KJ Steele: The One Hundred Percent Fallacy

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You hear it all the time. Marriage is a fifty-fifty proposition. You have to give your one hundred percent. The math in this statement sounds good. But, as a successful relationship philosophy, it’s bound to fail. You might ask why I think that. Putting one hundred percent into a relationship would seem to ensure success, not failure. However, in my experience – and I’ve been married since the Middle Ages – a successful marriage cannot adequately negotiate the roadways of life using this type of mathematical equation as its base.

For one thing, Life’s Path has a few potholes, wash-outs, and rickety bridges to navigate. Sometimes the road ahead will disappear in the fog for one or both partners, the tires beneath them will become flat or possibly fall off all together. And it will be in these inevitable instances that the fifty percent rule will come up short – very short – and the marriage in peril will begin to deconstruct rapidly.

What I’ve observed in my own life and marriage is that the better equation to bring to the marriage table is the one hundred and fifty percent buy-in. Each partner committing themselves one hundred percent and then another fifty percent for those times of overlap when one partner – for whatever reason – comes up short. And there will always be times when one or both partners will come up short of their requisite commitment to the relationship. When this happens, the other partner will by default be required to carry the load of the relationship, holding the marriage together until it can navigate the obstacle that has come its way and begin to move forward again in equal unity.

The one hundred and fifty percent commitment concept can work beautifully to bridge a marriage across life’s inevitable washouts. It is, however, only a helpful tool as long as it doesn’t become a way of life where one partner continually gives more than their share while the other partner makes no effort to improve or change their contribution to the relationship. Such an arrangement would create a highly dysfunctional and lopsided marriage that would not be honoring to either partner.

In my own experience the one hundred and fifty percent rule is without a doubt what ultimately saw my marriage through the shadows of life. Looking back it is very clear to my husband and myself that there were times where his extra effort was the glue that kept us together and other times where the extra effort and commitment was extended from me. Perhaps not every marriage or relationship would benefit from the one hundred and fifty percent rule as its operating base. For my own marriage, it has proved essential.

KJ Steele is the author of two novels, No Story to Tell and The Bird Box, both published by The Story Plant.

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On October 31, 2017
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