Is Marriage Simply a 50-50 Partnership?

Lately, I have heard some people describe marriage as a 50-50 partnership. In order for a marriage to work, they say that each spouse must do their “half” of the work. When marriages function from a 60-40 ratio or even a 70-30 breakdown, the marriage suffers, or so they say.

From the first time I heard this, something about it didn’t sit right with me. It’s not that I think one spouse should do everything and the other just sit back and reap the rewards. Not at all. It just seemed to me like something was off with this and I needed a resolution to my dilemma.

I am so thankful that the Lord has blessed with a discerning and insightful wife. When I brought this up to her, she didn’t give it two seconds thought before she helped me understand the problem. Stephane explained, “It’s better to think of marriage as a 100-100 partnership.” I soon realized that she was right. Each spouse must be willing to give 100% in order for the marriage to thrive under God.

You will have to forgive me if this sounds like an unnecessary matter of semantics. I can see some people thinking that it is possible to put forth 100% effort while still only doing 50% of the work. But I do think this is important and even worth some thought. For example, who decides what equals 50%? I am sure that there are tons of couples who think they are doing their 50% while the other spouse is failing to do their half. Naturally, conflict arises because 40-40 just doesn’t cut it.

Another problem is agreeing on who does what. Let’s just say the husband works full-time while the wife stays home with the kids. Obviously, no sane person would say the wife is not working, even though she is not bringing home a paycheck. But how do you break down 50-50 in a situation like that? Answer: it’s really tough.

Another potential problem with this equation emerges when life takes an unexpected turn. Let’s just say that your marriage has operated under the 50-50 agreement for several years and it seems to work for you. Each person does their share and everybody is happy. But what happens when the wife becomes ill and is bedridden for months on end. The husband is now required to do far more than his 50% share. My guess is that he is going to feel cheated because he’s doing most of the work.

See if you think this sounds like 50-50 or 100-100:

“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…..Husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church” (Ephesians 5:25, 28-29).

I don’t know about you, but that sounds like 100-100 to me. If husbands are to truly “love their wives, as Christ loved the church,” it will require no small measure of the grace of God and a 100% commitment. Paul illustrates this truth in a powerful way. What man doesn’t take care of his body? I don’t see a whole lot of guys starving themselves to death. Well, in the same way we care for ourselves, we need to care for our wives.

In case you did not know this already, you married a sinner. They are not perfect, but then again, neither are you. Rather than worry about all the faults and failings of your spouse, and about all the times where they fail to do 50%, why not commitment yourself to giving 100% regardless of what percentage “you think” your spouse does. You will find this works a whole lot better than the 50-50 agreement does. Two people (man and wife) who are committed to serving one another and doing whatever they can to see their spouse thrive and grow is what a biblical marriage is all about.

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