Win-Win, 100-100, and the All-In Marriage

What would your marriage be like if both of you threw out the scorecards? What if you were both one hundred percent in, putting everything you have and everything you are into your marriage?

The 50/50 marriage paradigm, held up by many as the “ideal” marriage, says that everything should be divided right down the middle. A husband and wife are to carefully keep score so that working, cooking, cleaning, finances, child-rearing comes out even. You have your half, and I have mine as if running parallel lives that minimally intersect. To those with this view, fairness means sameness. They would have you measure your spouse’s 50 percent carefully and often, fight for your rights and for what you are owed, and make sure that you get back in a measure equal to whatever you give (and if you can get a little more than that, so much the better).

The 50/50 marriage paradigm is a zero-sum mentality. It’s a poverty mindset that assumes everything needed to sustain a marriage is limited and fixed. Ultimately a zero-sum view means that if you win, I lose and vice-versa.

Those who look at their marriage as a zero-sum game tend not to concern themselves with how to grow themselves or grow their marriage. Instead, they try to figure out how to fairly divide what is. Zero-sum assumes there is never more available than what we have today. Equality and fairness become the criteria by which marriage success is measured. In the battle to make everything “fair,” you both end up with less.

100-100 and the Bridal Paradigm

If our model for marriage is Jesus and the church, then the 50-50 marriage model really is not the right one for a Christian marriage or for anyone who wants a thriving marriage.

Consider how Jesus gave 100 percent. He gave his life to have us 100 percent. He gave all of himself to us and wants us to give all to him. He showed us the way of perfect love: all in, one hundred percent, nothing held back. And though he wants us to surrender all to him in response, he still chose to sacrifice even for those who would reject him.

What would your marriage be like if both of you threw out the scorecards? What if you were both one hundred percent in, putting everything you have and everything you are into your marriage?

What if you went the way of reckless love? What if instead of equity and fairness as the measure of your marriage, you used the love of Jesus?

Now to be clear, 100-100 is the ideal we strive for, but there will be times when things are more like 100-20, where one of you has to “fill the gap” left by the other. There will be times when you are 65-15 when both of you are struggling, and being “all in” is a temporarily unreachable goal. That’s just real life.

As long as 100-100 remains the paradigm you have in your hearts, there is grace for the times when one or both of you falls short of being “all in.”

What if you used your degree of surrender as the yardstick? What tis a surrendered marriage?

A surrendered marriage calls us to surrender self. It means living selflessly and self-sacrificing instead of living self-centered and self-satisfying. It means living against our human nature because our natural path is the path of self. Rather than focusing on the question of “what are my rights?” and “what do I get out of this marriage?” we are instead to focus on “what can I give to benefit and bless my spouse?” and “What can I do to strengthen our marriage?”

When surrender is the way you measure your marriage, intimacy becomes the main goal. Full surrender to one another means each of you allows yourself to be completely known by the other, and each of you lavishes love and grace on the other in response to that deep knowing.

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Being One Changes the Whole Game

There is one other important biblical concept that greatly influences the mathematics of marriage: being one flesh.

When a man and woman are joined together before God and man in holy matrimony, the Bible says they become “one flesh.” They are one in every dimension: sexual, spiritual, emotional, financial – every dimension. You are one, so why not live like it and enjoy all the benefits of your oneness.

suggested postWhat if You Are Already One?

Now let me remind you that being one does NOT mean being the same! That’s 50-50 thinking. Being one actually means adding strength to strength and allowing strength to cover for weakness. It means coming together in a way that makes your marriage more than either of you as individuals. You don’t lose your individuality. Rather, you bring your full, genuine self to your relationship for the benefit of your spouse and your marriage.

Marriage is not a zero sum game, so don’t settle for a 50-50 marriage – go for 100-100!

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