Setting The Bar Low

I don’t like to bring up social issues on this blog. There’s probably something that makes this seem like a lie, but I genuinely don’t. However, this is one I couldn’t ignore.

I’d rather not get into the details, but two days ago, I got a huge reminder of how fortunate I am to have my boyfriend. I say that in spite of the arguments and near breakups we’ve had, and I mean it. I’ve read a lot how men are praised for doing the bare minimum, especially when it comes to caring for their children, and I agree it’s ridiculous if that’s the case. At the same time, when you’ve never gotten even that, the bare minimum can seem like the peak of the mountain.

A friend of mine is in a very rough spot right now. She’s staying with friends and relatives, alternating between houses. She had to argue with her boyfriend just to get his attention and check in with him if he’s home or not, despite he knew she had to go out. From her frustration and arguing, it was obvious this happened a lot. He apparently has a habit of ignoring her just to rile her up (if she’s not exaggerating). Even when she finally got a hold of him, they continued arguing. All because she wanted to know if he was home or not so he could possibly let her in.

My boyfriend came with me when I needed a root canal for no other reason than I asked and was anxious. He asked the dentist if he could hold my hand. He couldn’t (dentist said certain things splatter), but he was allowed to stay in the room, so he did. Note my boyfriend lives thirty miles away, so this is going out of his way. He still did it, and arranged his work schedule to allow him the time for it.

That specific example may not be the bare minimum, but caring for your partner’s well-being is. January 2020 will mark five years since we met (June 2020 will be five years of being a couple), so any honeymoon phase ended long ago.

I hear of relationship struggles like my friend’s all the time. In general, it’s a running joke a woman’s first child is her husband and it’s so odd to me because that doesn’t describe my boyfriend at all. Contrarily, as an example, we argue (playfully) about who does domestic chores better and he insists on doing certain ones because “I don’t do it right”. Yet for some women, their boyfriend or husband washing a single dish would be a small victory.

I know being over the moon for doing what anyone who shares a household or a relationship should do is setting the bar low (note: I’m talking heaps of praise, not simple appreciation and a thank you), and my boyfriend agrees, but it’s hard not to feel I lucked out when I grew up with and continue to be surrounded by relationships where it’s an endless battle solely to get a helping hand. When my friend was arguing with her boyfriend on the phone to know if he’s home, my mind couldn’t stop drifting to my boyfriend, who’d wait at home all day until I came back if he knew I couldn’t get in without him (or give me the key, which is more sensible).

I feel writing this post is mocking people who have these struggles in their relationships, and that is not my intent. Rather, it’s bewildering to me this is so common, getting the bare minimum feels like winning a battle. I’m describing an observation, not trying to belittle others, and a very confusing one at that.

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