/ Christian living / Mark Loughridge

Marriage proportions

What proportion is marriage? 50-50 seems like an ideal place to start. A fair input from both parties.

Maybe some read this and think “50-50?! That’s a pipe-dream! If you knew my other half, they leave all the work to me… they never…”

Or there is the other side of the story, “They think I do nothing… They don’t see all I’ve had to do in order to earn a crust to support them all…”

And so it goes. 50-50 may seem like a fantasy. And how would you measure it anyway? Is it 50% of the housework? Or workload? Is it decision sharing? Or outcome sharing? Or parenting sharing?

I don’t actually think many regard marriage as a 50-50 spilt, but the mindset behind it does easily permeate our marriages. We might never put a figure on it, but the concept lurks.

And it is dangerous because:

- It brings a ‘contract’ mentality to a relationship situation. The often unspoken, “I’ll do all this for you, you should do this for me.” Or “I’ve done my share, now the rest is up to you.” A contract view of marriage breeds a record-keeping spirit rather than a servant-hearted spirit.

- It breeds a self-centred view of marriage, not an other-centred view of marriage.

A far better perspective on marriage is to see marriage for what it is—a covenant. It’s a promise, “for better, for worse… I pledge myself to you”. This is a giving of everything, promised by both parties. That makes marriage a 100-100 split. Each of us is to put in 100%.

We are to put our 100% in with servant-hearted eyes. If there is something that needs done, and I can do it—without leaving a bigger mess!—I need to do it. If something needs put away, or I see the dishwasher needs emptied, I need to do it—not because I am ‘helping’ but because I am serving.

Marriage is not about contract negotiation, it’s about living in such a way that you bear the other person’s burdens, and you fight for their corner, instead of fighting for your own. You see what they do, not as ‘part of the deal’, but as loving service, and praise them for it.

And it is about you doing your 100% not with an eye to see if they are doing theirs.

Having said that, I suspect us men need to have better eyes for seeing what needs done, and doing it—rather than being so focused on our own world. It may be that on paper we would agree wholeheartedly that marriage is 100-100, but in reality we leave our wives to carry much of the home. I remember one minister saying, "Sometimes my wife has to say, 'I'm doing family, and you're doing church again' for me to see that my priorities have drifted." It should be "We do family", whatever other roles I may have.

Christian husbands, we need to make sure that we do not provoke our wives to measure the amount of work they do because we are failing to help them bear the burdens they have to bear. We only leave them vulnerable to Satan's attacks.

God’s word calls us to “love [our] wife as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25). Husbands are to serve and love with a commitment that can be measured only by absolute servant-hearted sacrifice.

Don’t think that I am like this. I need a radical restructuring of my selfish heart. I need servant eyes and heart given to me. But the Jesus who is the standard for sacrificial love is also the Jesus who transforms self-centred hearts into other-centred hearts.

We need to know Him so we can be made like Him. And He will not only change us, but change our homes too.

Our marriages don’t need better power-sharing, they need the transforming power of Jesus Christ.

Mark Loughridge

Mark Loughridge

Mark pastors 2 churches in the Republic of Ireland. He is married with three daughters. Before entering the ministry he studied architecture. He enjoys open water swimming, design, and watching rugby.

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