Marc is making his solo debut today as a guest blogger over at Motherlode. I'm excited about his post because I think it brings up a really sneaky barrier to equal partnership. Marc's topic is about the ways in which 'appreciation' can keep us unequal. It is an expansion on the blog post he did earlier right here.
But as might be expected, many of the commenters have interpreted his message as recommending that we skimp on common courtesy and kindness to our partners. There is much poetic talk in their comments about how thanking each other teaches our children manners and demonstrates love. And about how life is sweeter when we lavish appreciation on our partners for the simple things - like loading the dishwasher or cooking a warm meal.
As our 6-year-old daughter, M, would say, "Come on, people!" Courtesy should be a given in an ESP relationship (and in all relationships). Marc is hardly advocating rudeness or ignoring our partners' contributions. Kindness, too, is a lovely thing; no couple could live happily together without loads of it. The world would certainly be a better place if we all practiced courtesy, kindness and gratitude continuously.
But showing appreciation for our partners as a means of manipulating them (even with the most innocent of intentions) into doing their share of housework or childcare, or expecting appreciation for doing our share, are what Marc is unearthing with his post.
It's controversial stuff, we know! But that's what makes it so fascinating to dissect.
Marc ends his blog by saying he has no need to be appreciated for cleaning the toilet. As the recipient of this message, I have to say this brings a sense of relief. How great that I don't have to add 'build up husband's esteem' or 'don't forget to tell husband you noticed his efforts' or 'make sure husband knows how much I love him today' to my list of mental to do's. Phew! The best part about this deal is that it frees me to truly and simply love him. That might even include the occasional 'thanks, honey - you're the best' comment, but I know that he'll keep on cleaning those toilets even if I lapse. He's not cleaning them to please the 'boss' or prove he's doing his part (which begs notice from me); he's cleaning them because cleaning them is a part of his (and my) life. And he'll still clean them even on days when I am grumpy or snappy or generally hard to live with.
It's almost enough to lavish him with immense gratitude. But, in Marc's world, that wouldn't be the kind thing to do, so I will do so in the depths of my own heart instead.