Marriage Advice From A Christian Perspective
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The Trouble with the "50/50 Plan"

  • Dennis Rainey Executive Director of FamilyLife Ministries
  • 2002 19 Nov
The Trouble with the "50/50 Plan"

"But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8

When two people get married, they have expectations of how the relationship should work. Often, the unspoken assumption is that "My spouse will meet me halfway." Sometimes it's called "The 50/50 Plan." When the husband and wife operate on this pattern, it's easy for it to spread to other members of the family. The "50/50 Plan" says, "You do your part, and I'll do mine." This concept sounds logical, but families who use it are destined for disappointment.

Among the problems with "The 50/50 Plan" is that giving is based on merit and performance. We focus more on what the other person is giving than on what we are doing. Love is withheld until the other person meets our expectations. Since this way of measuring out our love is subjective, the motivation for our actions is based merely on how we feel.

It's impossible to ever know if a person has ever met you halfway. As Thomas Fuller said, "Each horse thinks his pack is heaviest."

Early in our marriage we tried this plan. I would give affection to Barbara only when I felt she had earned it by keeping the house running smoothly. Barbara would show me affection and praise only when I would hold up my end by getting home on time, keeping the house in a reasonable state of repair, or working in her garden.

Contrast this with the type of love God shows for us. You might say that, no matter what we do, He gives us 100 percent. As Romans 5:8 shows, He gives us love even when we don't deserve it.

I propose that couples adopt "The 100/100 Plan" in marriage. Under this plan, each person gives 100 percent no matter what the other person does.

Excerpted from Moments Together for Couples by Dennis and Barbara Rainey. Used with permission. Copyright 1995 by Dennis and Barbara Rainey. All rights reserved.

About the author: Dennis Rainey is the executive director of FamilyLife, an organization founded in 1976 with the goal of effectively developing godly families, one home at a time. Parents of six children, Dennis and his wife, Barbara, have written numerous books, including best-sellers Moments Together for Couples and The Questions Book for Marriage Intimacy.