Why 50/50 Marriages Don’t Work


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Why 50/50 Marriages Don’t Work

As a therapist I work with many couples who come to me with their 50/50 marriage. Most couples don’t choose this pattern. (Although some do.)

Life happens and they begin to view their marriage more like a business arrangement than a devoted couple. The trap is going for ease and efficiency but then I usually hear the complaint “we have fallen out of love with each other.”

Somewhere down the road of careers, kids, activities, and volunteering, they lost the principles of God’s design for love.

And ultimately they become disappointed in their spouse and resentful.

So what do I mean by a 50/50 Marriage? I see it as the marriages that fall into the “mine and yours” mentality.

Examples include separate bank accounts, separate bills, designated chores, seperate “night off” evenings for each spouse, separate vacations, etc.

Now most couples have some roles designated, however, the difference in a 50/50 marriage is that the lines become firmly drawn.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7(NIV) Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

I’ll break down this passage to show you how 50/50 marriages fall short.

Love is patient, love is kind

When marriages use a 50/50 mindset or “mine and yours” they tend to lose patience and kindness towards their spouse.

Because in these relationships the focus is not each other but the item or task.  My clients will focus on the amount of funds in each other’s accounts or the chores that didn’t get completed by their spouse. They lose sight of their spouse as the person they vowed to cherish.

They stop not only asking about the why of a situation but they also stop caring about it.

For example, a 50/50 marriage may have designated chores. They decided one of the husband’s chores is to mow the lawn. The wife gets home before the husband who ends up having to work late. The lawn doesn’t get mowed. This happens a few nights in a row. The wife loses patience in her husband for not completing his chores and either begins to nag him about the lawn or begrudgingly mows the lawn.

No where in this scenario did the wife focus on her husband with patience and kindness realizing the extra hours he is having to work. The focus became the chore and not her husband.

It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud

I hear my couples in a 50/50 marriage start to boast about their own accomplishments at the expense of their spouse. The focus then becomes about boosting themselves up instead of their spouse or the marriage as a whole.

One of the spouses will start telling me about their ability to get their bills paid or their chores completed. They will brag about their aptness for saving and the cool toys or vacation they are going to buy with their money.

Let’s be honest, the entire point of bragging is to show off AND to put someone else down. In this situation, it’s their spouse.

The result turns into one spouse becoming envious of what the other spouse has.

It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered

Marriages that have chosen or find themselves in a 50/50 mindset continue to fall down the path further away from love.

After the bragging and envy, they start being rude towards one another. “If you would be better with your money, you’d be able to take a vacation too.” “If you weren’t so lazy, you’d be able to get all your chores done too.”

At this point emotions are high and a 50/50 marriage only focuses on themselves. The focus becomes hurting the spouse more than the spouse is hurting you. It turns into a desire to win the fight. They forget that it also means their spouse has to lose.

That old saying for kids, sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me? It’s a terrible lie when it comes to marriages. (And pretty much anytime really!) Words from spouses hurt. Bad. We are talking about the person who has vowed to love you and cherish you.

It keeps no record of wrongs

Because of the wounds 50/50 marriages receive, they hold on to them. And unfortunately they fester and continually get brought up. Over and over.

Over the years of being a therapist I have heard so many stories of situations that have festered and corroded marriages. And I’m not talking about big situations like affairs, gambling, or substances.

I’m talking about truly insignificant situations that the spouse is just not willing to let go of. Leaving the toilet seat up. Not keeping a certain amount of gas in the vehicles. Chewing loudly. Stealing the covers. Taking part of the newspaper. Eating the last of the leftovers.

I have had sessions where there was an actual argument about each of the above. With each situation the spouse reported being hurt because their spouse wasn’t thinking of them. My response back has always been, “Were you thinking of them?”

These marriages struggle to forgive because they lose focus on loving their spouse and strengthening their marriage.

It turns into a selfish desire to receive love but forgets to focus on giving love. Unconditionally.

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth

50/50 marriages end up in a place of minimizing and justifying their own actions because of what their spouse is or is not doing.  Now we’re talking about the big situations.

Lying – I wouldn’t have to lie if you didn’t freak out every time I talked to you.

Substances – I wouldn’t have to drink to enjoy myself if you weren’t so uptight.

Affairs – I wouldn’t have had to be with someone else if you would have given me the love I needed.

You get the picture.

The couples I have worked with who are in these current situations usually state, “I don’t know how we got here.”

They got there because they lost sight of God’s design for love. They lost focus in loving their spouse not in spite of their flaws but because of them. These marriages allowed themselves to draw too firm of lines. They stopped focusing on caring for their spouse.

It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres

Marriages who have a 50/50 mindset can change but it is going to take a complete paradigm shift. The attention of the marriage will have to be a concerted effort in providing patience and kindness towards the spouse. When a spouse focuses on protecting and trusting their spouse they put them as a focus and a priority.

If you are trying to figure out how best to love your husband or wife these posts may be beneficial as well, A Wife Wants to be Desired and A Husband Wants to be Respected.

I pray that this post helps you and your spouse work towards the love God has designed for you and your marriage.

God Bless,


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About Melissa

Melissa is a Christian mental health therapist, wife and mommy of two. She works with children, teens, adults, and couples to better manage their distress and hopefully become closer to God in the process.

20 comments on “Why 50/50 Marriages Don’t Work

  1. Great article! I appreciate how you took us directly to the Word and demonstrated how the worldy wisdom of 50/50 falls short. Stopping by today from the By His Grace Girls facebook group. 🙂
    Jen @ Being Confident of This

    • Be in the world not of it right? There are so many worldly “truths” that fall so desperately far from God’s design for us. Thank you for stopping by. God Bless

  2. OH what truth you share here! I love your insights and wisdom you shared, based on God’s view of love. 50/50 doesn’t work because LOVE and marriage can’t be based on performance. Thank you for this. I’ll be sharing this on my page. 🙂

    • There is such a difference in marriage when the focus is God and trying to give your love to your spouse rather than just trying to receive love. I’m glad you liked the post. Thank you for stopping by and sharing! God Bless

  3. Yes! Yes! Yes! I absolutely agree! It’s so important to give our all to the gift God gave us. Our model is Jesus. Striving to live and love like Jesus, seeking God with our whole hearts, humbling and forgiving is the only way to create a successful marriage. Filling in the gaps for each other and allowing God to fill in all the gaps. 50/50 shouldn’t be a term in marriage. 100/100; we give it our all, for the glory of God.

    • So true! Yes, we are supposed to fill the gaps for each other not out of obligation or begrudgingly but because that is how Jesus loves us! Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts and insights. God bless!

  4. I think the hardest aspect of this for me is the money-making aspect. It’s hard not to feel guilty that my husband makes our money and provides financially for us. So it’s difficult to not think of it as “his” money that he gives me.

    • That can be hard but it’s about how you both help, care, and provide for each other and the family as a whole. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and perspectives! God bless!

  5. You’re right. It can’t be 50/50, it has to be 100/100! It is so easy to fall into keeping a record of wrongs, and you’re totally right, that is when I am thinking 50/50 – like he owes me something. Thanks for this.

    • Yes, the keeping track of wrongs can lead marriages down a sad path. Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. God bless!

  6. Very insightful, I myself had a failed marriage a couple of years back; I learned a lot of the lessons you have shared in this post. Marriages need to be 100/100! 💕

    • I’m sorry to hear about your marriage. It is a sad situation for many people. Thank you for stopping by and sharing your experience. God bless your journey!

    • Yes, I think too often people believe they each only have to give 50 so that together it makes 100. But then if one person doesn’t bring their 50 then the marriage is less than 100%. Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. God bless!

    • It definitely becomes more stressful. Whether chosen or fallen into, the focus seems to be in an attempt to be easier and more efficient for each individual. But as soon as a marriage starts focusing on themselves it’s going to falter. Thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts. God bless!

    • Thank you Chelsea! Yes, this 50/50 approach often leads to divorce because the focus is very “me” centered. Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts and encouragement. God bless!

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