Marriage and the 50/50 Myth


American Sprinter Manteo Mitchell heard a pop. “It felt like somebody literally just snapped my leg in half,” he said. It was the 2012 Olympics, and he had 200 meters to go in the first round of the 4 x 400-meter relay preliminaries. He limped the rest of the way, and the U.S. team qualified for the finals. The cause of the pop? A broken femur. [Huffington]

It is easy to praise Mitchell for his perseverance in his sport. But when it comes to marriage, why is it so easy to quit? At the first sign of difficulty, quitting is the preferred, even the glorified answer. It’s because so many of us adopt the 50/50, “meet-me-halfway” myth into our relationships. Author Dennis Rainey, president of FamilyLife, a non-profit offering resources to build strong marriages and families, gives some insight. In his book, Starting Your Marriage Right, Rainey suggests four reasons why the 50/50 plan is destined to fail.

1. “Acceptance is based on performance.” Without realizing it, many individuals put stipulations and prerequisites on their “love” of their spouse. In this video by FamilyLife, we realize that most of us are drawn to marriage not to love, honor, and cherish. Instead, we get married so we can finally have someone to love, honor and cherish us.

2. “Giving is based on merit.” With the 50/50 mindset, a husband would only lavish his wife with affection when he felt she had deserved it. In turn, a wife would praise her husband only when she felt he had deserved it.

3. “Motivation for action is based on how each partner feels.” It’s easy to sacrifice for someone to whom you feel romantically attached. But what happens when feelings fade (as they are bound to)? The 50/50 myth tells us “you owe it to yourself” to end the marriage, and find someone who will give you those romantic feelings once again.

4. “Rejection is based on focusing on weaknesses.” The “meet-me-halfway” approach to relationships leaves too much room to focus on how the other person is neglecting their “half.” Both spouses are always falling behind because each spouse defines the midpoint differently. “A person who says, ‘I’ll meet you halfway’ is a poor judge of distance,” says Dr. Michael Easley, Pastor of Fellowship Nashville Church.


In the recently released movie, Love, Wedding, Marriage, Ava (Mandy Moore) is a marriage counselor who is devastated when her parents decide to get a divorce, caused by an affair. Ava immerses herself in reconciling her parents, as her own marriage with newlywed husband Charlie (Kellan Lutz) enters its own downward spiral. When Ava loses hope in her marriage, her father offers her a tidbit that he once learned from Charlie, a devoted vineyard-keeper.

“[Charlie] told me once that when the grapes are grown, the winemakers purposely stress them out by depriving them of water and giving them an overabundance of sunshine. This weeds out the weak ones and only the strongest and best survive. And those are the grapes that make the finest wine. Now, the greatest love survives the harshest conditions. And surviving that turmoil is what makes a marriage strong.”

Resources:Starting Your Marriage Right, Dennis & Barbara Rainey

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