A 50/50 marriage

A 50/50 marriage

Split the work. Cut it in half. I do mine, you do yours. Do away with gender roles. Everything even. This is the modern concept of marriage. But does it really work? Is it really what we want?

This morning I spent about 30 minutes in the kitchen cleaning up after some company my roommates and I had over last night. It was a beautifully relaxing time. Not relaxing in the “Netflix and chill” kind of way. But relaxing because it was early morning, the sun was streaming in through the windows, it was mostly silent, and I watched as a kitchen full of chaos came into order. I actually enjoyed myself. (I know, I must have finally crossed that threshold into very, very old if I say I enjoy cleaning the kitchen… but it’s true.)

I could have done only half of the job. That would have been perfectly acceptable, I was half of the hostesses, I am only responsible for half of the cleanup. Right? Right. But Love doesn’t stop at 50%.

My partner in crime last night had to leave very early this morning for a commitment. The rest of her day is packed, partly with helping me on a project this afternoon. She also stopped at the store yesterday and picked up the things we needed for the coming guests. I could have left her the nasty burger pans. I could have just unloaded the dishwasher and left the rest for her to load. But why? I could easily to the whole, why do half?

In the past few months I’ve done quite a bit of reading about the motivation of Love in all of our relationships (because Love isn’t limited to romance.) Love does what needs to be done, not out of compulsion, but out of desire. Love doesn’t need a list of assignments, it sees a need and fills it to the best of its ability. Love takes responsibility without keeping score. Removing fear and punishment while adding Love is amazingly freeing!

Now, it’s important to point out that removing fear and punishment WITHOUT adding Love is a recipe for disaster. Without the boundaries of fear or Love, our selfishness is left unchecked, we would act without care for others and have no reason for self-control. No, it must be one or the other: fear or Love.

Fear without love is government. It might get things done, but it is cold and without understanding. The rules are applied across the board without discretion. It is limiting and just gets the job done. Everyone does their part or pays the price.

Love without fear, on the other hand, is empowering, freeing and has the potential for each to contribute and the whole be greater than the sum of its parts. This is what I would like in all of my relationships, and this is what I want in my marriage.

I’ve had the gift of watching my parent’s marriage for the last three decades. I can say with confidence it has rarely been 50/50. When we were young my dad traveled quite a bit for work, leaving my mom home with 5 kids, 2 dogs, and a mother-in-law who lived upstairs. Later, my mom experienced some health issues which took her out of the game for a while. Still later my parents worked and lived in two different states for weeks at a time. They each had different strengths and abilities to contribute, and at different times each contributed more or less – but things always got done.

Ideally marriage is based on real Love. Love that is patient and kind, not envious or boastful, arrogant or rude. Love that doesn’t insist on things always being its own way. Love that doesn’t keep an account… Love that is willing to go above and beyond, not because it has to, but because it wants to.

No, I don’t want a 50/50 marriage. I want more than that, and I have more than that to give.