Metaphors for marriage
I've used this once or twice here on TAM, and I think it's pretty apt if I do say so myself. Thoughts?
Relationships and marriages are like jobs and careers. Even the time frames are extremely similar, relative to one's age.
By the time you're 10 or 12 or thereabouts, most kids have a "job" - cleaning up their room, or maybe even a paper route. Nothing serious, but something to teach them responsibility and make a few $ a week in allowance money. Around this age, many kids are also starting to take a mild interest in the opposite sex. Nothing serious, maybe passing notes or holding hands.
When you hit the teen years (let's say 14-17), you start to want to earn some $, so you get a part time job somewhere for minimum wage. You learn the value of hard work, learn how to follow direction, and you earn your own pay cheque. The relationship mirror is similar - you learn "on the job" so to speak, how to be with somebody of the opposite (or same I suppose) sex. Things to do, things not to do. In either case, each are temporary. If you get fired, you move on. It's usually no great loss at that age.
Once you hit adulthood (we'll say 18-22), a job suddenly becomes much more important. Not only are you looking for valuable experience for the future, you may actually have some bills to pay on top of that. Not being fired becomes much more important, so you take whatever job you have more seriously, and even want to gain a promotion if possible. You realize it's not likely you'll stay with this employer longer than a few years, and you're aiming to graduate to something bigger and better (ie. a career), but you never know. By this time, you have enough experience to know how the game is played, and that you get back what you put in. You also know when to quit and move on.
By the time you're in your mid-20's, you have a very good idea of what you want to do with your life. You have practical experience. You've had okay jobs, great jobs, and terrible jobs. You've quit and been fired or laid off. You now know what you want. You may find it at 25, and then it goes sideways, but you get back on the horse and try again. It may take several years to settle in at a company that you want to work for AND that wants you and recognizes your value.
And it's at this point that so many people go off the rails in relationships and marriages. They no longer treat them like they treat their career paths. If you spend x-amount of years figuring out what you want to do with your life, go through a dozen jobs, all the ups and downs of searching, finding, being fired, being praised and rewarded, or being under appreciated and even used - and you finally find a career you want at a company you want to be at - then the last thing you want to do is sabotage yourself.
So many people do this in relationships. They do all this work and learn all these things, and get all this experience, then once they land the big job, they sit back and feel that all they have to do is show up between 9 and 5 and that's good enough.
People generally don't do this in the work world (well, some do, but that's another story...). Those of us who have spent countless years gaining experience, learning this and that, and eventually focusing on one area that they're interested in, don't mail it in at work once we've got to the point we set out to get to in the first place.
Why are relationships and marriage so different? The harder you work, the more your employer will value you, and the harder you'll want to work for them, and so on and so forth. If you start to take your employment for granted, or you feel you're entitled to something because of your tenure there, your employer will see right through this and put the kibosh on it. You don't get ahead by being complacent in the workplace. You DO get ahead by going above and beyond, and continuing to put the same effort into things that you've always done.
To me, it's simple - relationships are a job, a career. There's work involved - including things we don't necessarily want to do. Nobody wants to be stuck in a dead end job, nobody wants to be under-employed, and nobody wants to be under-valued or appreciated. You avoid things like this by making yourself invaluable, by working hard, by doing the little things, and by going above and beyond. If you have a good employer, they will return this in spades. Conversely, if you work your a** off day in and day out and you're not rewarded thusly, then maybe it's time to move on. Nobody wants to put their heart and soul into a company that doesn't recognize that.
People see this in the work world, but they often miss the obvious parallels in relationships and become entitled and unaware, and it's sad.
Last edited by alexm; 07-15-2015 at 07:51 AM.