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Simon says, “Do not become competitive.”

How might you and your significant other become competitive? Actually, it is much more subtle than you might think. Even less obviously, you may not see it as competition and might deny that you are competing, if asked.

Do you recall, “Relationships are a 50/50 proposition?” Well, therein lies the source of most of the competition Simon has in mind. If relationships are supposed to be 50/50, then it is reasonable to rate yourself and each other. Who is ahead or behind?

•           “I do all of the work and you spend your time laying around.”

•           “I’m getting tired of doing my work and yours too.”

•           “I’m there for you but you are never around when I need you.”

•           “I hold up my end of things but you just do whatever you feel like doing.”

Do you see the pattern? “I am doing fine and you are screwing up.” Although this is most always the pattern, it can work the other way. “I know that you are getting the short end of things but. . . .” Either way, the race is on, you and your significant other have become competitive.

The first order of business for you is to do today’s business today, every day. Whether your significant other is or is not doing likewise is not the issue here. For you, your relationship needs to be a 100%/100% proposition. The only course you have, your only responsibility is to be sure that you are doing your 100%. If both of you use the same approach, all is well. If not, it is time to re-negotiate.

Of course, you do not start with, “This is unfair. I am getting fed up with your not doing your share.” You also do not open with, “If you are not going to do your stuff, I’m going to stop doing mine.” It is not a fairness issue nor is it a time to start threatening. It is, however, definitely time to sit down and reconsider the distribution of responsibilities.

Sure, there may come a time when you want to do a cost/benefit analysis of your staying in the relationship; but it is not yet time to put that old dog in the truck and take it on down-the-road. To totally mix the metaphor, it is time for some serious horse-trading.

•           Start with your list of activities and services that you think need to be handled but are not. You each will likely have your individual list.

•           Eliminate everything where you disagree. If you do not both think it is important, then the one who does will have to take care of it.

•           Next, eliminate everything where “We agree that it is important but disagree about whose responsibility it should be.” Those are the disputed points.

•           You are left with those things that are important and you agree about whose business it is. For those, it is a matter of each of you doing today’s business today, every day. If either of you will not or cannot do that, you have a quite different problem that needs your immediate attention.

For those remaining disputed points, you horse-trade, understanding that there will usually be a few disputed points that are a continuing source of discussion and tension in your relationship. The key is in seeing that it is not a matter of competition, who is doing more and who is doing less. It is simply an opportunity to creatively resolve the disagreement you are having.

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