Marriage isn’t 50/50.

Anyone who knows a married couple, is a married couple, or who has been counseled, engaged or read any “marriage preparedness” books is familiar with this statement- Marriage is 50/50. The core sentiment of this statement is that each person has to do their part to make a marriage work.  A sentiment I can get behind. But the idea that it’s even stevens, he has your half and you have your half, can lead to unhealthy expectations and resentment. 

A married couple I have great admiration and respect for gave us this piece of wisdom – marriage isn’t 50/50. Marriage is 100/100. It is both of you giving 100% of yourself, 100% of the time. 

This same mentor also told me that marriage doesn’t fix or solve all your problems but instead acts like a mirror, reflecting everything that you already are. Your strengths, your weaknesses, your flaws, your highs and your lows.

Like so many other families and married couples in the year 2020, we found ourselves quarantined at home for weeks/months. My husband works full-time outside our home. I also work outside the home in a part-time capacity, go to school full time, and we have two small children that are home more days than not. Mid-March, all of the employees at my husband’s company were laid off for 8 weeks. Our limited part-time childcare we had for our oldest ceased. My husband was at home, and my hours outside the home at work increased alongside schoolwork. 

We had a rare opportunity that so many couples might wish for. To trade places. My husband held down the fort with our 5-year-old and 2-year-old all day every day while I worked additional hours during the day at the office I intern for and then came home and had to start on a full 8 hrs. of schoolwork after 6-8 hours of work. My husband took over the majority of cleaning, cooking, and caring for our 2 children during this time. In essence, we “switched places”. He told me the first two weeks felt good and then he felt really crazy after that, and it was hard for me also to come home from work, knowing more work awaited. 

What is my point in sharing the advice from a high school youth pastor and sharing our family/marriage pandemic story? This season of our lives like so many others took more than my husband giving 50% and me giving 50%. It took everything. 

And more importantly, the way we gave everything looked different. I’m not saying one spouse can’t work full-time outside the home and not help with cooking, cleaning, kids, etc. or vice versa. But this unique season of trading places helped us to both see the way each person is giving their all, all the time for the other and for our family. It is challenging to grow and build a family alongside a career and creative dreams, but less impossible when you appreciate the unique ways your spouse gives and the ways you give, knowing all the ways are necessary and important for your marriage, lives, and family. 

God gave our family a great gift in the midst of so much upheaval happening on a personal level and societal level – a greater love and respect for each other. My husband is back to working full time and still helps with things when he’s home. I still work outside our home, though with less hours than before. We can see and appreciate the ways each other is giving their all on a daily basis. Wearing another person’s “shoes” is a humbling experience even when that other person is your spouse. Those 8 weeks reminded both of us of the importance of appreciating and respecting the unique contributions we both make to our family and how to better show our support and voice appreciation and gratitude for each other. I pray as a couple and society we don’t forget the lessons that we have learned in 2020.