Attempting to achieve absolute equality, or going 50-50, in a marriage may be a good way to pick a fight about whose turn it is to change the baby’s diaper, but it’s not the best way to maintain a healthy relationship.

As important as it is for husbands and wives to carry their own weight, going pound-for-pound is a good way for people get hurt. And while the intent it to support each other, too often it becomes about keeping score. The 50-50 marriage is a fallacy and a trap that stems from a combination of traditional and modern marriage expectations.

In reality, the notion of this type of marriage has never really played out in the data, even in more modern egalitarian marriages. Studies demonstrate small decline in housework for work for working moms, and not much of an increase in housework for working dads.

That’s not to say men aren’t doing any housework, and they’ve been particularly amenable to absorbing cooking and care-taking roles. But they have not been assuming every chore or doing it at the same rate. Unpaid labor in the home is often devalued, and some men struggle with that more than others.

Of course, the pursuit of an equitable marriage in itself, is not a bad thing. Perhaps part of the reason the myth of the 50-50 marriage lives on is that the division of labor in a marriage is vital. The strongest marriages seem to accept that the equation changes by the day, and sometimes by the hour, and is open to negotiation. It’s likely never going to land on 50 percent a piece.

The main risk couples run into in the pursuit of a 50-50 relationship is replacing competition for communication, couples trying to obtain a 50-50 balance in roles and responsibilities can lead very quickly to the highly toxic elements of resentment and negativity because it’s too competitive, on the surface it does seem like a good idea, but it can really be a stumbling block for couples.

Ultimately, even if a 50-50 marriage were attainable it would not be worth it because it would make marriages extremely vulnerable to change, Goodman and Santan agree. When someone gets sick or loses a job, strong and healthy marriages can bend, while 50-50 marriages are far more likely to break.

The way you divide your labor can always change and should if your circumstance change. Couples should consistently check in with one another about their division of labor and make sure it’s fair and reasonable for both parties.

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