The Deception of 50/50 Relationships

Too often, marriage is referred to as a 50/50 deal. I hear it all the time. It’s a common phrase we use to describe how our relationship with our spouse should look. But, if you’ve been married for more than a few years you probably realize how false this idea is and how much it actually leads to unmet expectations, disappointment and conflict.

The idea of “meeting in the middle” or the relationship being a “50/50 give and take” sounds judicious, fair and profitable for both spouses. The problem is that 50/50 is almost always impossible. Why, because we are not always going to agree on where the half-way point is, at least not for every issue or circumstance (no matter how big or small). In other words, what happens when I feel like I have been giving or doing my half or my 50, but my wife feels like I am only at 30? What then? Well, we’re left with unmet expectations, disappointment and eventual conflict.

Here’s an example: the husband feels like his 50 is to work hard and provide for the family and his wife should take care of everything at home: the kids, housework, paying the bills, etc. In his mind, that’s 50/50. On the other hand, the wife might be thinking that his 50 includes helping out around the house a little and consistently backing her up with the kids. Both are sincere in their expectations. And both are sincerely trying to meet them. The problem is that they don’t agree on the expectations. They don’t agree on where the 50/50 is. The result is obvious and unavoidable: unmet expectations, disappointment and conflict.

I had the chance to speak at Bible Camp last week. The theme for the week was “Peacemakers”. I was asked to speak on “Causes on Conflict”. Here was my bottom line point: conflict occurs when someone chooses not to act like Jesus; or said another way, every time someone chooses not to act like Jesus, there will be conflict. Let’s plug this into the 50/50 problem. Is Jesus a 50/50 person? Does he have a 50/50 plan? No, not at all. Take a look at what Paul wrote to the Philippians. Keep in mind that, in this passage, he was telling them how to create and maintain unity.

Philippians 2:3-8

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. 5Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

There was nothing 50/50 about what Jesus did for me. He left heaven: not 50/50. He gave up his deified form and became a human: not 50/50. In humility he considered himself lower than me: not 50/50. He died for me: not 50/50. There was nothing 50/50 about what Jesus did for me. Why then do we think that 50/50 relationships honor God, create harmony or endure tough times? Godly, healthy marriages that endure have two spouses that go 100/100. Nothing less will do.

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