Fifty Fifty

When I catch myself feeling entitled to anything, I remind myself of a favorite quote:

Why spend your life gathering possessions so that you can be treated like an invalid?

It takes deep self-confidence to resist the trap of replacing self-love with being served by others, or gathering possessions. The West is known as a consumer society, with endless association between ownership and happiness via the media. On the other hand, having lived in Asia, relying on cheap labor for personal happiness (or corporate profits) can be equally dangerous.

Simplicity and self-sufficiency work for me. However, managing a house with three young kids, I’ve found myself relying more and more on outside assistance to create space in my life. I tell myself that it is a temporary situation; time will tell if that is true.


Many couples have a desire for relationships to be 50:50, right down the middle, a true partnership… I would recommend caution with elevating fairness in a relationship, it’s going to be there without making it a stated goal. 

Far better, is to have a goal of supporting your family members to achieve their own definition of personal happiness. This avoids common pitfalls of ensuring fairness.

#1 is counting – if you’re seeking to ensure 50:50 living then you need to keep score, a lot. Rather than splitting things down the middle, we seek to create a routine and let each of us specialize in what is required to run the family. Routine and specialization. This eliminates frequent negotiation and counting – both add little value and drain productivity.

#2 is control – if I’m going to keep track of everything you do (to ensure fairness) then I’m going to have to keep an eye on you! Another waste of time and you’re setting yourself up for disaster if kids arrive. When children arrive, you’re likely to find that your optimal solution is to reduce the time that you’re together. 

For example, the fatigue I feel from our four year old is not reduced when my wife and I spend time with her together. In fact, it is increased (!) because I’m watching fatigue flow into my wife.

In a healthy relationship much of what your partner does will be hidden from view. So an equitable relationship implies both parties constantly doing (what appears to be) more than their fair share. 

I remind myself that if things appear balanced then I need to do more. 

If things appear comfortable then I need to do WAY more!