The 50% Rule


It is so important to be a giver, not a taker, in marriage. If you can be a giver, you create the conditions for your spouse to be a giver too. That's when good things start to happen.

The 50% rule can help with this. Simply stated, the 50% rule says it is each party's responsibility to be right about 50% of the time. The other side of that coin, obviously, is that it is each party's responsibility to make sure that his or her partner is right 50% of the time, too. This is easier than you might think.

Look for opportunities to do things your partner's way. You don't always have to be right, do you? If her route to the mall is a little bit longer, why comment? If she wants to eat healthy (again!!), just say, "Sounds great." Healthy food is good for you. If he thinks the kids should be able to stay up for a movie, try saying, "That sounds like fun," instead of "but they'll be so tired tomorrow!" If they are tired, they can go to bed early tomorrow night, can't they?

People get so caught up in being right all the time. There is the power factor too -- if you admit your partner is right, or do things his or her way, it feels like you are losing power. Admit it! But marriage just isn't a win-lose situation. Rather, marriage is the ultimate win-win! Your life will be better if your partner is happy. It's that simple. A miserable spouse means a miserable marriage. So stop worrying about who's right, please.

The 50% process does require both partners to understand what's going on. Both parties have to agree to work at this before you start. Because you both have to be trying at the same time. We don't want a dominant partner to take advantage, right? Or a low impact partner to lose even more impact? In reality, it is the partner who has more say-so in the marriage who has to work a little harder at this.

And reinforcement is required. So when you notice your partner letting you be right, or agreeing, be sure to thank them, letting them know you notice. Gotta reinforce the behaviors we like or they will go away!

Also, you have to agree in advance that it is "legal" to point out when the other party is being right more than than their 50%, as well. A mild comment like, "Seems like our 50-50 is getting a little out of balance" can work well, as long as you have agreed in advance that commentary is permitted.

Talk to your partner about this. Try it. Look for opportunities to say, "Sure honey" instead of "Yes, but..." Life has enough conflict and tensions, doesn't it? This is an opportunity to improve the atmosphere in your marriage. And that atmosphere is the air you breathe each and every day.


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Jonathan Sobin, Psy.D



 

 

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