by Franchesca Lane-Warren (www.bossygirl1980.com)
When I got married five years ago, I was under the impression that because I was now a married women that me and my husband would do everything equally. You know, if I cooked dinner one night he would cook the next night. If I happened to clean up the closet one week, the next week he would do the same. To make matters worse, my mother-in-law’s favorite song, “When Someone Loves You,” constantly played in her house. I was being brainwashed about what to expect in a marriage.
I got married in a glorious wedding ceremony and we had the perfect honeymoon, but as the days, weeks, and months started to pass by I started to get pissed off. Where was all of this 50/50 love I had heard so much about? There were some days were everything was 50/50, but there were some days were it was 60/40 or 70/30! (GASP!)
Were we doing something wrong? Did this mean we would not “make it”? Nope, I was about to get “schooled” on why a 50/50 relationship is a thing of the past.
Tired of feeling like I was doing everything, I decided to approach this topic as diplomatic as possible. One night (fed up) I screamed during an argument, “I do everything around this house!” In his ever-calm way he replied, “Everything in our marriage can’t be equal. Sometimes I will do more than you and sometimes you will do more than me.” Still salty about cleaning the house more than him, I gave him the side eye to make sure he understood that I was serious and we cleaned up together but this comment made me think. Could a marriage survive if everything wasn’t 50/50?
I was about to find out how this 50/50 model was not in our cards because I decided to go to graduate school. In the two years I was in this program, I became the slacker around the house. I couldn’t clean like I wanted to and he picked up my slack. I couldn’t cook like I wanted to and he cooked for the whole family. There were times I had to miss school events for our son because I was preparing my thesis and he went. Were tables turning? Was I going to have eat those words I had screamed a couple of years prior? Of course I had to and with that I developed four reasons why I do not buy into a totally 50/50 love.
1. A 50/50 relationship implies that you are keeping score of every deed you do. Everything I did in the marriage I expected him to reciprocate in some way. So if I cleaned out the kitchen one morning, I expected him to do the same. This created a “you owe me” attitude (by yours truly), which eventually translated as me being angry. There were times when he would come home from working 12 hours; would I really expect him to cook dinner because I did the night before? Absolutely not. Or what about days when he cleaned out my truck; would he expect me to clean out his? Heck, no. We just understand that we do as much as we can for each other without a record of doing. A relationship is not about keeping tabs; it’s about helping your partner in areas they are weak in.
2. There are some things my better half just can’t do better than me. One time I asked my husband to wash, dry and fold a load of laundry. Knowing I would be uber pissed if he didn’t, he obliged. He worked really hard and when I got home he proudly told me that the laundry was done. As I went upstairs to the laundry room I noticed that yes the laundry was done but it wasn’t done the way I wanted it done. (I am super anal about how clothes are folded.) SIGH… Did I march downstairs and curse him out and demand for the laundry to be redone? No, I just never asked him to do laundry again. So what’s the lesson learned in this? Accept that there are things you have to do to get them the way you want them and vice versa.
3. Sometimes in a relationship you have to “take one for the team” and keep it moving. This is a controversial one right here but let me give it to you straight with no chaser. Sometimes in a relationship you have to pick up where your mate can not for whatever reason. Let me give you an example. Right out of college I was the one who got the “good” job first. My husband was hitting the pavement but because of his field, the job market was slow. Even though he wanted to, there was no way he was going to be able to contribute equally financially. I dealt with it because I knew there may be a time when I could not do the same. And just like I predicted there are times when he had to pay a bigger portion of the bills””for whatever reason. I appreciate that instead of arguing and accusing we just do what we have to do and realize that there will come a time when the situation could be vice versa.
4. Appreciate your mate’s talents and work with those. I appreciate that he will unstop the toilet after one of the kids have stuck a toy in it and he appreciates that I will negotiate with the cable company for a lower rate. We use our talent to help in the marriage and it works for us.
The truth of the matter is that you have to construct the boundaries of your relationship. I’m not saying that you should be doing everything all the time, but sometimes doing everything is the only way to get anywhere in the marriage. In a perfect relationship (who has one of those?) everything would of course be equal but since no one is perfect I highly doubt you will find a couple where is equal.
So what do you think about the 50/50 model? Do you follow it? How is it working for you?
Fran is the owner and head writer of lifestyle blog, www.bossygirl1980.com and lifewiththreekids.wordpress.com. You can find her on Twitter @Bossygirl1980 reliving the good, bad, and strange world of parenting.