When I was younger, my mom would pour my brother and I a glass of pop. It was very important to us that each glass had an equal amount. After she was done, my brother and I would set the glasses down side by side and bend down so we could view them at eye level to make sure they were equal.
Not a lot has changed since then. In our culture, we continually strive for equality. In some areas, it’s necessary—but not in marriage. Blogger Lauren Fortenberry wrote that there is no true equality in marriage. She had this revelation after she left her full-time job to stay home. She says that her family’s transition to a one-income household was significant. She and her husband found it was the only way they could find any balance in their life while taking care of two small children. It also meant a major mental adjustment for Fortenberry. She was grappling with the fact that she was no longer contributing equally to her family’s income even though she felt like her family was becoming more stable than they’d ever been.
I know many couples, including my wife and I, have felt the same way about equality at certain times in their marriage. It’s especially noticeable when a couple makes the decision that one of them should quit their job and stay home with the children. Both spouses start to feel the tug of things being unequal, but that’s true even when both spouses are working.
To suggest a marriage is not made up of equals is almost forbidden these days, but we have to be careful about what we mean by “equal.” Of course, each person is equal in worth and equally important to the relationship. However, that doesn’t translate to each person having to do everything the other person does or needing to contribute equally in every area. As Fortenberry points out about her marriage, “We didn’t change the exact same number of diapers. We can’t divide household tasks 50/50 because duties and needs adjust. We won’t contribute the same dollar amount each month.”
As spouses, we have to quit trying so hard to make everything equal. We need to do a better job of taking the strengths we each have to offer and using them to bolster our marriage relationship together. Of course, spouses should not take advantage of each other or feel like their self-worth is defined by whether or not they can do exactly everything their partner can do.
So, what matters is not that you can each do everything equally but that you each feel you are contributing in important ways in your relationship. Only you and your spouse can define those parameters in your marriage. Don’t be swayed by public opinion or what your friends think. Do what is best for your marriage and ignore the rest.