When we were first married, Belinda and I tried to be fair in our division of household duties and chores. We tried to live a marriage of equals. Our goal was to make every situation a win-win situation. As time went on, however, we found it increasingly difficult to live out in real life the ideal scenario we had imagined for ourselves.
We had bought into believing the myth that marriage is a 50/50 proposition. The underlying message to this motto is: I’ll give 50 percent, if you give 50 percent. One hand washes the other. I’ll scratch your back, if you scratch mine.
With this kind of attitude in our marriage, we were always trying to keep score: I’ll do my part, if you do yours. I’ll meet you halfway, if you meet me halfway. I’ll keep my end of the bargain, if you keep yours.
This way of thinking reinforces the mind-set of marriage as a contract. According to the terms of a contract, each party has certain rights and responsibilities. If either party fails to keep his or her part of the deal, the agreement becomes null and void, and neither party is obligated to live up to the terms. That way, if things don’t work out, either party can escape the obligations of the marriage and move on.
Eventually we learned the Christian concept that marriage is viewed as being more than a contract: Marriage is a covenant; with root concepts of commitment, sacrifice and fidelity. We make a commitment to love each other for a lifetime. We promise to sacrifice our own wants and needs in favor of the wants and needs of the other. We remain forever faithful to the vows we pledged on our wedding day.
How is this possible? Only by the grace of God.