Coping with Unfairness: On Fairness Part 2


A friend of mine suggested there is more to the fairness issue than just understanding you are always looking for something to be even. I thought about this for a moment and realized that I agree, there is more. Here is more.

When we are looking for something to be fair, or we are disappointed because things are not even, we come from a place where we have been hurt. Our hurt helps us see right and wrong in a very visceral way. It’s everywhere. It always exists. That’s how we evaluate whether we are treated properly, we ask the question, “Is it fair?”

Why Does Fairness Feel So Important to Us?

Coping with unfairness in relationships can be difficult. Fairness is very important to us individually, but also to society. For example, people built statues to honor Themis, goddess of justice.

So where did this concept come from? I believe our personalities mold around this structure early in life. I think that if we are keepers of fairness we have suffered in our past. I know from as far back as I can remember I can relate to feeling taken advantage of by someone and when this happens I become enraged and I absolutely know it in my bones that it is not fair!

My wounds must have been so deep that whenever I felt hurt I would think about the unfairness of everything that happened to me. This is the structure that I based my disappointment around. Maybe you feel these things too. I think it must be pretty common, but I can really only speak for myself. Even so I believe that I felt things were unfair since I was a child.

Our Outrage at Unfairness Stays with Us Through Life

I carried this into my adulthood and used it in my jobs. When I worked as a reporter if someone got a better story it was not fair. If someone had the lead story it wasn’t fair. Everything was based on what others did to me. I viewed the world as having the handle on my happiness. If it gave me what I wanted I would be good. If I didn’t get what I thought I should have I would feel terrible.

When we see unfairness, we limit our life to the experience at hand. I didn’t know this earlier in my life. I know it now. I know I have been healing the old wounds enough to be able to see more complexity in life and not take everything so personally.

Supportive Partners Can Help Us Deal with Unfairness

Coping with unfairness in relationships is easier with a little help from a supportive partner.

Part of my healing came from my husband. Here’s what happened. Years ago, I stuck my head into the refrigerator and looked for the leftover peas. I had my heart set on eating them. I looked and looked, but I couldn’t find them. Then I asked my husband in an alarmed voice, “Where are the peas?”

He replied, “I ate them.” He said this as natural as can be, but I took it as an assault against my being. How could he do this to me? This was not fair! So, I asked him “Why did you eat my peas?” My husband who knows me and understands me, sometimes better than myself said with loaded humor, “I ate them to hurt you.”

Humor and Warm Responses Can Help Calm Us Down and Restore Perspective

This was so out of character for him because he is very kind and never vindictive. So, when he declared that he was doing something to get me mad, it made me laugh and laugh and we both laughed and that broke me open in some way I am still learning from. He did not do anything to me. He did not stop loving me because he ate the peas. He just simply ate them.
It takes what it takes for those of us who have been wounded to find a way to see that the world is not here to make us suffer. It is my hope that you can learn this lesson so you will not suffer when things do not seem fair to you. Because without believing that people do things to me, I get to feel them as the good humans they are, just like you. Just like me.

Want to Feel Like Things Are More Fair in Your Relationship?

Read a Book About Relationships

'Safe. Happy. Loved. Simple Skills for Your Relationship.' A book by Linda Nusbaum.

Learn how to cultivate fairness in your relationship by reading Linda’s book, Safe. Happy. Loved. Simple Skills for Your Relationship. It might help you communicate more clearly and have a better idea of what you do for one another, what you both feel you need, and how you can both feel fulfilled. Give it a read.

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Come in for couples counseling. Couples counseling can help you and your loved one get the most out of your relationship. It'll equip you with coping strategies and tools for communication that can help you argue less and love more.

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