How Entitlement Will Kill Your Marriage

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I used to work in customer service. I dispatched vendors to fix broken equipment--from copiers in California prisons, to centrifuges at the CDC, to MRI machines in New York hospitals.

One time, a woman called because her Xerox copier was jamming. And she needed it fixed "like YESTERDAY."

Like a good employee, I took her information and told her I would dispatch her ticket right away and that she'd receive a confirmation email when the vendor confirmed receipt.

Then she stated: "This needs to be a TOP priority." OK. I let her know that I would mark her ticket as urgent, to which she replied: "Someone needs to be onsite TODAY. When can I expect to hear from someone?" 

In my role, I didn't have the technicians schedules. I  just dispatched to vendors. I never really knew when vendors could be onsite. So, my answer was, "Honestly, I'm not sure. But I'm going to dispatch this right away." I then explained to her my role in her service call: I was literally just the messenger.

"Well that's not good enough," she said. "I need an answer. We cannot do our work without this machine working, and it's been down for hours. I need this escalated."

It's a copier, folks. A copier. 

When she didn't receive a phone call from her vendor less than 30 minutes after we hung up, she called back and complained to my co-worker. Her copier was still down, and she needed it back up and running today.

When the vendor finally arrived and diagnosed the problem with her copier, they determined it needed parts that they had to order. Ordering those parts took at least 3 days. Her poor copier was down for a week.

In customer service, I dealt with many people who felt entitled to faster service. Entitled to demand the impossible. Entitled to get what they wanted, because, after all, they were paying for it. The irony is that after a call from Copier Lady, I'd get a call for service on an MRI machine in a hospital, something that actually helps saves lives. See, to me THAT'S more urgent. But would Copier Lady have understood or cared about the difference in urgency? I doubt it.

Entitlement is everywhere. You can go to the store, the airport, the DMV--everybody wants to be treated like kings and served first. Everybody's problems are bigger than everyone else's. And it's all about me

Entitlement. I have no patience for it, and it definitely does NOT belong in marriage.

If I treated my husband the same way Copier Lady treated me, we wouldn't have a good marriage. Heck, we might not have a marriage at all! Entitlement would breed anger, resentment and a lot of frustration. 

Entitlement definition: the belief that one is inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment.

Contrary to the world's push for happiness and success, marriage isn't about ME. It's not about my needs or my happiness. When it boils down to it, I am UNDESERVING of breathing air. Every breath I've been given is only by the mercy and grace of God. We're all sinners, and frankly, we all deserve hell.

But God saved us. And one of the most powerful ways we can honor Him in our marriages is to drop this false sense of entitlement, learn to die to our selfishness, love each other as Christ loved us and be thankful for all God has given us, honoring Him in everything we do.

In marriage, entitlement breeds reciprocation. Like "If I do this for him, he'll do something for me." It's unwise to expect your spouse to always reciprocate your feelings and actions. The truth is, people are different. We're raised differently, we understand situations differently and we give and receive love differently. It's not as simple as, "Hey, we're married now, so I deserved to be loved, obeyed and happy." With that mindset, if your expectations for being loved or obeyed or happy aren't met by your spouse, you can become bitter and angry.

That kind of deserving love isn't Christlike. Christlike love is self-sacrificing, not entitled.

It's also why I have a problem with this idea that marriage should be 50/50. 

Marriage shouldn't be 50/50.

I think marriage should be two people striving for 100/100. You should strive to give your relationship 100% of your effort, all the time. To me, 50/50 implies that I'm only going to put in effort if my spouse puts in effort, and I'm only going to put in [a measurable amount of effort] until my part is met. That's like keeping a scoreboard, and that's dangerous, because you could end up v e r y frustrated. Compounded over many years, it could turn into a lifetime of frustration and resentment. 

I know that I can't always give 100% every day. Heck, yesterday was an example of a ROUGH day for me. I was an emotional wreck who wanted to throw in the towel and just go to bed. I didn't want to be a good wife. During my meltdown, I actually remembered I was writing this blog post and I got angry at myself for writing it--because it's HARD to give 100% all the time.

We all have bad days. Nobody's marriage is perfect. And that's OK. To me, 100/100 is about trying my best in my marriage and setting the expectation that I don't expect anything in return from my husband. He could be operating at 2o%. He could be pouring his all into our marriage at 120%. At the end of the day, I can't control what he does, but I can control me. Some days that's REALLY HARD TO DO because I'm needy and forgetful and broken. Still, it's my desire to TRY.

And in every moment that I'm lucid, I want to strive for 100% so that I'm honoring the One person who's at the center of our marriage: God. I never want to give up on being a better wife so that I honor God in the role He's blessed me with.