My husband and I have a fairly traditional marriage.
He works outside of the home in a very male-dominated field while I stay home all day and take care of our children. I do the majority of the housework while he takes care of all of the repairs, yard work, oil changes, etc. And then we help each other out as needed.
We’ve found a good balance, and it works for us.
Unfortunately, however, I know not every married couple can say this. In fact, your husband may not help at all.
“It’s not fair!” you think, as your husband sits on the couch watching football while you do the dishes or break up a fight between your children for the 100th time today.
Maybe your marriage is falling apart and you’ve been unhappy for years. But you’re the only one trying to make things better, and you don’t know how much longer you can go at it alone. You’re tired. You’re worn out. You feel defeated.
Sometimes the hardest part of having conversations like these is simply getting started. With so much tension and resentment in the air, it’s tough to talk about anything, especially such loaded topics like who does how much.
If you and your husband are having difficulty really connecting and communicating on a deeper level, I have something that should help.
These Closer Marriage Conversation cards will help you both open up and start talking again – in a way that strengthens your marriage and draws you closer together.
At the end of the day, you just want a little help. You long for a 50/50 marriage–one where you only have half the burden. One where your spouse carries his equal share. One where you can be happy.
The Truth About the 50/50 Marriage
As nice as the 50/50 marriage sounds on paper, though, there’s one big problem with it: It’s a lie. It doesn’t work. Not in real life anyways. Not if you want to stay married.
In a 50/50 marriage, both spouses would give equally, right? Well, how would you decide what counts as “equal?” How many hours of childcare equals how many hours of paying bills? What about all of the things you each do every day that the other one never sees? Keeping points on paper would be a nightmare, and keeping points in your head only leads to anger, bitterness and resentment.
And even if you could somehow reach a magical 50/50 balance (or at least close enough), what happens when one spouse genuinely can’t carry their half of the load–either for a time or indefinitely? You or your spouse may get sick, get pregnant, become disabled, suffer from depression or develop Alzheimer’s, leaving all or the majority of the burden on the other–then what?
Plus, keeping score is just petty. Shouldn’t you love, serve and take care of your family because you love them, not because they somehow “earned” it because they did enough in return?
I know you want help–there’s nothing wrong with that. You should have help. But, you’re focusing on the wrong thing.
Remembering Your Wedding Vows
If you are married, you very likely said vows on your wedding day. And those vows probably went something like this:
“I, ___, take you, ___, for my lawful wife/husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health, until death do us part.” (source)
Not “I will take care of you… as long as you take care of me.” Not “I will try my best… as long as you try too.” Not “I will love you… as long as you make me happy.” Not “I will love you… until I don’t feel like it anymore.”
But “for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health, until death do us part.”
The vows you made were NOT based on the other person’s reaction or response to you. You vowed–in front of God and man–that YOU would hold up your end of the bargain. Period.
**Disclaimer: Obviously cases of abuse/neglect excluded. But that’s a topic for a different post.
A Better Alternative: a 100/100 Marriage
Sorry to break it to you, but the unfortunate truth is, marriage is not all sunshine and roses. There will be hard times. Really hard times. And it’s up to you to decide how you will deal with them. (Because, after all, your response is the only one you have any control over.)
That’s why, when my husband and I got married, we decided that Marriage is not 50/50; it’s 100/100.
A 50/50 marriage says, “You do your half; I’ll do mine.” A 100/100 marriage says, “I’m all in. I’m committed to making this thing work. No matter what.”
**Again, NOT talking about abuse/neglect here.
Throughout our marriage there have been times when one of us wasn’t able (or sometimes, willing) to step up to the plate, so to speak. There have been times when one of us had to do way more than our fair share, in one area or another.
But you know what, that’s okay.
Because marriage isn’t about giving a half-hearted attempt. A good marriage–a great marriage–is about giving it your all.
In a 100/100 marriage, you don’t keep score.
In a 100/100 marriage, you give even when it’s hard.
In a 100/100 marriage, you give your all, holding nothing back.
In a 100/100 marriage, you give because it’s the right thing to do.
In a 100/100 marriage, you give out of your love for and commitment to the other person, not because you expect to get anything in return.
And even if the other person can’t–or won’t–give back, it doesn’t matter. You give because you promised you would. You give because it’s the right thing to do.
Hopefully, your spouse will return the favor, but even if they don’t. Your vows–the vows you made before God and man–aren’t based on him. They’re based on you.
Marriage as a Reflection of Christ and the Church
In Ephesians 5, Paul speaks about marriage and how it is to reflect Christ and the church. I think this is a concept we all too often forget. And yet, if we would take the time to reflect on it, it could dramatically change our marriages.
Did Jesus wait until we deserved it before he came to die on the cross? Does he wait until we’ve earned it before he offers us salvation or comes to our aid? What happens when we fail time and time again? Does he call it quits and say “That’s enough. You obviously don’t care. I’m tired of being the only one to do it all.”
No, he gives freely, abundantly, and readily… even as we fail and fall time and time again. And we are called to do the same.
You see, your marriage isn’t just about you. It isn’t for your convenience, and it certainly isn’t for your happiness. Not that you shouldn’t want to be happy–it just isn’t the point. Like everything else in life, the purpose of your marriage is to bring glory and honor to God.
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When You’re Going it Alone
“But Brittany…” you say. “I’m tired. I can’t do it all by myself. It’s too hard.”
Yes, it is. Because you aren’t supposed to do it all yourself. Your husband may not pull his weight, but you serve a God who does. Lean into Him. Rest in Him. Make God your #1 priority and see how things change. How you find strength and joy you never knew you had. Find your happiness and help in Him.
Is there a time when divorce is justifiable? Absolutely. I’m not going to draw the line in the sand for you and tell you where it is–that’s between you and God. But I will say it’s a lot further down the road than most people think it is these days.
Is your marriage strained and difficult? Don’t give up and walk away. Fix it.
Have you ever seen the movie Fireproof? It’s a little cheesy, but it’s really good. I highly recommend it for any couple that needs a little inspiration to keep going even when the situation looks bleak.
And did you know that there’s even a book that goes along with it–called The Love Dare? A “40-day challenge for husbands and wives to understand and practice unconditional love,” The Love Dare is a #1 best seller on Amazon currently. There’s even a “Year of Devotions for Couples” version and a “Love Dare Cards: 40 Daily Dares” version.
I even have a whole post full of must-read Christian marriage books that can help you out.
Yes, your marriage problems may be his fault. But the truth is, you can’t control his actions, you can only control your own. Can you truthfully say you’ve given your marriage 100% — absolutely everything you’ve got? If not, then YOU have some work to do, regardless of what your spouse chooses to do.
It’s your marriage. Fix it. You can do it. God will help.
Is your marriage struggling lately? What is one thing YOU can do to improve your situation?
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