When two people get married, they have expectations of how the relationship should work. Often, the unspoken assumption is, “My spouse will meet me halfway.” Sometimes it’s called “The 50/50 Plan.” When the husband and wife operate on this pattern, it’s easy for it to spread to other members of the family too.

The 50/50 Plan says, “You do your part, and I’ll do mine.” This concept sounds logical, but families who use it are destined for disappointment.

Among the problems with the 50/50 Plan is that giving is based on merit and performance. We focus more on what the other person is giving than on what we are doing. Love is withheld until the other person meets our expectations. Since this way of measuring out our love is subjective, the motivation for our actions is based merely on how we feel. It’s impossible to ever know if a person has ever met you halfway. As Thomas Fuller said, “Each horse thinks his pack is heaviest.”

Many people try this plan. A husband may give affection only when he feels his wife had earned it by keeping the house running smoothly. A wife may show affection and praise her husband only when he holds up his end by getting home on time and keeping the house in a reasonable state of repair.

Contrast this with the type of love God shows for us. You might say that, no matter what we do, he gives us 100 percent, even when we don’t deserve it. “God demonstrates his own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

Perhaps couples could adopt the 100/100 Plan in marriage. Under this plan, each person gives 100 percent no matter what the other person does.