In our society, a lot people think that marriage is a fifty-fifty arrangement. That we each contribute equally to the relationship. The problem with this kind of thinking, is that it leads us to hold back and to keep score.
We fell into this trap earlier in our marriage. When life started to get busy with young babies, our relationship got neglected. We found ourselves focusing more on each other’s faults and shortcomings, and we started to feel hard-done-by, that the other wasn’t pulling their weight. We lost sight of our mission to communicate love and acceptance to each other, and instead communicated disrespect and criticism. We started to nit pick over little things and pretty soon we were grumpy and irritable with each other almost all the time.
Some one once recounted to us the story of his grandfather, who, on his wedding day, was advised by his father that in marriage it wasn’t 50-50. It was more like 70% give and 30% take. In other words, orientate your thinking towards being a ‘giver’, rather than a ‘taker’. When we do this, two things happen.
- Firstly, when our spouse needs extra support, we’ll be less likely to resent their neediness. We’ll avoid that score-keeping mentality that drags so many marriages into arguments of who’s not doing their share.
- Secondly, we’ll foster a sense of being privileged in our marriage, because we’ll feel like we’re receiving more than we deserve. And when we have that sense of gratitude towards each other, we not only think well of our spouse, we are also more joyful and optimistic about life in general.
This is not about lowering our expectations for our relationship. It’s really about re-orientating our expectations away from our ‘entitlements’ and towards our ‘responsibilities’. Have high expectations, but have them of yourself, not your spouse.
Don’t fall for the 50-50 marriage myth. If you choose to approach your marriage primarily as an opportunity to give love, rather than receive it, you’ll avoid self-pity and have a more joyous relationship.
The 50-50 Mentality Quiz
1. How many of the following thoughts and/or behaviours do you display in your marriage?
- Keeping score
- Complaining about how hard your life is
- Thinking things aren’t fair in your marriage
- Resentment towards your spouse
- Thinking your spouse has it too easy
- Keeping a mental record of offences against your spouse
- Thinking that you have to ‘fix’ or ‘reform’ him or her
- Making judgements that your spouse is lazy or selfish
- Feeling sorry for yourself