Last week I saw a Facebook status update from my sister-in-law, which pretty much summed up everything I’ve ever felt about marriage, but in a way that I didn’t know how to say it. It was like all of the things I’ve disagreed with that I’ve heard people tell me about marriage finally had a clear message to back my stance on things. It was simple, it was true, and it has had me thinking all week:
Marriage isn’t 50/50. It’s 100/100.
Amen, amen, amen… a thousand times.
I could probably just stop writing right now and you all would plow this over in your minds and teach yourselves better than anything that will come from me tonight. But, since I like to type, I’ll continue.
Marriage isn’t 50/50. Well, at least it shouldn’t be. There’s no magical marriage saw that can cut things perfectly even and sliced. Marriage doesn’t come with a chore chart that awards you with gold star stickers, checking off every time you fulfill a responsibility. And there sure as heck shouldn’t be a score board sitting obnoxiously about your fireplace, racking up points for you when you do something better than your significant other, or spend more time cleaning, or making more money, or whatever. If this is what a companionship is based off of, it will be a very long, hard road, that will most likely split or drop off at some point. And one person will always feel less than the other, while the other will always feel like they are doing the majority of the work.
Doing something 50/50 means you’re only doing half of what you should and could be doing. It means you’re only loving, serving, giving, and pouring half of what is inside of you. It means that at the end of the day, both you and your spouse are left half empty, because you only made each other half full.
There’s a story I heard years ago that I often think about. The story of the Oxen. You got me, I know nothing about Oxen, I’ve never lived on a farm (and never want to because I would accidentally kill every living thing on it), and am a city girl. But this story about the Oxen makes me connect with them, and I know it’s not supposed to be capitalized but I feel like they deserve an upper case right now. Those Oxen.
Ox have a yoke than is placed on pairs of two when they are working. The yoke is a wood beam that allows the Oxen to be paired together, and equally pull whatever load they are carrying. It is attached to chains, usually, that are strapped to whatever it is that needs to be pulled. While moving forward together, the Oxen are able to carry heavier weight than they could ever pull alone. It’s the perfect set up for them to accomplish more work. But here’s the catch. Both of the animals have to give 100 percent. This isn’t a 50% effort type of scenario. If one ox is only doing 50% while the other one is giving 100%, both them and the load they are carrying will start to go around in circles. Whatever Ox is pulling harder, everything attached to it will have to follow, creating circles and frustration, and really, really tired Oxen who have done nothing but create more work and pain for themselves.
If you feel like you’re in a marriage, relationship… or anything with another person that isn’t going anywhere, it’s because you are in a 50/50 relationship. And you’re not going anywhere because you’re both running around in circles and you probably haven’t realized why. And that’s okay, because now, you have the chance to give 100% of yourself tomorrow. Somedays I can’t give a normal 100%. Somedays my 100 is less than usual because I’m tired, or sick, or have so much work and craziness swirling around me that I can’t possibly give another percentage of myself because physically it’s impossible. So, my husband makes up for my slack. Somedays, I do the same for him. Because to give the same amount of gusto to every day and every moment is inhuman, not possible, and creates unrealistic expectations. We understand that about each other. Which is why marriage is so great. You are meant to work towards things together, and communicate when you need a little extra help.
However, you can choose to give 100, every day, knowing that somedays will be better than others. In a companionship that is a true partnership, you work together so that 100% is reached, and your yolk is even, and together you keep pulling forward. I’m a mom. I have my own company. I work constantly. I have church obligations. I have a non profit. I have a crazy life that I’m not really too sure how I ended up lucky enough to be in. By the way, I am unfit for any of these roles and am mightily trying my best. I ask for forgiveness half of the time, and the other half I’m making it up as I go along. Having stereotypical 50/50 expectations would destroy our family. We both sacrifice, we both pick up the slack where needed, and we both do a lot of stuff that we wish we didn’t have to.
I’m horrible at waking up early. Totally horrible. I don’t sleep at night, I usually work late, and my mind never turns off. For me, waking up at 6:30 AM is like the ultimate death sentence. And it is for everyone around me too because I can be a momster (monster)… (I think Mike also knows this which factors into our arrangement). Mike wakes up early and gets the kids ready for school every morning. Every single morning! He takes them, and I pick them up, or pick them up from my angelic moms house on the days I work later. His 100 in the morning is better than my 100, so we compromise so that we can put our best feet forward doing the things that we’re good at.
When you give 100, you get 100.
When your load if heavy, pull together.
When it is light, pull together.
Keep pulling forward, and together, you will get to where you need to be.
But it has to be 100/100.
And to all of you single parents out there who have to give 200%… my praise goes to you… because you are the gems of this earth.