the math about marriage

Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife,1 8 and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one. Mark 10:7-8

Tina and Kype

Photo by Michael Metts. All rights reserved.

Lots of free and mostly unwanted relationship advice this time of year.

Like whether or not to get your “work spouse” a Valentine. This seems like a bad idea—both having one and getting them something.

But the article explained how helpful it could be to have someone of the opposite sex at work with which you could talk about job related as well as personal concerns. The danger, apparently, was that this could be come an emotional affair.

Too late. One study shows that two-thirds of workers have, or have had, a “work spouse” — a close co-worker of the opposite sex who shares confidences, loyalties and experiences. 35% of “work spouses” even talk to their work spouse about their sexual relationships with their real spouse.

This is already an emotional affair. And the divorce rate keeps climbing.

I also saw a review of Paula Szuchman’s new book: Spousonomics: Using Economics to Master Love, Marriage, and Dirty Dishes. Her advice? The secret to a happy marriage is do the dishes, put out and don’t talk so much.

She makes some good points. Like don’t wear sweat pants around the house all the time. Don’t nag your spouse too much. Plan ahead. But in the end, it’s social exchange theory. We don’t mind 50/50, Szuchman says. But at some point 60/40 starts to get on our nerves.

Of course social exchange theory does predict how we might negotiate and trade chores, time and even favors. Up to a point. It also explains why we might trade our real spouse for our work spouse.

But ultimately, marriage is not about math, unless we understand how two become one. This isn’t exactly an economic principle. Nor is it a process expedited by having a work spouse, either.

Jesus said this one-flesh unity was the Father’s work and design. If this is so, supernatural help is more necessary than economic strategy.

The transformation into one flesh requires more listening, more sharing and more praying. And more sacrifice. Becoming one is the work of a lifetime. Nothing easy about it. Or simple.

You drink out of your own cistern. You delight yourself in the wife of your youth. You invest your time, energy and strength in your marriage, guarding your heart and keeping your promises.

Even “putting out,” as Szuchman puts it, can be a manipulation, a bargaining chip. It should be a gift we give each other. One of many.

As I’ve written elsewhere, “the wonder of this one flesh union, the joy of it, the glory of it, the pain of it, these are all gifts. We hold them lightly and treasure them more, so awed by their fragile beauty as to protect and cherish them in every way.”

It’s more than a bargain.

It’s a blessing.

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About wally metts

Wally Metts is the daysman. He is director of graduate studies in communication at Spring Arbor University and is a pastor at Countryside Bible Church in Jonesville, MI. The father of four adult children, he and his wife Katie raise barn cats and Christmas trees in Michigan. His grandchildren call him Santa.

11 Responses to “the math about marriage”

  1. Beautifully said.

  2. Love this. Thank you for taking the time to post such pertinent and inspirational information when many couples are struggling with situations like these in today’s culture.

  3. Very true. Traditional get-ahead math does not work because it is based on selfishness, which is a recipe for a failed marriage. Rather, it should make you happy when your spouse is happy – which means you have more to gain from being 60/40 than 40/60.

  4. Love that advice from Paula though!

  5. It feels so easy for me and my husband to have a happy marriage ‘cuz we are blessed with both my parents and his parents have a happy (and life long) marriage. I will not take that for granted. Our parents have taught and gave us so much examples. I would like to pass that on to my children also.
    Thanks for this beautiful post :).

  6. This is a wonderful reminder! Concerning yourselves with each other’s well-being, guarding your heart… Much more eloquent than my Valentine Manure post. But I agree with you 100%. Still counting my blessings after thirty-two years of marriage!

  7. Wonderful post! 🙂 Dayman–wish more people were as like minded as you!

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