Many people report wanting a better relationship with their partner. However, often times people are quick to point out changes their partner needs to make, instead of recognizing the changes that they can make to improve the marriage. Focusing on what changes you think your partner makes does nothing to improve the marriage, and often sets up a competition between partners.
Sometimes spouses become more like opponents and life starts to look like a competition where someone has to keep score. In these relationships, comments are made such as “You went out with your friends last weekend. This weekend, it is my turn.” Comments about money may sound like, “You got to get a new flat screen so I’m getting a new laptop.” When comments such as these are made, it sounds more like competitors working to take the most, rather than focusing on giving to the marriage.
Marriages that become competitive begin down a slippery slope. When attitudes of “I’m not getting enough from this marriage” develop, often blame is placed on the other person for “taking too much.” This can lead to each partner trying to take as much as they can. They take as much free time for themselves as they can, spend money on themselves, and make decisions on their own with an “every man for himself” attitude.
If you want to improve your marriage, take time to consider what you can do to make things better. Start with just one thing that you could do today to help your marriage. It might involve something small, like cooking dinner. Perhaps it means offering to do the dishes so your partner can relax. Buy a small gift as a surprise for your partner. Or maybe it means giving up watching your television show to spend some time with your partner. Focus on one thing you can give and see what happens. Sometimes a giving attitude can be just as contagious as the taking attitude.
If you and your partner are unable to break the cycle of taking, consider seeking therapy. This can help you re-focus on what you can give to the marriage. It can also help you develop ways to be supportive of one another, instead of in competition against each other.