We all strive for equality in our lives. We look for it at work, we demand it in our classrooms and we ask for it in relationships. Gender equality, race equality and opportunity equality for all. The search is always there. The need for it is relentless, and should be. This article examines the equality that we look for in couples’ relationships. The couple can consist of any type. This particular examination reflects in every single relationship without any barriers, not age, not gender differences (or sameness) or even race. This is about who puts in the effort in the relationship and what that efforts means and how it plays out into the dynamic of the couple.

I spent some time researching couples that were on the brink of divorce. Divorce because of overwhelming work stresses, infidelities’, money problems and sexual issues in the bedroom. 90% of these relationships examined made it through the trauma and survived to be happier than they were before the stress came into their lives. I found that that there were two commonalities in each of these couples that made it through.

The first one was their sense of commitment. Each person in the relationship had the same level of commitment as the other. They both had strong values that were ingrained from their own family dynamic (their parents were still together) of their childhood or something else that bound them together. They both took the commitment of the marriage seriously even if there was a break in trust and fidelity. Each person wanted the resilience of the commitment of marriage. Each one wanted to make it work above anything else. Each one wanted to do whatever it would take to honor their commitment.

The other common thread between these couple was the effort. These couples survived because they each made the effort to change how they operate within the confines of the relationship. They each vowed to put forth a strong effort to see things in a different light, and the other person’s perspective. They each wanted the other person to know that their effort was just as important as the other person’s effort to make things work. Each person wanted nothing more than to give 100% of themselves to help the other feel loved, cherished and adored.

I raise these two remarkable traits because I see a very real correlation between how the relationship effort is played out between each person and the success of the relationship. I have also come to understand that relationships do fail despite the love that might still exist between couples. As I understand it, one of the reasons why a relationship will make it through a tremendous hardship while another one won’t all boils down to the effort dynamic. Both people have to put in the same amount of effort or it won’t work. Equality in relationship is just that, EFFORT.

100% means that no matter how you arrange the effort between two people, if it isn’t balanced, it won’t work. Each person can only take responsibility for 50% of the relationship regardless of how much they think they can assume. A person who gives 90% to compensate for someone else’s lack of effort will only affect 50% of the relationship. The effort dynamic illustrates that each person has to put in relatively equal amounts of effort in the relationship for it to flourish and renew through a crisis. This of course applies in all relationships, crisis or no crisis. The effort dynamic represents equality in the relationship.

It is unrealistic to expect that each person in the relationship will apply 100% effort, 100% of the time. In fact, statistics indicate that there is a natural ebb and flow to a relationship life cycle that allows for brief periods of time where both individuals either carry their partner or they are the one being carried. The natural ebb and flow of relationships is part of the effort dynamic, in the sense that as long as each person in the relationship has an overall commitment to carry their own weight throughout the life of the relationship there is no inequality. Time is the balance, and the commitment is the path that the couple will rely on, in order to move forward together. The perceived inequality (one person putting in 25% and the other putting in 75%) that plays out in a relationship can breed resentment, anger and unhappiness.

The effort dynamic is a simple but extremely important concept. It is an incredible eye-opener to understand and realize that no matter how much effort you put into your relationship, it is only 50% and you can’t do it alone.

Author's Bio: 

Sarah was born in Boston, MA, raised in New York City and graduated from the University of Connecticut with two degrees. She obtained her degrees in Communications and Psychology. Through her own personal tragedies and struggles Sarah married young and had two beautiful girls. Even though her marriage failed, her devotion to her graduate education and her girls was unsurpassed. With her Masters in Business Administration (MBA) in analyzing foreign markets, and a new career opportunity in MD, she moved to MD where she met and fell in love with Enrique. Today, Sarah lives in Maryland with her husband and their children, researching, writing and publishing articles and books.