A little while ago, one Seth Adam Smith wrote a piece that became a meme entitled “Marriage Isn’t For You.”

This was passed around among people I know, approvingly, though started to get some pushback. Kyle Cupp said (among other things):

[T]his advice is a recipe for abuse because it’s so easy to turn around: You shouldn’t be concerned with your own happiness, dear, but with mine. It’s not selfish to care about your own happiness. And, yes, selfishness isn’t good for marriage, but then neither is self-neglect. Smith is, unwittingly I’m sure, advising a disposition of self-neglect. That’s hugely problematic.

I get what Cupp and other detractors are saying, but I look at it another way. Similar to something I was told along the way: You should be responsible for 75% of the work in a relationship. Why? Not so that you can take on the lion’s share. Rather, because there are a lot of things that your partner is doing that you don’t realize, and if you think you’re going about 75% of the work in a relationship, you’re probably doing about half.

Smith’s advice is terrible for some people. For instance, if you have a martyr complex, you shouldn’t think about the marriage as being for the other person. Really, the same is true if you find yourself taken advantage on a regular basis, this advice isn’t for you. Rather, this is good advice for most people who sometimes lose sight of the grant scheme of things and are asking what they get out of a particular arrangement. That’s a recipe for thinking that you’re doing 50% when you’re actually only doing about 30% or so.


Category: Coffeehouse

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7 Responses to 75% and Marriage Isn’t For You

  1. Kirk says:

    I read somewhere that it takes commitment to the marriage itself, and not to the other people involved, that makes it work. But what do I know….

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