By now you have probably read Seth Adam Smith’s blog post about how he decided his relationship with his wife was an act of selfless love. Seth claims, “Marriage isn’t for you. It’s not about you. Marriage is about the person you married.”
Profound words, indeed, but they immediately lose their teeth because Smith’s next words contradict his claim of selflessness. He says, “I wanted to make her happy; to see her smile every day, to make her laugh every day.” Smith emphasizes “her,” but notice that he begins the sentence with “I wanted.” That’s the part which should be emphasized. This is not selflessness! Ultimately, it is still about what Smith wants.
But that is okay! There is nothing wrong with wanting what is best for yourself in life and in relationships.
When I decide to spend my valuable time with someone as friends or romantically, I do it because I think that relationship makes MY life better. When I love someone, I do things to make that person smile and try to make his life better. Why? Because if I love him, I want to. His pleasure is an experience that makes my life better.
Call it what you want, but that is not selflessness! If someone is in a relationship with me for selfless reasons, then that is an insult. It says, “I don’t get pleasure from you, and being with you is a sacrifice to myself that makes me less happy.” If I am his chore or obligation, I say “no thanks!” Don’t do me any favors.
Smith says that love asks, “What can I give?” True enough, but the best kind of love actually says, “I enjoy giving to you,” “I want to experience you,” and “my life is better with you.”
I am in no position to judge whether or not Smith’s relationship with his wife is what is best for him, but that is the question he should ask. Figuring out what you want in life and relationships can be hard, but that’s just life. You still have to do what’s right for you.
Brittney Wheeler is an Econ nerd with a passion for monetary and institutional economics. Her wide-ranging work experience includes everything from sales to bank regulatory compliance. She loves learning almost any topic and thrives on change. When she isn’t reading, Brittney can be found lifting weights or practicing pull-ups.