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My marriage is not 50-50…and I’m OK with that

I am one of the many excited people counting down the days until November 25, when I will gather with friends in front of Netflix…and binge watch A Year In the Life.

As much as the character Emily Gilmore drives me crazy, when she spoke these words to her daughter in Season 7, for an instant I almost loved her.

I think he’s good for you. But it’s not going to be perfect. He’s not perfect, and God knows you’re not perfect. But marriage is not about always being happy, and often it’s about not being happy at all. It’s about compromise, which is not your strong suit. It’s about swallowing your pride sometimes, about doing what he wants. It’s not about winning an argument, which may make you sad, because that’s what you love. But I don’t want to see you ruin this. Marriage is serious business, Lorelai, and if you don’t take this seriously, it could fall apart faster than you could possibly imagine. And he’ll be gone, and you’ll be alone again. A ring is no guarantee.

One of the best pieces of marriage advice I have ever heard was in a response to the common assumption that a successful marriage is a 50-50 relationship. It was my mother-in-law who laughed at this phrase while we washed dishes together in her kitchen, I a newlywed, telling me she didn’t believe this to be true. Because, she continued to tell me, a successful marriage relies on both people giving 100%.

Before she said this to me I had always nodded in agreement with the idea that a good marriage was 50-50. This was the fairest set-up, was it not? 

But over the past 10 years of being married it has become quite clear that a strong marriage relies on so much more than fairness. On trying to keep things equal.

Love goes beyond keeping score.

I am definitely not an all-star at giving my husband 100%. At times I am more the all-star of giving him 10%, and pointing out all the ways he is not giving ME 100%. 

But in little ways my heart is softening and I grow in that real kind of love that longs to give 100%. Every now and again I am reminded…

Do to your husband as you would have him do to you.

Love your husband as yourself. 

______________________________

When at a writer’s group recently I shared the writing I was working on, and told the group I didn’t have any specific goals at the moment, only to continue with the work I was doing. After sharing this, one of the group’s members turned to me with wide eyes, leaning in over the table and says “Well how can we support you?!”

Her question caught me off guard. Not only in its eagerness but also because it was all about my needs and not about hers. 

This type of selflessness and concern for another person’s needs is rare. But what if we all took this approach to our marriages, our parenting, our friendships. What if we looked each other in the eye and said “What can I do for you today to support you?”

That is giving 100%. That is swallowing pride. That is love. And that is what we all could use a little bit more of. THIS is what I want to give more of. Not in a self-deprecating way, but in a way that says I am worth it, therefore so are you. 

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