Uneven Equality

My relationship with my husband is far from equal.  No, this isn’t going to be one of those “My husband doesn’t do anything around the house, and he never helps look after the kids” post.  Just the opposite.  To say I’m spoiled is putting it mildly.

I’m grateful for what I have.  Bil’s lucky enough to have a job that allows me to stay at home with Vista.  He doesn’t expect me to clean the house and have dinner on the table when he gets home.  Instead he encouraged me to hire a cleaner to come in once a week (OK, I admit it.  Keeping house was never my forte, even before we had a kid.  I am a complete slob.  I was an utter disappointment to my OCD neat freak mother).  He’ll also often pick up dinner fixings on his way home from work and then play with Vista so I can cook in peace.

So, yeah, I have things pretty darn good.

When Mother’s Day rolled around this year he went out and bought me a spa package gift certificate.  A massage, pedicure, and facial… pure heaven.  But, Bil being Bil, figured I’d enjoy it more if my best friend came with me.  Knowing my friend’s on a tighter budget, he bought her a gift certificate as well.  So the gift was for me and my best friend to spend the day at the spa together.  Pretty awesome.  But it gets better.  Since I’ve never spent a night away from Vista since she’s been born, the plan was for my friend and I to spend the day at the spa, go out for a nice dinner, spend the night in a nice quiet hotel room, and come home the next morning.  All courtesy of my amazing husband.

I’ve been jazzed about doing this.  So when my friend came over for coffee this afternoon I asked her about a date so I could book the spa.  She’d been not quite herself through the whole visit, so I knew something was up.  She informed me that she would still go do the spa day with me, but the dinner and the night at relaxing at a hotel was out of the question.  Her budget wouldn’t allow it.  I tried to explain to her that this was my gift from Bil and there was nothing to pay for but she wouldn’t have it.

istock 000004877499xsmall 264x300 Uneven EqualityShe informed me that our friendship was becoming too ‘uneven’ and she didn’t like the feeling of inequality between us, because she couldn’t reciprocate. End of discussion.  I understand where she’s coming from.  I know what it’s like to stress about money.  That feeling of not being sure you can make ends meet, picking which bills are actually going to get paid, hoping you have enough for groceries.  I’ve been there.  More than once.  When you’re in that situation, money is everything and you don’t want to feel like you owe people.  I get it.  I tried to explain to her that just having her come spend the day with me and help me keep my sanity is reciprocation enough.  But she won’t budge.

I’m crushed.  I was so looking forward to a real girl’s night out.  I need this break.  So now what?  Do I find someone else to go with me?  But I was really looking forward to spending that time with my friend.

I wish there wasn’t this part of the human psyche that tries to insist that relationships (including friendships) must be exactly even, and anything outside of that means you’re beholden to that person.  It’s this mentality that causes one-upmanship and ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ syndrome.

I just wish my friend could see that my gift to her might be a day at the spa and an evening at the hotel without kids, but her gift of friendship, good conversation, and the opportunity to spend time with her is worth far, far more in my books.

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6 Responses to Uneven Equality

  • Lisa says:

    I hope your friend reads this and realizes that her friendship is the best gift she could give you.

    Jenn Reply:

    Thanks! That’s sweet of you to say.

  • avasmommy says:

    Jenn, I’m sorry she’s feeling this way. I hate that people do this. I don’t know how to say this without sound self important, but by nature I’m a generous person. I like giving gifts and doing things for people. I NEVER expect anything in return, I just want to make people happy. It makes ME happy. But so many times I hear, “Oh, I feel bad, because I can’t do the same” or, “You didn’t have to do this”. I KNOW I didn’t have to. I do because I WANT to. People have not been taught to be generous in receiving as well as giving.
    I hope you friend changes her mind. She has an awesome friend in you.

    Jenn Reply:

    I think you’ve hit the nail on the head exactly. It’s a rare skill, those who know how to graciously receive a gift without trying to decline it first.
    I’m like you – I makes me happy to see other people happy. I don’t need (or expect) anything in return. And in fact, and perhaps this is part of why this upsets me, I almost find it insulting. As if the only reason I’m doing it IS to get something in return.

  • jennster says:

    i totally understand both sides. if i was you, i would WANT HER THERE so badly and be so excited for US to get away and spend time together etc.. no matter how it happened. but if i was her, it would be one thing if i knew you guys could totally afford it, and it wasn’t putting you out, and it didn’t happen often- i would like to think that i could accept it……. but i don’t know. maybe i couldn’t. maybe i would think it was too much. i think that she was being really honest and instead of accepting it and then forever having it linger between the two of you, she did the right thing. it might have affected you MORE than you realize had she accepted and been uncomfortable with it forever.. know what i mean?

    Jenn Reply:

    I see what you’re saying, and you’re right. I just wish people wouldn’t get so hung up on the monetary value of something if it’s not a big deal to me (if that makes any sense??)

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