There is always and I mean always, a pay off for us in everything we do. When we do the things we know we shouldn’t, but do them anyway. And when we do things we should. If there was no pay off, we wouldn’t do them. If we consume too much, the pay off is the pleasure of tasting whatever we are eating or drinking. When we manipulate other people, the pay off is getting what we want. When we succumb to the manipulations of others? Now, that’s the tricky one. Why would we do that? Especially if we know we’re letting them work us? But there is a pay off. Hidden deep down, we get something out of it. Maybe, it’s just the feeling of having someone sitting next to us. We trade that feeling for being in a good, honest, loving relationship with whoever it might be, friend, child, spouse, or mother.
We count the cost versus the pay off and we choose. Every time. Every time.
When I was previously married, I knew that I allowed myself to speak harshly to my husband. I was frustrated, it was the millionth time we’d discussed the same issue, and I had little belief anything would ever change. In the moment, I traded the feeling of release for what I knew I should be doing, which was showing restraint for his benefit. Because to me, the pay off was better. I got to vent. I rationalized that he never seemed to mind that much and moved on. What I didn’t know was that he was storing those experiences and letting them fester and build up. One day, he had it. He turned a corner and that was that for him emotionally speaking. We both committed very great harm to the relationship because we left out a crucial step.
We didn’t trust each other enough to have an exchange that highlighted important issues that needed to be discussed in a very intentional way. Instead, we acted out our frustrations.
Our brains said, “If I act this certain way they should KNOW how frustrated I am and wise up and change what they are doing!”
But this approach assumes a lot and it also puts everything on the other person to make the change. Wrong and wrong. It doesn’t work. It won’t work. Ever. It will only lead to miscommunication, disrespect, and discontentment.
Little children act out because they don’t have the words or the intellect to clearly speak their hearts and minds. But it’s got no business in adult relationships. That’s what growing up means…
I’m not always perfect, I have passion, and sometimes slam something down or stomp away frustrated. But the idea is that I should trust my partner and kids and friends enough to speak in a constructive, sometimes confrontational way so the relationship moves into a healthy place out of a potentially toxic one.
We give ourselves a pass all the time to behave badly. Because its easier maintaining the status quo and it has a better initial pay off.
But I’m vowing not to be this way in my new marriage to My Harry.
Yesterday we had a Super Bowl Party. The dismal game was very disappointing, but it was my first time hosting such a party and the first time many people who were attending had ever seen my home. It gave me the motivation to spruce things up a bit. So in preparation, Harry and I went to town. He pitched in hanging curtain rods, fixing drawers, running on errands, and being a willing partner. I said to him how nice it was to have someone jumping around getting things done along side me instead of the sighs, rude comments, and weak effort that I often get when I try to commandeer my children into doing anything other than the easiest tasks. And He said, “Its my goal to have you never tell me what to do…”
I got it. And I thought yes, this is the way things should be. The guy caring as much as the girl and the two attacking things together, instead of the woman getting so frustrated that she starts barking orders to everyone including her own husband.
It made me appreciate him all the more. I peeked into the family room and caught of glimpse of him with his drill and I ran over to him and kissed and hugged him like he’d just gotten home from a long trip. He lifted me up and I wrapped my legs around his waist and I said, “This is what happens when I see a guy do chores willingly.” It was meant to be funny but now that I think about it, it was so true.
During the party I knew he’d be glued to his seat watching the game. So I embraced being the host. Kept the food going, the trash picked up, the kids happy, and tried to catch pieces of the game here and there. It struck me how this is the way most couples are. The guy helps with the big stuff beforehand and the girl runs around the most during the event. It’s never been that way for me. My ex did most of the things that were expected of the woman and never really cared about the game. I was always in competition, which left me feeling like I wasn’t doing enough.
This time, while I was in the kitchen, my husband poked his head from around a doorway leading to the part of the house where no one was sitting, pulled me into the dining room and told me how great I was being a host, and how proud he was of me and kissed me. WOW.
Last night after a great party with lots of food, laughing, even dancing (Thank you Bruno Mars) I tucked him in bed and told him. “I gave myself a pass with my ex on many things. And I just don’t want to be that way with you. Because this is a better pay off. I’d much rather get and give a hug, a kiss, and affirmation from an equal partner than release my frustration in an act of power. This is positive, and its on the right track so let’s stay right here. I don’t want to mess this up.”
Pay off works both ways. When you do good healthy things for others you get an awesome pay off. It’s just a matter of shifting focus from your needs to the people who matter in your life. And that shift makes all the difference.