50/50 relationships: a thing of the past

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Close up of two individuals holding hands in a car with a blurred stereo in the background
Someone call Instagram and let them know they lost another cheesy couple photo octavio fossati via unsplash

Throw your idea of “fair” out the window – we want balance 

When we think about relationships, oftentimes we think of partnerships between two individuals who are in a 50/50 agreement. I am here to tell you that this is not how things are nor how they should be. To assume that every day is going to work out to a 50/50 type of agreement is not something that is – or has ever been – practical.

One of the first things to consider is how we classify the work that must get done in a day and what each party is responsible for in order for it to be considered a fair 50/50 agreement. Does this mean that if one person cooks breakfast than the other is responsible for dinner? What do you do on weekends when you have three meals to take care of? Many couples will often trade cooking for cleaning but is that something that can be considered an equal trade? Often there is more than just dishes that need to be cleaned in a day. The list goes on, and how each couple chooses to split that in a way that they deem fair and equitable will look different.

Moving past that, you must then take into consideration that the unwritten agreements of the relationship are often decided when each individual is at a neutral point in their lives. These types of things are not decided when a significant loss or hardship is being faced by one or both individuals involved in the relationship. Everyone reacts to the same situation in different ways. This means that what works during one hardship may not work for the next one and so on. What are you supposed to do during these periods if you are still under the expectation that the relationship will be 50/50? Besides becoming extremely disappointed and frustrated, nothing else will come forth if you are under the impression that your partner will be able to perform their regular household duties when they are not at their neutral place.

Now that we know what does not work, how can we move forward to frame this in a way that works better? Step one is to throw out the idea of 50/50 anything. Nothing is ever truly 50/50 and nothing ever will be which means you better delete that idea from your brain before you become too attached to it. To avoid pointless frustration with your partner, accept that things will not be equal because you each have your own strengths and weaknesses. You are together to support and complement each other which does not mean splitting everything right down the middle.

Step two is to reframe the way in which we think about how things “should work” in a relationship. There is no such thing as a standard relationship – it involves finding what works for you and who you are with. The point is not to give 50 per cent individually but rather to give 100 per cent together. This is something that must be worked on day by day as you will never be fortunate enough to have the same outcome everyday.

Before entering a relationship, it is important to understand that there are days that you will be giving 80 per cent because all your partner can manage is 20 per cent for a variety of potential reasons. You must be okay with this reality, or you should reconsider entering into any partnership to begin with. Life is hard and there is no reason why we must face these hard things on our own. You don’t get to make those hard things worse by getting upset at your partner for taking care of their basic needs.

Aside from the doom and gloom that may arise when facing these challenges, it is time for the most important thing to remember, step three: enjoy your partner and cherish the relationship in all its aspects. Even though things can be hard, it will not be hard forever which is extremely important to remember. Rough patches will pass, and you will come out stronger on the other side, it is just a matter of getting to that other side.

At the end of the day, you will not care who emptied the dishwasher three months ago on a rainy Tuesday, who did the grocery run last month or which one of you mowed the lawn last. What you will remember is who made you soup when you were too sick to move or who was there holding you while you were grieving a loss. Being present and able to accept that not everything will get done all the time are the most important things to consider when entering into a relationship. The garbage will be there tomorrow, and the laundry can wait an extra day if that means that your partner feels emotionally and mentally supported by other actions that you are doing.

Life is hard, there is no denying that. Why do we insist on making it so much harder than it needs to be by complicating our relationships in the process? Accept the flaws and embrace the good times. Do not settle for less than what you need, and be prepared to provide your partner with what they will need as well. Relationships can be considered business transactions with feelings attached to the conditions. Learn to live with the needs of your partner or go buy a cat.

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