Tit For Tat

Tit For Tat

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Tit for tat – short for this for that. A fair exchange. Quid pro quo, Latin for something for something. A favor for a favor.

How do we feel about that inside of relationships?

I’ve always hated it, because it involves keeping score.
And while some people are brilliant at it, running a metal tally sheet – I suck at keeping score.

I remember being blindsided inside of relationships by brilliant score keepers who insisted that I had fallen behind in the favor department. Apparently not enough tits for all their tats.

“You drive! I’ve driven us around the last three weekends, do you realize how expensive gas is?”

“We always see the movies YOU want to see. Have I told you lately how much I hate science fiction? You OWE me!”

“It seems like it has been all about Janet lately, when is it ever going to be about me?” Ouch.

Some even got sexual depending on the fight. Actual tits for tat. Others were about family, garbage take-out, even food.
WTF?

All of those declarations caught me off guard. “Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t realize we were keeping score.”

I was sure that when I had signed the agreement after reading the very thick dating manual, that I must have missed the fact that everything was subject to become a line item on a debit sheet, and furthermore, I myself, had neglected to keep score.

DOH!

“You have me at a dis-advantage” I tried to plead my case, sure that I could come up with some outstanding infractions on their part – but I couldn’t – I just thought we were being a couple, doing nice things for each other – not making deals.

Someone told me this story the other day, about going to their therapist loaded down with resentment toward their spouse.
Eventually, after several months of couple’s therapy with her husband, the therapist confronted her and said: “You think you are giving gifts. But you are making deals.”

She was struck dumb. What?????
“A deal is when there is a mutual agreement, an expectation. A gift is given.”

She admitted that their therapist gave her a gift that has lasted a lifetime.

My husband tried ONCE to keep score, reminding me of something he did that he felt wasn’t “repaid”.
“We don’t tit for tat in this relationship,” I snapped, trying not to yell. “Speak up in the moment if you don’t like something, don’t keep score, it isn’t fair unless we both agree to do that – which I will NEVER agree to. Do something nice because you want to, because you love me, or don’t do it at all, and for Godsakes, don’t hold it against me! Some days I will be selfish, some days I’ll be freaking Mother Theresa, some days a warrior, other days needy, don’t take score – deal with it!” Okay, maybe I was yelling.

You see it’s been my experience that on occasion, relationships can feel lopsided. No one promised us equality. That word wasn’t in my vows.
But it’s also been proven to me that the scales do even out…eventually.

It may take a while, but the weekends alone with all the kids, the late nights at the hospital, the hard talks about money, and the times you agreed to sex when you were too tired to think, the Thanksgivings spent with horrible Bonnie and crazy Uncle Ned, summers at the Cape being eaten by mosquitos, early morning carpool, working two jobs to keep things afloat, numerous bad choices, mistakes and failures – they all come back around.

So don’t be so quick to keep score.

Give your love with no expectations – open-hearted, as a gift, and you know what? It will come back to you ten-fold. I promise.

Carry on,
xox


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2 Comments
  • Dominator says:

    First, let me state that your husband is a very lucky man to have a relationship with such an open-hearted person and I’m sure he’s very grateful for his good luck.
    But…
    Being a student of Romance languages and with French roots (like your husband!), my understanding of “Quid pro quo” is closer to the original Latin meaning: “Take one thing for another”, referring to a misunderstanding or a mistake. It’s more of a “What gives?” than a “Tits for tats”.
    In a relationship, a certain amount of “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander” applies and I mean in the sense that what a man can have or do, so can a woman have or do. If one or the other feels slighted, follows a certain code or path that is not shared, you end up with an uncomfortable disparity.
    The cure as always is communication and gratitude.

    • jbertolus says:

      Morning Dominator,
      Let me say that I am the lucky one in my relationship – my husband is a saint.
      I’m sorry but I still don’t agree with “goose for Gander” comparisons either. It still implies taking score. I agree that communication is the key. Relationships are inherently “energy in flux,” I have found, with the “advantage” shifting between partners. At the times it seems unfair – speak up! But if you stick with it long enough, it tends to find balance. Key ingredient that is necessary? LOVE.
      xoxJanet

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