one hundred percent!
Devin and I are very different… I can have dirty dishes in the sink for days and not think twice about it but can’t stand a dirty tub or one thing out of place in the bathroom, whereas Devin can’t function if there is a dirty cup in the sink. He has even been known to go so far as to hand wash the cup, then machine wash the cup and ultimately find out who left the cup in the sink and why he or she didn’t clean it the moment after use. However, in college he spent an entire semester showering daily in a tub that wouldn’t drain the water, which meant yesterday’s dirty water, was a part of today’s clean shower (boys are gross). As you can see, we are opposites. Dirty cup vs. dirty tub.
One thing we do have in common is perfectionism. We not only want to be the best at everything we do, we also love a good pat on the back telling us we are the best. Therefore, when it came time for this whole “marriage thing” and marriage preparation, we took it VERY seriously. How else would we become perfect at it? We were mentored by our Pastors back in Pittsburgh. We were mentored by a couple at our church in New York. We studied relationship books and DVDs, scheduled weekly “communication” meetings, talked about everything under the son from desired number of kids to desired number of pets and signed up for every pre-marriage council seminar and talk back there was (even weeks AFTER we already married). We wanted the “prefect” marriage, and we had it… for seven days. On day eight, we realized the “perfect marriage” must not exist, BUT thanks to the amazing techniques and communication skills we learned through all of our marriage prep, we have been able to get through life changing events as well as dirty dishes.
A recent conversation with a heartbroken girlfriend reminded me of my favorite relationship concept that we learned from one of our NYC pastors… 100/100.
Six couples humbly and nervously sat in a room waiting for the first pre-marriage seminar to begin. The first thing the Pastor said to us was, “relationships are 50/50 right?” We all shook our heads eagerly in agreement and were excited because we knew the first answer to the first question (maybe this couples council thing wasn’t so bad). “Yes, relationships are 50/50,” we all responded. “No,” he said. “Relationships are 100/100.”
This is a concept I now try to carry with me daily. If each member of a relationship stops looking at his or her part as only half of the equation and instead, starts bringing their ALL to the marriage table, there is very little room for disappointment.
Let me explain.
50/50 would be me saying: Today I’ll put my cup in the dishwasher, but tomorrow I can leave it in the sink. Because today I did what makes him happy, tomorrow I’ll do what makes me happy. However, all that really does is make him happy today but annoyed tomorrow. This obviously makes for a less than perfect marriage (especially when we are talking about much more than dirty cups).
Now enter the 100/100 concept: Instead of only considering my partner 50% of the time, I will now put my dish in the sink everyday. I will do this not because it makes me happy, but because I want to aim to serve my partner. I know it makes Devin happy to have a clean kitchen, so I will keep it clean – end of story. I take my desire and needs out of the picture. I now bring 100% to the relationship at all times. While I’m giving 100%, it inspires Devin to also give 100%. He is saying things like, “babe, you can leave the dirty dishes in the sink. I’m happy to do them. I know it doesn’t bother you…” etc. This makes me feel like I don’t have to do the dishes but makes me want to do them because he is being so kind and sweet about it. This behavior then carries on to the bathroom. While I’m cleaning the dishes, he see’s the sacrifice and takes his happiness to the tub. He knows how much it bothers me to have a dirty tub and bathroom, so he then gives his 100% by cleaning the tub. If we take our own personal needs out of the equation and give 100% all the time, you end up creating a gorgeous circle of positivity and a pleasant home where everyone is happy.
Can you imagine the impact you can have on people if you stop thinking everything is 50/50 or thinking, “I’ll serve you only to get something in return?” That attitude will always lead to disappointment.
My heartbroken friend was much more “needy” than her easygoing long distance boyfriend. She needed to be told that she was loved and missed at all times on the phone, whereas he didn’t even need to talk on the phone to know their love exists. I explained to her if she took herself out of the equation and focused 100% on his needs by giving him the time and space he prefers, he would then see how selfless she was being. In return, he would end up calling more often and showing verbal love and affection. This allows them both to get what they want without the “I, I, I, you, you, you, blame, blame, blame” fight that we have all had (one too many times).
Now of course this concept can’t work without communication. It’s important for all parties involved to be aware of the things that make them happy/mad/sad/excited etc. This may also require some individual introspection and soul searching before you approach your partner for a delicate and selfless conversation. One other great trick we learned from our Pastors is when communicating with your partner avoid saying “you did…” instead say “I feel…”. Take the “you” out of it so your partner doesn’t feel attacked but rather just “let in” on how you feel and what makes you feel that way. Less blame and more ownership will always make for a better conversation.
Can you imagine how much less disappointed you would be day in and day out if you relied on yourself instead of others to get “things” done and lived a life of service expecting nothing in return for selfless deeds? It’s this type of unselfish behavior that will ultimately inspire others to want to serve you. Expectations fade away, and when you don’t have expectations, you can’t be disappointed.
Devin and I are constantly amazed at how well the concept of 100/100 works (when we remember to use it that is). When one of us falls off the “100% carousel” and retreats back to 50/50, i.e. doing what makes “me” happy, the carousel literally stops working. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want any part of our relationship to “stop working!”
I love the challenge of trying to be better than my husband at our marriage, and he too loves the challenge of trying to out “marriage” me. This ultimately makes for a better marriage altogether! It’s a win/win situation, and if I do say so myself, as close to “perfection” as one can get. I’ll take a 100% marriage over a 50% marriage any day of the week!