When one starts getting competitive in marriage, we forget that we either both win or both lose.
While it’s healthy to have a sense of competition to grow, being a competitive couple can make one’s marriage toxic. From who the kids like more to petty things such as who cooks better or drives better, some of us just pick fights not because we’re angry with our spouses. Rather, we’re angry with ourselves. We hate feeling insecure and inadequate. We hate feeling “never enough”.
The Unspoken Rules: The Source of Insecurities of Never Being Enough
It’s easy to address and call out feeling insecure but it’s another story altogether to find where it comes from. But it can come from anywhere with society being the main culprit. The existing norms and biases that people have can create what we always call the “unspoken rule”. “The man has to earn more”, “the man has to know how to drive”, “women need to know how to cook and clean” — all these outdated, unspoken rules can trigger insecurities. And a lot of times, people react negatively to things that are opposite to the rules without knowing what kind of pressure it adds.
The Pressure Creates The Competitive Couple
At its worst, our competitiveness in our marriage is supposed to be a small itch that just needs a scratch now and then. But the pressure can be suffocating especially when the couple sees the constant display and praise for the other. Unfortunately, some decide to store the insecurities they feel away because they’re aware of how irrational it sounds. But doing so is what then leads to subtle potshots, defensive responses, and eventually, full-blown fights with blaming.
The Adage: “Marriage is Teamwork”
We’ve probably heard more than enough times that marriage is supposed to be teamwork. While that is true, it does nothing to soothe the insecurity. All the more we start walling ourselves away from our spouses because we’re ashamed of our insecurities. We know it’s not good for our teamwork. A small part of us knows that they didn’t mean to make us feel this way. It’s not their fault, or is it?
What happens when it gets too much?
If we let the competition in our marriage run, we soon start taking checklists. We start measuring how much work one does more than the other. We start blaming our partners for every little thing that happens. The fights get bigger and bigger, sometimes even dragging the children to play as mediators or nets for the stability of the family. Sometimes, we want to keep the kids out of it but in a fight, we always try to find allies. And sometimes, we try to find it in our kids.
“You Either Both Win or Both Lose”
Although our spouses are the last ones we want to disappoint, it’s better to come out with it to them rather than bury it. When they vowed “for better or for worse”, that also meant supporting our fights against our insecurities. Just like we would do for them. Because in choosing to let the insecurities degrade into competitiveness, nobody wins. We not only feel worse about ourselves but soon, our spouses will, too. Airing it out and appreciating each other will help in making those insecurities lose. Besides, two heads are better than one when it comes to winning and solving a problem.