The secret to a happy marriage – the 60/40 rule

wedding_bearsOne of my wisest friends once told me the secret to a happy relationship. We were talking about marriage, but I think it can be applied to any relationship (friendship, other family connection, and even work colleague I guess!).

In a nutshell, the idea is that many people grumble about their partners saying “I do most of the work” (whatever ‘the work’ may be, be it cooking, child care, cleaning, ironing or whatever). They think (in their heads) about all the hard work that they have done (seemingly unnoticed) whilst their partner seems to “never” (or seldom ever) do that particular chore/task etc. This inevitably leads to annoyance and frustration.

The 60/40 rule says that if you *think* you are doing your fair share (50%) of the work, then in fact you’re probably only doing 40%.

  • You are forgetting all the ‘hidden’ things that your partner is doing for you, which have gone unnoticed by you!

A more accurate ‘fair’ system would be if you try to do 60% of the chores/tasks. If you think you are doing 60%, then (probably) you are in fact actually doing about 50% of the work.

  • In other words, if you currently think you are doing about 60% of the chores, then it’s probably currently about fair in your household!

I find that rule very useful anyway, it keeps me sane!

Incidentally, I did a quick Google search on the 60:40 rule for marriage and I found this very interesting idea:

Essentially it says that an alternative 60:40 rule is that BOTH partners should aim to actually do 60% of the work (not just think that they are doing it). By both deliberately “over achieving” for their partner’s benefit, the combined relationship benefits greatly. Smart idea.


5 thoughts on “The secret to a happy marriage – the 60/40 rule

  1. Pingback: How Can I Ease the Transition When My Significant Other Moves In? « Music RSS

  2. Pingback: Ask LH: How Can I Ease The Transition When My Significant Other Moves In? | Lifehacker Australia

  3. I try to think less of the formula and more on the mindset. In order for the relationship itself to grow, for synergy to happen, both have to give more than we take.
    There is no way to clearly measure 50%, and stop and say, “There! I’ve done enough. Now it’s your turn.”
    It’s nice if you can both honestly say, “I’ve done this. I’d be happy to do more.”

    • Marc – you are absolutely correct! Thanks for taking the time to write your thoughts 🙂

      This article was my first ever blog posting. Faced with a ‘blue sky moment’ I didn’t know what to write, so I thought of a chat with my friend that we’d discussed a few times over the past few years. My article was trying to help people work *fairly* in their marriage.
      Afterwards, I did a bit of Googling and was surprised to find a lot of people who have the same view as yourself – the secret to a marriage is to NOT be fair. Instead, the secret is to make things UNfair – aim to do MORE (work/jobs etc.) than they do back to you. That way, you are deliberately be kind to them (not just fair) which naturally will foster love and happiness in your Partner towards yourself.

      Perhaps my blog should have been entitled “The secret to a successful relationship with your flatmate” because all it does is encourage people to be truly fair. That’s the secret to a *business-like* relationship, sure, but there’s no romance in being fair! Mrs Relevant would be the first to tell you that I should inject some more romance into my marriage, and I think that for this to happen I indeed should “give more than I take” from my marriage.

      The great Michal Palin (when talking about his *wonderful* diaries) commented that diaries were great because they showed exactly what he was feeling at the time. This is bound to be different from what he now (30 or so years later) *remembers* he thought at the time. Or to put it another way, when we think back to the past we often think of things with ‘rose tinted glasses’. Looking back at diaries (or blog entries) reminds us that (in fact) we have changed over the years (hopefully for the better).

      With this in mind, I won’t re-write my blog posting to support this updated view of mine, though. Instead I’ll use it as a personal reminder to myself that this was once my view, and now (thanks to people like you) I think better. I *can* improve myself after all!

  4. Dear Roger

    First i would like to say thanks for your blog that made such an impact on the view of relationships. As a pastor of an amazing church in Loranger Louisiana, have had to deal with this very question first in my own relationships, as well as trying to help others that has come to me over the past 12 years of pasturing. Life can teach so many valuable lessons if we could only learn the lesson on the first go around. I wanted to share something that i heard in a young marriage class years ago. The question was asked to what percentage do you put into your marriage (relationships) and so many came up with the 50% each person equally giving. One man of being married for only a short time responded that each should give 100%. This struck a cord with me and made a lot of sense, this mean that i never leave anything on the table there no room for error. This help me to understand only being married for 2 years. I was 18 and my wife was 17 we we got married not having a clue about the journey we had embarked upon together. Now 30 years later i can go back to the spot where i heard a man say you got to give all you got 100% for any relationship to not just to survive but to thrive.

    Mr. Marc

    Thank you sir for your insight and words of wisdom.

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