On Brene’ Brown’s “Marriage is never 50/50” Discussion

July 24, 2023

I bet many of you have already seen the recent Brene’ Brown video making the rounds where she calls out the myth of marriage being a 50/50 partnership.

It’s less than a minute long and it’s good. If you haven’t seen it, watch it here.

Growing up, I was always told that a good marriage is 100/100, meaning both partners should bring their 100% best all the time. For others, you may have heard marriage should be a 50/50 thing and each of you split everything equally. Both ideas sound good, right?

Being true partners

While both schools of thought might sound good, rarely is either the reality. How much we can each bring on any given day is different. Some days we have more than enough to give and other days we just don’t have it. We don’t have the emotional resources or the reserves to bring our best self or contribute our fair share.

I see a lot of couples and I see this play out often. One of the common struggles is negotiating through things like child care, house work, and all the emotional stuff that goes on in a relationship so that one partner is not feeling overburdened. It is a legitimate concern for a lot of you. Some of us regularly take on far too much as our share and some take on far too little, and the partnership leaves at least one you feeling resentful.

I love Brene’s approach to this dilemma. She and her spouse TALK ABOUT IT. They come together and say, “Hey, you know what, today I don’t have my 50%.” Or, “I can pull 80% today and you take the time that you need to decompress.”

Learning to negotiate and navigate through the times when you aren’t both able to bring your best selves to the relationship is such an important skill for a healthy marriage, and it’s a great example of really partnering with each other. When you can say to each other, “This is where I’m at. I need a little bit more from you today than I can give today,” you can get through just about anything.

It also means you have each other’s backs. If the person you love is tired or struggling, you can step in and compensate for them at that moment. There’s a responsibility – whether it be for the kids or for the home – and both of you are equally accountable for making sure that the bare necessities and the minimums are taken care of. If your spouse can’t bring it that day, you are stepping forward to bring it. I love that rather than this kind of siloed, patriarchal view of ‘I’m the man. I work outside the home. You’re the woman, you work inside the home’ and never the twain shall meet. That model may still work for some, but in today’s age where roles have shifted and many of you are in families where both of you work outside the home, your partnership at home has to shift too.

Brene’s approach is the truest sense of partnering. You learn to negotiate and strategize solutions. You keep the lines of communication open so you are each constantly aware of where the other is emotionally and physically. They’re tired. You’ve got more stress going on from an outside source. Maybe one or both of you is struggling with some emotional feelings. You talk about it and come up with a plan for the day. Or for the week.

Asking for help

Now, some of us have a really hard time asking for help, or receiving help, especially from our partners. Having these conversations will bring you to a really healthier place of being able to say, I need something today. I need some assistance. It also gives your partner the opportunity to have your back and jump in there and give that to you.

And if both of you are depleted at any particular time – and that happens – you sit down and you talk about it. Maybe it’s okay that dinner’s not on the table tonight and everybody fends for themselves. At my house we call that “house catch”, which is whatever you can find in the house to eat, is what you eat. Kids don’t typically love catch days, but some days you have to have them. If you discuss and prioritize together, no one is sitting over to the side feeling resentful or wondering when the other is going to step it up or get it done.

Staying married in today’s world requires intentionality and a commitment to stay together. I’m happy and proud of all of you that are always striving to have better relationships and are actively working to make sure your marriage is the best and healthiest it can be.


How healthy is your marriage?

ready to have a conversation?

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