathing and low self-esteem. The lowest self-esteem I have ever had in my life. I devalued myself for not being an equal partner. I took the blame for every negative in our lives. I blamed myself for all of our financial problems, because I was earning a pittance. L had problems at work. I tried to be there for him as much as possible, but I couldn’t truly be there the way I used to. My voice, my opinion, my mind, all became muted and weak. I still struggle with the self-loathing from time to time, but I have worked too hard to ever go back to the worst of it.
Trudging through infertility has certainly NOT been helpful in this process. There is no way to achieve a perfect relationship balance with infertility. Maybe one partner has an issue or some issues that are hindering a pregnancy. It’s not anyone’s “fault”. No one is to “blame”. But speaking from the experience of someone who is likely the reason we can’t get pregnant, it’s very hard not to feel responsible or like you aren’t pulling your weight. In another sense, as you progress through fertility treatments, the woman takes on most of the physical burden with invasive testing, pumping their bodies full of drugs, surgeries, and eventually (hopefully) pregnancy. There is no equality there, either.
We are still learning to cope, and recovering from those really dark days. But, it has brought us closer together. As cliche and she’s-desperate-to-make-a-bad-situation-seem-good as that sounds, it’s true. We have become pretty damn close through all of this.
I guess what I am trying to say is that sometimes relationships aren’t equal (for any number of reasons), and I am learning that that is okay. Sometimes we fall down, and our spouse is there to pick up the slack. Or vice versa. I talk about what L has done for me A LOT of the time, but I gotta give myself some credit, too. There have been numerous times over the past decade where I have lifted L up and carried the load of our relationship.
What do you think about the concept of “equality” in a relationship or marriage? The more that I think about it, it can mean a lot of different things.