If You Expect Your Relationship To Be Fair, You're Doomed —​ Here's Why

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Should marriage be equal

What the happiest people know about love, that you'd never expect.

Modern relationships are more equal than ever—and that’s a wonderful thing. 

Men no longer have the sole burden of being the breadwinner, and women are no longer the sole masters of the domestic.

But with that comes a challenging expectation: the notion that every task and responsibility should be divided half-and-half.

You probably think, like most people, that for a marriage to work, things must be 50-50, and everything to be fair and balanced all the time.

Not only doesn’t that work — it is not the best way to create and maintain a successful relationship.

Here are 4 reasons why expecting fairness will ruin your marriage or long-term relationship:


1. Measuring your contribution against your partner’s based on how you would do the task pits you against them. 


With this measurement, your partner will almost always come up short, leading to a sense of disappointment or even conflict.

For example, if you have very distinct standards about how the dishes should be loaded into the dishwasher or how the laundry should be folded.

When these ideas are different than your partner’s, you may feel like he or she is doing it “wrong”  leading your partner to react defensively.

And then there may even be a fight.

Would you rather be right or would you rather be happy?

That’s the choice.

2. The expectation of a relationship being equal or 50-50 gets in the way of being flexible.


Without flexibility and openness, new and creative solutions cannot be accomplished.

On top of that, trying to keep things totally 50-50 blocks at least one partner's willingness to jump in and contribute to the relationship when needed.

Circumstances change continually in a relationship, and you may not be realistic about where you and your partner are in your life at the moment.

For example, when you are expecting a baby, you can’t be 50-50 about being pregnant!

Each person has their unique contribution to make.  

If you are the expectant father, your wife is carrying the baby, and you carry the groceries!

3. You can't truly operate as a team. 


The commitment to the relationship as a team —  working together and contributing to the good of the whole  is blocked when you have to keep score.

You don’t give everything you can because you are too busy measuring what percentage your partner is giving. You are not “all in” for the relationship.

Think about it like you and your partner are rowing in a boat together: You agree on the direction you are going, and you are fine no matter how much each of you is contributing to keeping the boat afloat.

You don’t stop and evaluate if it is 50-50!

That would slow you down, and take away from the enjoyment of sharing the experience together.

4. You spend all your time trying to compromise — which just doesn't work.


Compromise is a deficit model: Someone is always ahead and someone is behind.

You feel like you have to give something up to get something.

This way of operating will create resentment somewhere down the line.

When we were first sharing a home,  we tried to divide the household chores exactly evenly. We each compromised to do something we didn’t want to really do and both felt resentful about how much we were doing compared to the other.

We tried “weighting” the value of the tasks, but that didn’t work for long either.  

Eventually, we agreed that it wouldn’t break the bank to get some outside cleaning help for the good of the whole, even though one of us had been resisting that.

After that, we were able to keep up with the chores without strict guidelines and without resentment.

As you can begin to see, it’s all about attitude and committing to cooperate until both partners get what they want. You can think about accommodating or “giving in” as a gift rather than a defeat.

Life is not really fair at any given moment.

A good relationship is more than how much you do. It is about what is possible when you are being generous to each other.

Easier said than done, right?


Here’s a way to get started: Begin by asking for what you need, making clear requests, and keeping agreements.

This requires being aware of when you’re compromising and when you’re really cooperating.

It is not necessarily easy to learn to cooperate as a team, but once you do, you will feel closer to your partner and bring more joy into your lives.


To learn more about how to cooperate with your partner and work together powerfully as a team, see our book Lifelong Love: 4 Steps To Creating and Maintaining An Extraordinary Relationship or go to our website www.couplepower.com