Today is Day 25 of #LoveBlog, with the topic Advice. Find the rest of the topics so you can join us for these last few days!
Y’all know I love writing about relationship advice. In fact, I tend to criticize quite a lot of advice on dating, relationships, and sex.
But today I want to share my best secret to a healthy marriage!
When Dan and I went through our pre-engagement counseling, we studied a lot of marriage advice. (We rejected quite a bit of it, for the record). But one tidbit really stuck with me.
Always aim to contribute 60% effort to any shared responsibility in marriage. Your goal should be that you put forth 60% while your spouse puts forth 40%.
This division applies to work and household chores. This division applies to romance. This division applies to who compromises on the smaller things like what to watch on Netflix or eat for dinner.
I did some digging to find the origin of this idea. I think it originally comes from Glenn Van Ekeren.
Rather, the secret of a happy marriage is 60-40. The husband gives in 60 percent of the time and expects his wife to give in 40 percent of the time. The wife gives in 60 percent of the time and expects her husband to give in 40 percent of the time. In a 60-40 proposition, you don’t clash in the middle and say ‘Now, it’s your turn.’ Instead, you intersect and overlap, because you’re each giving 60 percent.
I’m sure you’ve heard the platitude that marriage isn’t 50-50; it’s 100-100. That’s a lovely sentiment and all, but it’s not the most practical of marriage advice. Yes, absolutely each spouse needs to put forth their genuine best effort in marriage. But to build an actual framework for a loving, mutual relationship, you need more practical (and truly mathematical!) advice. Hence the 60-40 rule!
Human beings are flawed. We are biased. Objectivity is a myth. How does this relate to marriage?
It’s easy to assume that I’m contributing more than I actually am. It’s also easy to assume that Dan is contributing less than he actually is.
If you focus too hard on being exactly equal in effort, you’ll fall into the trap of assuming you’re putting in an unfair amount of work for your marriage. Then you might resent your spouse for not doing enough!
But by aiming for 60-40, you help eliminate the confirmation bias and avoid resentment. Plus genuinely aiming to contribute 60% and genuinely expecting only 40% will help you and your spouse better appreciate each other! That said, if you do notice that the division seems more like 70-30, and there are not extenuating circumstances, then it’s time to have a discussion with your spouse.
For example, Dan and I frequently had to discuss our division of household chores when we first got married. We were both working full-time, but I easily did 75% of the chores. At one point I even waited to see how long I could go without cleaning our bathroom before either Dan cleaned it or I caved. You really don’t want to know the results of that test. It took a lot of work to get where we are now, and we frequently had to revisit the conversation based on changing circumstances.
I know for me, the 60-40 rule can also be a wake-up call for yourself. A few days ago I realized just how over-committed I’ve been this month. I’ve said yes to basically everything–except quality time with my husband. He’s been so loving and patient and helpful with me this month, and I have not prioritized him. If I can recognize that he’s putting forth more effort than I am, even with my bias, then I really need to step up my wifely game.
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Meet Brita Long: Christian feminist blissfully married to Dan Fleck for almost two years. Lover of Paris, pink sparkles, sensible shoes, manicures, and books. Fueled by hot tea and mimosas.
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Meet Brianna Campbell: Married to a dashing filmmaker named Clark, mama to our fur-child, Theodore. Blogger, singer/songwriter, and legal assistant. I love Jesus and cold beer. I write about health and wholeness, relationships, and finances. You can usually find me with coffee in hand watching Doctor Who or Friends.
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How do you feel about marriage advice? Have you ever heard of the 60-40 rule? What’s one piece of marriage advice that has actually made a different in your relationship?