Overview (Spoilers Abound):
As with Couples that Work, Fair Play was recommended to Luke and I during our labor and delivery class at the local hospital. The class had a marriage counselor come in to give a general speal about the relationship stress that couples generally experience throughout raising a child. It was fascinating look at the potential future that Luke and I were in for, as such I was intrigued when the counselor recommended both Couples that Work and Fair Play. I had to laugh that I read these two relationship foundation books prior to my first baby book. The two books were very different, though they complimented each other well. Interestingly, Rodsky had the same advice as Couples that Work with regard to not making decisions or designating family tasks based purely on financial windfalls.
While I really enjoyed Couples that Work, I was surprised at the range of emotions that Fair Play stirred in me from annoyance and frustration to appreciation. Rodsky really challenged norms I’d accepted in the various roles Luke and I had assumed in how we divided up our responsibilities. Additionally, this very topic of how the work is distributed in the home has been a major discussion point between Luke and I, especially as we started piecing together how those responsibilities would change if we had a baby. Those discussions started years before we actually decided to actually have children. Despite not having clearly defined responsibilities just days before our baby is due, I think the fact that we’ve started the conversation and acknowledge the importance of this topic is a big part of setting the foundation for success.
Based on Luke and my current relationship status, I think that I may have read Fair Play a bit too early as much of the references and advice was not quite relevant. Once Luke and I are established with Baby O, perhaps then we will find it necessary to really hard core apply the game that Rodsky is proposing regarding responsibilities. Or at least to solidly compose a list that details the responsibilities of each party so that the other can clearly acknowledge the burden held by the other. That said, I think it is important to start thinking about how roles are divvied up and what household jobs Luke and I would be better suited at completing.
One argument that Rodsky makes that has really stuck with me is about how it should be one person’s task to finish a job from start to finish. Luke and I typically tackle tasks together, but just as Rodsky warns it can leave the jobs half done or result in miscommunication issues with how the task should be completed. For example, folding laundry is one task that I absolutely hate. I will fold mine but Luke’s clean clothes will remain unfolded for weeks as he just gets out what he needs from the growing pile. So perhaps if I sucked up and finished this task from planning and conception to execution it would be something I could do that would clean up the laundry pile and trade off the dreaded dishes to him. Definitely worth a discussion that would help our house as a whole, especially as adding a new person to the mix would only add to the burden.
Another key concept Rodsky brought up along these same lines is completing the job after planning and conception of the task, instead of passing the execution off to Luke, whereupon he might not have all the information he needs to complete the job in the manner I’m expecting. Furthermore, I already know I struggle with relinquishing tasks and not micromanaging them, even though it would free up time for me to embark on some precious ‘me’ time or keep my blog active during this transition. I do think that recognizing this trait in myself is the first step in working to correct it, especially with Baby O’s imminent addition.
Overall, while I really believe that Fair Play will be more applicable in a year or two, I’m thankful I read it now as I can start analyzing how Luke and I approach our responsibilities and watch out for potential pitfalls that could lead to one or both of us feeling resentful. That said, many times while reading Fair Play I had an overwhelming feeling of gratitude toward Luke for all the responsibilities he does manage around the house that I might not have been fully appreciating before.