The Best of Both Worlds


easybutton

One of my co-workers is a first time grandfather, and recently spoke on how much he’s been enjoying the experience. In his words:

Being a grandfather is great, I get to have all of the fun but I have none of the responsibility.

It was said in humor, but there’s a lot of truth to this.

A grandparent is able to have a small window into the life of their grandchildren. They only see them occasionally, so it’s easier to make those limited moments special. It’s much easier to put in the energy to keep things special when the grandkids are only there for an afternoon, or maybe overnight and then they are back to their parents. And in those limited moments the grandkids are more likely to be on their best behavior.

Parents still have fun moments, but they also have to worry about all the little things. Food, care, homework, discipline, etc. And they need to do this on a consistent basis. Parents have all the little tasks that can be exhausting and thankless. As my co-worker said, grandparents get the fun parts and have the knowledge that they can return the grandkids when things get hard.

Think about that for a moment.

All of the fun with none of the responsibility.

In some ways, isn’t that the holy grail in life? At some level, aren’t we are all looking for the big “Easy” button?

Look around today, and you see all sorts of advertising that preys on this. Everywhere you turn you can find testimonials like:

  • my friend earned (insert some crazy amount of money) last week while working from home
  • This diet pill will let you lose weight fast (likely while still eating whatever you want)
  • Build muscle fast with this product
  • Make someone fall in love with you with these quick easy steps

Even politicians sometimes provide some variation on this, with platforms like “I’m going to decrease taxes, while increasing social services.” Which sounds great, until you take into account the fact that social services cost money, and if you decrease taxes you have less money to pay for things.

All of the fun with none of the responsibility.

We would all love to have a job where you can come and go as you want, have no responsibilities, and get great pay and benefits. We would all love to eat whatever we want without putting on weight. We would all love to look like models or athletes without having to exercise.

But that’s not how things work.

Usually higher pay is reserved for jobs that have higher responsibilities and educational requirements. Cheeseburgers and Doritos are delicious, but if you eat too many of them you WILL gain weight. And looking athletic and fit requires a combination of diet and hours of dedication to exercise.

Sure, there are some cases where people are just lucky. They are in the right place at the right time, or are they hit the genetic jackpot. It does happen sometimes.

Hell, the whole lottery industry is built on the idea that if you make the cost of entry small enough, a LOT of people will take a chance in the hopes of winning the big prize.

But the odds are astronomically stacked against you. In the real world there are no short cuts, no easy buttons and no magic wands.

When something seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Responsibility in Relationships

If you take the premise of “All of the fun with none of the responsibility” and apply it to the world of relationship, you know what you get?

Dating.

Isn’t that really what dating is? It’s the early stages, where everything is new and exciting. You get to go out and just “have fun” – which can mean anything from a walk through the park to dinner and movie to casual sex. There are hopes and expectations on the part of both people, but there is no pressure on anyone to meet them. If you don’t feel like going out you don’t have to. And if things aren’t going well you can just walk away. No commitment, and no responsibility.

When things start to get more serious, two individuals start to become an “us”. Suddenly it’s not just about you any more. Responsibility starts to come in. The needs and wants of your partner have to matter as much as your own. Plus you are usually building towards something, which involves having to make some sacrifices in the short term for long term game.

Now when conflict occurs you can’t just walk away. Commitment forces you to work on issues – hopefully addressing them and sometimes acknowledging them as simply differences between people that you need to accept.

Add managing a household, a budget, maybe a couple of kids; and suddenly, it’s not all about “fun”, and doing what makes you happy.

And this is where the challenge comes in.

Stuck in a Rut

People often talk about wishing that things were “like they used to be”. They want to recapture those feelings of the early days of a relationship.

In long term relationships it’s easy to get so caught up in day to day life that we take each other for granted and lose track of what brought us together in the first place – things like fun, attraction and excitement. In fact, this is probably one of the biggest issues with long term relationships. So I understand wanting to recapture the early days, and think it’s understandable and even admirable.

It’s a positive thing when you realize you are in a rut where you have lost sight of each other as a couple, and you want to work to rebuild that connection and spark. This is a time when some couples start carving out more time for each other, maybe plan some date nights, try to have fun together again and reintroduce an element of romance that has been lost.

Unfortunately, some people take different approaches.

Instead of working to improve the relationship, some people look for easy ways to find that excitement again, so they look for it outside the relationship.  Some have affairs, others propose things like “open relationships” (which to me is simply an affair where you have asked permission first).

These are simply escapes. Ways of trying to escape from the pressures of life into an imaginary world where they can have all the fun without any of the responsibility.

Best of Both Worlds

I don’t think people who have had affairs are necessarily bad people. But they are people who have made bad choices.

Selfish choices.

In my last post, I listed 3 keys for a successful relationship. Love each other, don’t be selfish, and communicate.

I think affairs (or pushing for open relationships) pretty much lead the pack in selfish behaviors.  Often the people who do these things DO actually love their partner/spouse. It’s the selfish part they struggle with (and probably the communication).

So they try to have “the best of both worlds”. The comfort and stability of home and family, while also having the freedom to do what they want.

Instead of putting the effort into improving their relationship they take the easy route and look for the fun and excitement on their own terms. They want the relationship, but they also want to be able to act like they are single.

relationshipandsingle

When you take the easy way out, you are escaping into an imaginary world, and one that is not built to last.

Most affair relationships last less than two years. When they fall apart it’s usually because the imaginary bubble has been burst. They realize that the new person also has flaws. They were exciting and new, but now they are known.

Their escape may have started as all fun, but it started to have responsibility, problems and expectation as well.

Some people are serial adulterers, because they are always searching for the easy way out. The quick fix, the easy thrill.

But eventually most people realize there are no magic wands. There are no easy buttons.

Putting in Effort

Success in life isn’t an accident. It takes planning, and dedication.

People seem to understand that to get a good job they (usually) need to put in time to get schooling or learn a trade. They understand that if you want to excel at a sport or a musical instrument, you need to put in time to learn. And the more time you put in, the better you get. Olympic athletes don’t achieve that level by chance. Sure, they may have good genetics but it still requires dedication and sacrifice.

It’s a pretty simple formula – what you get out of something is dependent on what you put into it. You may not be able to guarantee your level of success, but you CAN guarantee that additional effort improves your chances of success.

Yet many people seem to believe that a successful relationship should “just happen”. That you shouldn’t have to work at it. That if you simply love one another, everything should be rainbows and butterflies.

I think that’s insanity.

A relationship is no different than anything else – shortcuts don’t work.

So if your relationship is in a rut or in a bad spot, it’s up to you to decide how you want to proceed. You can wait, and hope it magically gets better. You can check out on the relationship and start living largely independent lives (pretty much assuring things never get better). You can tell yourself that “this is just what happens in long term relationships”, and accept it as normal. You can escape the relationship issues by having an affair. You can even end the relationship, and tell yourself that things will be better in the future if you just find the “right person”.

There are all sorts of paths you can take.

And one of those paths is to work on things. To focus on the three keys – love each other (even when it seems hard), don’t be selfish, and communicate.

There are no easy buttons.

You only get out what you put in. If you work at your relationship, it can improve. So instead of trying to have the best of both worlds, work to make the world you do have the best it can be.

committment

Advertisements

18 thoughts on “The Best of Both Worlds

    • Seems pretty obvious to me. I don’t know if it’s a fear of working at things or a belief that life should be easy, but it often seems the allure of the easy button is too great for many.
      People want it all.

      There’s a great song by a band called City and Colour that starts:

      Everyone wants everything
      no matter the cost
      we’re longing, to live in a dream

      That pretty much sums it up for me.

      Thanks for commenting.

      Like

      • I agree that it should just be common sense. I think as humans we are always looking for the easy way out. The path of least resistance. People who side step hard work and fall into something great are glorified. As a society we don’t value hard work any more. I think there is also a stigma about marriage and love. How many celebrities lately have said that marriage is hard work and are then chastised for it? People think that love is all sunshine and rainbows. As a girl, we’re taught it right from the start of life with movies and stories. Fairy tales. We’re taught that they live happily ever after. Nobody gets real about how relationships are tough and take ALOT of effort to keep them going. People say if you have to work at it, then you aren’t with “the one”. Its sad really. I think when people admit they have to work at their relationship (even to themselves) they think they are a failure. So rather than admit that and do the hard work they engage in escapes like drinking, hobbies, affairs, etc.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks for your feedback on this. You know, for the most part I don’t really believe that men and women are all that different. I guess I accept that there are some obvious differences between us, but I lean towards the “nurture” part of the nature/nurture debate, and think a lot of our differences are due to socialization.

        And you hit on something I started writing about a while ago, and haven’t been able to finish (mainly due to a concern that people will misinterpret it and think I’m sexist)…

        You say “as a girl, we’re taught it right from the start of life with movies and stories. Fairy tales. We’re taught that they live happily ever after.”

        I see that, and I think it’s SOOOooo destructive. I think there are many women out there (men too, but more women due to what they see when they are raised) why buy into this notion that relationships are magical, and they just need to find “the one” and then life will be perfect and wonderful. The logical extension of that is, when times get hard and you need to work at things, then you obviously haven’t found the right person.

        That is just so backwards, and that’s one of the things I tried to get across in this post. In all areas of life we are taught that to excel, you need to put in effort and work at things. Why should relationships be any different?

        More and more, I believe that talking about conflict, accepting it as normal and even healthy. I’m sure most peoples parents had issues, and tried to keep it “in house”, so they hid it from their kids. But when that’s your primary model for a relationship it leaves you woefully unprepared when you have issues in your own life.

        It just seems we’re doing a lot of this stuff wrong.

        Like

      • I couldn’t agree more. I have already told my 5 year daughter that fairy tales aren’t real. No knight in shining armor or prince is going to come rescue her. Not in those words but in a level she can understand and not be cynical. But its important to me that she be independent and can take care of herself. I also teach her the other side that love and relationships are hard. I tell her probably every day that she will make me mad, we will argue and disagree but there is nothing she can do that will make me stop loving her. That we are a family and we fight for each other. She’s in kindergarten and has already run into some arguments with friends. I’ve talked to her about compromising and apologizing. I want her to have successful relationships and marriage. And as her mother, it is my responsibility and privilege to teach her by example and to communicate with her.

        Liked by 1 person

      • You touch on another issue I see in gender roles. Many women still seem to be brought up with this traditional/old school belief that if they find the right guy, not only will they have happiness but they will also have someone to “take care of them”. On the flipside, many men still seem to believe that their only real role is to “provide”, and they are (perhaps subconsciously) looking for someone to gratify their needs in terms of domestic stuff, child rearing and a sexual outlet.

        Then you have the “new enlightened” approach that values independence, and believes that women should not “need” a man, and that people should just date and “have fun”. Likewise for men – the eternal bachelors who never “settle down”.

        Personally I don’t see either of those as a great approach. I think that the desire to be in a relationship is part of a basic human need for belonging, and building your own family. Relationships in my mind are positive, and wonderful things. But they aren’t magical – they require effort and commitment on both parts. I do place value on the sexual side of a relationship (typical guy I suppose), but see it as something that is more about intimacy and vulnerability – a form of communication and a special thing that couples share. In my imaginary world of relationships, they are a true partnership where each person is valued, and in turn values the other. A world where people use communication and compromise to find a balance between their own needs and the needs of their partner while building a life together. A world where the individual still matters, but “we” is more important than “me”.

        And as you said, a couple will argue and disagree, and that’s alright. Hell, they may not always “like” each other, but they will always love each other and be willing to work and fight for the benefit of the relationship.

        Sounds like you are trying to teach what I would consider a healthy viewpoint. If more did, and there was less media saturation of unrealistic relationships I think divorce rates would be lower and the world would be a happier place.

        Like

      • “Soul mates” are another fairy-take like concept. There’s the idea that if you’re not finishing each other’s sentences and have everything in common, then you’re not with “the One”. If the Universe joined you together, there’s no work to be done, you’re simply perfect for each other.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, all those concepts just set people up for disappointment in relationships.

        I’m a big believer in romance, but it’s something you need to put in to your relationship. And it’s the responsibility of both people. It’s not the guys responsibility to keep passion/romance alive, and it’s not the girls. It’s up to both people.

        Anytime anyone is unhappy, I ask – what are you putting in? Often people who aren’t happy have stopped putting any effort in. So, should they be surprised if the relationship is in a bad spot?

        I think that often people have a one sided approach, and their focus is on what they are getting out of the relationship. That IS important, no one should feel like they are the only one putting in effort, or giving and not receiving. But both people need to matter and feel valued.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. It’s nice to see that there are at least others who believe hard work pays off in the end…and that relationships require that hard work. Many want to have the easy button and for that to be ‘ok’…why shouldn’t it be ‘ok’ for me to find my own happiness (the kids need to see me happy) and it should be ‘ok’ that I don’t have time to be a full time parent (the kids are doing fine and they know I love them)

    The easy button. Something I’m not too familiar with myself…too busy picking up the slack for my ex (the selfish cheater and part time parent)

    Liked by 1 person

    • As mentioned in the post, hard work doesn’t guarantee anything. But it does give you the best chance possible.

      I think a mistake we make culturally is in rewarding and over-valuing success. Success IS important, and usually is the result of hard work. But it’s the effort that’s the important part, and what we should value.

      If you think of life just in terms of destinations, then you judge it on whether or not you meet those destinations. Thing is, it’s actually the journey that matters. And sometimes, even if you don’t achieve the destination that you were hoping for you can still have an incredible journey. Does it make the journey any less valuable if you don’t achieve the destination? I don’t think so.

      The journey is all about the hard work and effort, and to me that is what matters.

      Not sure if that makes sense, but that’s my thoughts on it.

      Thanks for the comments

      Like

  2. I don’t know I put many hours and years dedicating to my marriage and communicating and he just was so sure of himself that we were fine and he found himself in an affair. So I disagree but I think there is such a thing as marrying poorly, but on the flip I have beautiful children who are happy
    I want them to know what a healthy relationship is divorcing my husband I don’t think shows I’m taking the easy way out but sometimes I wonder if that’s what I am doing.. It’s strange

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah, there is definitely marrying poorly. Partly because people often marry before they really know who they are or what they want out of life.

      But that often takes ages to figure out, and maybe some of the trials and tribulations of life are required in order to figure that out. So there’s no easy answer.

      As for divorce being the easy way out, that’s a choice you can always second guess. Would it have gotten better? Could things have been done differently? I’m sure the answer in virtually all cases is “yes”. Perhaps a different question is “did I do enough”. If you’ve worked at it and tried and things still weren’t working, then there’s nothing wrong with accepting that things didn’t work and walking away.

      When a situation is turning you into something you are not, then often that is a sign that it’s time to go.

      One thing I heard that I really like is one person talking about their divorce said “I realized that yes, I did still love him. But the situation wasn’t good for either of us, and wasn’t getting better, and I love myself more”.

      Like

  3. Pingback: A New Beginning | thezombieshuffle

  4. Once again I find myself nodding in agreement to every bit of it! @thezombieshuffle (didn’t know how else to address you) I look forward to all your blogs.. they give such clarity on a lot of things that we don’t bother worrying about. I could relate to this one on a personal level. Loved it! Also wish you a very Happy New Year! 🙂 God bless 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: The “Easy Road” | thezombieshuffle

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s