Outsourcing Your Marriage

We live in a world where we are encouraged to outsource. Whether it’s the Ford Motor Company outsourcing its I.T. needs to India or American Express having its customer service representatives based in the Philippines, we tend to outsource important tasks to others when it suits us. I’d like to get into the concept of “outsourcing” as it relates to our relationships, especially our marriages.



Why Outsource At All?

Early in my marriage (at this point 16+ years), my wife and I realized that our need for having fun was vastly out of sync. Where she would be a “10” on a ten-point scale for requiring “fun,” I was probably around a placid “2”. Naturally, when she’d want to go out and “do something” and I had no desire to, this would cause some newlywed tension. Being the problem solver she is, she came up with a solution: outsource the fun. So, she began going out with her fun girlfriends while I remained at home, contentedly un-fun. She was happy, I was happy, perfect!



But Shouldn’t We Be Perfect for One Another?

I bring this topic up and this concept of outsourcing our marriage (or parts of it), as I often will encounter a couple that has the mistaken notion that “s/he must be everything to me.” A spouse may get the erroneous notion that their husband/wife must meet their every need and have a fantasy of what a “good spouse” does. I believe this to be patently false, and the cause of much unnecessary emotional turmoil in a marriage.


We are all human, and all have ways in which we fail to align with our spouse’s expectations and interests. If I expect that my wife can cook and in fact she cannot, we’re going to need to come up with a solution quickly before frustration sets in. If a woman thinks her husband should be in charge of the bills and in fact, he cannot balance a checkbook, the relationship is going to run into a challenge. These are things that can be, at least to some degree, outsourced. Indeed, I know a family where the wife simply can’t find the time (or motivation) to cook, so they buy takeout many times a week and her husband fills in the rest. Outsource it.



There Are Exceptions

I do want to point out that there are things that are obviously not “outsourceable.” Physical affection and the deep emotional bonding that is supposed to occur between husband and wife should only be done with your spouse. The emotional connection between spouses is sacred in nature, and cannot be shared in the same way with others.  If a spouse has not learned how to emotionally connect with his/her spouse, intervention should be sought. Due to upbringing or general emotional disposition, someone may have a hard time connecting deeply to their loved ones. In this case, the outsourcing should involve seeking a competent marriage therapist.


So let this not be too big of a shocker. We have specific roles as husbands and wives. However, there are things which we may be unable to accomplish and satisfy for our spouses. No guilt need be laid and no shame felt. Sometimes, the smartest approach is to outsource it.



What do you think? Would you, could you, outsource something in your marriage? Please share your questions, thoughts and comments below.

Rabbi David Fredman
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