Yes, I know exactly what you’re thinking. Everywhere you look people are either saying there’s no such thing as a 50/50 marriage or a 50/50 marriage doesn’t work. The notion is both people should each give 100% in order for a marriage to be successful. Therein lies the fatal flaw in this philosophy. With the exception of a partner or spouse being disabled or incapacitated the irony of a 100/100 philosophy is if both spouses are trying to put forth 100% effort there is a natural tendency for either one or the other spouse to deprive his or her mate from their needs and wants over time.
Family Life defines a 50/50 marriage to the effect of “You do your part, and I’ll do mine,” which entails either spouse will only do so much to maintain the marriage. Family Life also pontificates that For a marriage to thrive, both spouses need to put aside their own desires and seek to serve the other. This is what they’ve extrapolated from Matthew 22:36-40 and Philippians 2:3-4, but whole point of a marriage is as Genesis 2:24 states for two to become one flesh. Not that I’m trying to make this a biblical topic but just to point out how convoluted and perplexing this Christian based concept is.
The Women’s Therapy Institute states: “in a union, you both have a common purpose, therefore it doesn’t matter who is doing so much in an area or who is doing less.” That in itself is the definition of a 50/50 marriage. However, the same author of the article states that “a 50/50 marriage is exhausting.” Those two statements in themselves are paradoxical as well as misleading. Again, as with a union basically being one how can two people each give 100% in everything if it doesn’t matter who is doing more or less?
In my first marriage I had so much enthusiasm to prove myself as a man, a friend, a husband, a lover, a stepfather and subsequently a step grandfather that I lost sight of my needs and wants. In the beginning life was wonderful with my new wife and extended family and our relationship was amicable. However, as time went on my wife, stepdaughter and grandchildren as well as my extended family needed and wanted more and more of my time and resources.
I had such an innate desire to not only be a better husband, friend, protector and provider than my father was to his family but also to prove to my mother that I wouldn’t end up being his carbon copy that I grew more selfless as time went on. However, My wife took more of a backseat approach particularly after we bought our first, brand new, built from the ground up, first occupants to move in home.
95% of my free time outside of work revolved around maintaining both vehicles, maintaining all aspects of the household from electrical, to pluming, AC, carpentry, lawn care, etc. In addition, whenever my wife, stepdaughter and grandchildren needed anything I was there for them, no questions asked, no matter what time of the day or night, and done lovingly.
All family activities year around revolved around interacting with her side of the family and little to no contact with my side of the family. To add insult to injury, not only was my wife a master at narcissistic gaslighting my stepdaughter exhibited behavior indicative of borderline personality disorder.
The end result–The more effort I put into making the marriage work and keep the household together the harder my wife and step daughter worked at sabotaging the marriage. Now don’t get me wrong. I wasn’t just helplessly obedient in this situation. I worked hard at maintaining a line of communication and even incorporated assistance from a licensed marriage and family counselor, which my wife vehemently rejected.
Every marriage isn’t doomed because of a personality disorder. Marriages fail for a myriad of reasons stemming from financial instability to unresolved character flaws that either one or both parties are guilty of not dealing with before engaging in the pursuit of love and happiness.
The entirety of the point is this: The concept of a 50/50 relationship relies heavily on attentiveness and reciprocity. As wonderful as it may sound for each person in a marriage to give 100% it isn’t sustainable over a long period of time. According to the U.S. Census Bureau the average duration of a marriage is 8 years before inevitable divorce. Considering my first marriage only lasted 7 years there is truth to that statistic.
According to Unified Lawyers not only is the global divorce rate continuously increasing fewer people are getting married. So, for all this advice on having a 100/100 marriage the concept has failed miserably. In many cases a 100/100 marriage simply isn’t feasible.
This is how a 50/50 relationship works. Reciprocity goes much further than simply taking turns paying for a date night. The success of a 50/50 relationship revolves around being intuitive to each others needs and wants in conjunction with mutual fairness, honesty, transparency and equity.
For example: Unfortunately, Jay has been very ill for the past several days. Not only has she been ill she has had a particularly hard time recovering from her illness. Obviously I cannot be of any help to her at her workplace but I can make every other aspect of her home life much less of a responsibility. Also, there are other times where juggling both her career and business means either she is away from home for long hours or she may be preoccupied even while at home as she manages her responsibilities.
This is where not only managing the household automatically becomes my priority, I must also be creative in making sure she is a priority. This comes with careful planning through mutual communication on a daily if not hourly basis. I also have to balance two careers. Many times I’ve not only been away from home for long hours I’ve been out of the state for days at a time. Jay is just as mindful of my wants and needs as I am of hers.
Even though we are constantly attentive to each others wants and needs it would be easy for either one of us to to fall short over time by either one of us taking the other for granted thereby placing more of the burden on the other. Transparency and honesty is required in order for one to carry the other and vis versa for unspecified periods of time yet reward one another thoughtfully and creatively.
Jay has also been equally as mindful of my wants and needs as well as makes me a priority. For example: On every occasion when I’ve been out of state she not only carefully plans how to manage the household she is attentive to planning ahead for my wants and needs when I return.
We consistently support each other as responsibilities, goals and priorities shift. In other words, She gives her 50% and I give my 50% and fine tune our efforts into achieving a singularity of matrimonial success. Placing 100% responsibility on one individual is only necessary when your significant other is ill or going through a period of hardship. The 50/50 marriage isn’t simple or easy. No lifelong commitment is simple or easy. Being 50/50 requires two people who have taken the time to learn and grow from their mistakes and prioritize what is truly important. The key in facilitating a 50/50 marriage is you both have to want it, and you both have to be willing to adjust accordingly otherwise you’re wasting your time.
If your significant other is lacking in any of the aforementioned and shows no signs of wanting to change for the better by participating in professional, premarital counseling marrying this person isn’t going to all of a sudden make their shortcomings disappear. There are too many other potential love interests out there to die on a hill with someone that is part of the reason why you’re fighting on that hill to begin with.
Whether the machine in question is human or man made longevity coupled with reliability and operating at 100% capacity is not possible. If efficiency and sustainability can be a goal for a better economy and environment why not also make them a goal for relationships? I don’t expect 100% from my wife every single day or even week to week nor does Jay expect 100% from me. This isn’t a team sport and we’re not in competition with each other or anyone else. We’re in love and living life efficiently and sustainably ever after.