The If/Then Relationship Lie

Every time I write a blog post about marriage,  I know that without fail I will be receiving comments from a slew of wives asking,

“But, what about my husband?! You’re suggesting all these things that women should be doing to nurture the relationship, but nothing about what men should be doing! What gives?”

Such was the case after this post about Choosing My Husband Daily and the Choose Love Challenge I hosted. The point of these posts was to encourage intentionality in marriage…finding little ways to be more loving on the daily. But, the thing is…that while those posts (and most of the relationship posts I write) were written towards wives, that doesn’t mean that I think that wives are solely responsible for the happiness of a marriage – it takes two.

BUT, the reason that I write my posts towards wives is because…1) My readership is 95% (+) women, so writing to men doesn’t make much sense, since they probably won’t be reading it. 2) I only know how to be a wife…I don’t know how to be a husband, so the things I write are from that perspective. And most importantly, 3) In any relationship, the only person you can change and better is yourself.

The If/Then Relationship Lie // @ The Little Things We Do

If you’re waiting around for the other person to be more loving first, you might wait forever. There’s this terrible relationship lie that so many people fall into believing…I call it the “if/then relationship mentality”. This way of thinking believes that if my partner is loving to me, then I will reciprocate that love. This thought process can spell doom for a relationship.

Marriage is about being selfless and loving without expecting anything in return…if you want to have a good partner…BE a good partner. And honestly, if you are being loving to your husband, there’s a pretty high likelihood he’s going to reciprocate. I don’t think women need to be doing all the work in a relationship by any means…a good marriage is absolutely a 2-way street. But, you can’t control your husband’s actions. Only your own. So for me and my marriage, I choose to just give as much love and care as I can…and he does the same in turn. It’s a natural cycle. And sometimes I’m taking more and giving less and sometimes the roles are reversed. Relationships are an ebb and flow.

I hope my thoughts are coming across clearly. I definitely don’t want anyone to feel like I believe there should be no expectations for husbands in a relationship and obviously relationships that are super unhealthy and/or abusive are a completely different ballgame. My point is to just encourage you to not buy into the if/then relationship lie, because the scorekeeping can be such a marriage killer.

Heavy thoughts for a Wednesday…I know. Thanks for listening.




  1. I think that while the idea that marriage is a selfless social institution might be a reason why so many women stay in bad ones. I wish people would stop reproducing these kind of ideas because it can be harmful. Domestic partnerships are about a lot of things for a lot of different people and if you want to be happy you have to be realistic and make sure your needs are met. That is the opposite of selfless. You are right about not being able to control the other person, they have to be willing to be a good partner for the relationship to work 🙂

    • @Sara – I absolutely understand what you’re saying. One person can not be continually giving without any reciprocation. That would be completely unhealthy. I just know that the scorekeeping doesn’t really make anyone happy. If my husband isn’t being proactive about bettering our relationship and my needs are being consistently unmet, then of course that is something that should be addressed. I’m not saying to ignore the other person’s bad behavior/neglect in a relationship. I truly believe though that in many cases, if one partner starts making the choice to be loving, more often than not, the other person will follow suit. It’s a natural cycle.

  2. Very good points! Thank you for sharing with us.

  3. I always love your marriage posts! I love the way you love marriage and I love the way you express it through your writing. So good, as always!

  4. our church just did a series for love month and the message this last weekend was AMAZING!!! totally goes along with your post. I would highly encourage couples to listen to this!

  5. I LOVE your marriage and relationship posts! I’m single and enjoy being able to read honest wisdom from women like you that I can hopefully one day put into practice in my own marriage 🙂

  6. I can totally relate. And although being a proud person, understand how important this can be. I find it even more important during arguments. Just yesterday I had a misunderstanding with my husband. I was stuck between waiting around til he apologized, or being the bigger person and letting things go. Instead, I chose to apologize first and to say “I love you” and we managed to get back on our regular rhythm. If/then would have kept us from talking and continue being upset.
    Thank you for your thoughts on this!!!

  7. You’re amazing and I completely agree with this. Anyone that doesn’t needs to read ‘The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands’, by Dr Laura Schlessinger. I think there’s no use in sitting around waiting for someone to do something nice for me. I’m in love w my husband, so I let him know. It’s that simple. He feels loved, so not only does that fill my cup, but since his is filled he will then return the favor. If someone feels they give and give and give with no reciprocation then clearly someone or both people have a problem. Keep doing what you’re doing Lauren I love your posts. <3

  8. This was a wonderful post. I totally agree and I think you put it so eloquently. In fact, I think this is also excellent life advice in general. Thanks so much!

  9. Thanks for sharing, as always, Lauren. I think one of the things that makes your blog so special is how real you are consistently. Love it.

    Mostly Salty

  10. i also know how to be a perfect, great to make a good relationship with my husband.. ..only good relationship make a beautiful world,beautiful moment for both..but this Happiness is very costly and i can’t believe a man for some unexpected reason 🙁 ..anyway, nice write by @ lauren..

  11. As a newly engaged woman (yay), I will definitely keep these points in mind to nourish and maintain a healthy relationship. Thanks for sharing 🙂


  1. […] more love from your partner first, you might wait forever,” explains Lauren Hartmann on her blog The Little Things We Do. “If you want to have a good partner … BE a good partner. And honestly, if you are being loving […]

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