Is marriage a Partnership?

In school the teachers would often say “Find a partner.” when we were going to do some activity. Or if she was more controlling, I mean smarter, she’d pick partners for you so that you wouldn’t pick your best friend and get in trouble when you were supposed to be learning something. That partnering up thing always made me nervous until it was settled. Would I get a partner that I liked? Would I get a partner , period? Friends and social skills were not my strong point, even though I was and still am a friendly person who likes people, I was just shy and insecure and thought no one would want to be my partner, even my ‘friends’ , for no real reason. I was smart and did my share of the work, if not more. I think the real problem was that I didn’t want to be responsible for the outcome and I still have that fear of taking on important responsibilities , fear of doing it wrong. I think that may be related to Imposter Syndrome, which I recently learned about. But that’s another subject.

Today I want to talk about the word PARTNER. In other countries, it’s more common to refer to a person that you are married to , or living with, as a partner. I know some people in the United States do use that term, but they are mostly hipsters on the West or East coast. Only slightly joking. We in America usually say spouse, husband, wife, better half, hubby, or wifey . Maybe that is because in America we don’t really see marriage as a partnership. I was mulling this over and I came to the conclusion that for me, I don’t see my marriage that way.

When I think of the word partner I think of business partner, lab partner, dance partner, and then the word starts to sound weird in my brain. Partner, partner, partner! To me the definition implies that two people are actively working together in the same moment at a singular task, such as running a business with a goal of making it profitable, or performing an experiment or dance. There must be close communication, mutual agreement to the methods and goals, time spent working together on those goals, and the goals must be the main focus of the time.

I don’t think every marriage is like mine, but I know plenty of them are. In my marriage, we each have our own separate roles. He works at a job, fixes things when they break, manages the property and yard,  and provides security in times of danger (rarely). I do everything related to the home and children, manage the bills and planning, handle the child-related crises, healthcare issues for everyone, social calendar, holidays, pets, and counselling everyone. We come together for recreational activities, occasional discussions about issues, occasional home projects, and of course, sex. Do I wish there was more ‘partnering’? Sometimes, but this is what I am used to and I don’t necessarily like change. Sure I could use more help in all of my responsibilities, but he probably feels the same about his jobs. I appreciate that he trusts me in so many areas and it can be much easier to just do the stuff without asking him, although I do try to keep him informed.

The thing that is missing and is a problem, in my opinion, is the mutual agreement on goals and time spent working towards those goals. Both of us are very independent people and we are used to working that way. But I think our children have suffered from this type of  marriage non-partnership. They need to learn that a healthy, happy marriage requires communication and discussion about important topics, such as finances, education, health, goals, plans, etc, not just leave that to one person to figure out and hope that the other person is going to go along. In my case, my husband doesn’t want to discuss these things. But he doesn’t always want to go along either. That puts me in a difficult position of trying to read his mind and trying to please him. We all come to a marriage with personalities, habits, and preferences. But to be a real partnership, we must be ready to adapt and adopt new habits, learn new skills, throw out old ways that no longer apply in a marriage that may have worked in a single life, be less selfish and independent. Even though talking about problems and planning for the future cause stress, they are necessary and for a successful partnership, they are critical.  Now that we are getting older and the kids are growing up and hopefully moving out, we need to brainstorm and make plans, something he’d rather not do. It’s easy for me to just say, what will be, will be, but I know that is not responsible. I need my partner to join me in the discussion.

What do you think? Would you call your marriage a partnership? Why or why not? Did you have to work to make it like that or did you start out that way? Do you think it’s necessary?

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18 comments

  1. After 17 years of marriage, I can say that in some ways it’s like a partnership as we work together in raising our kids. However, it is all based on the Lord bringing us together and making us one, so it is much deeper than that. Helping each other and working together is a big part of it, but if that’s all it becomes, then the love and friendship can grow cold. It definitely took many years to work together smoothly and even now we still have our bumps in the road, but the Lord’s love is at the center of it all and He holds our family together. Marriage is not easy, but it’s worth it! Great post! God bless!

  2. I dislike moving away from ‘husband’ and ‘wife’ or even ‘spouse,’ for using the word ‘partner.’ Besides that; yes, I think that a marriage ought to be a partnership. Everyone works it out differently, and I see the most success in the parties feeling it’s an even distribution.
    Even given all that, connection and love is something to continually work on.

  3. I thin’ it has to be a partnership, but rarely is.one of my friends said the thing he likes most about his current partner is she truly is his partner. Decisions aren’t 100% one way, there’s more give and take and compromise. In my household we have different jobs but the same goals which is why I refer t9 it as a partnership. Good post

    • I don’t think it has to be 100% shared decision making or anything like that. I’m sure every couple has some things that one or the other would rather not discuss or solve and that can cause frustration. When I’m feeling good and strong or the issues are within my expertise, I just handle it all , but sometimes I just need my ‘partner’ to step up a bit more, ya know? And he probably feels the same way when he’s under stress. All in all, we do pretty well.

      • It can’t be shared decision making totally. Some things need to be unilateral. One person usually has a better handle on certain things. I’m a control freak so I only want interaction when I ask

      • Yes, and you wouldn’t marry someone who tried to control you. I’m the same way. But that also means I married someone who is pretty hands off and sometimes I do need help. :p

  4. We have been married for 41 years. It is a partnership but my husband is like yours. He doesn’t want to sit down and write goals, etc. He wants to take it one day at a time and see where it takes us. Marriage is always give and take. It takes work and you have to give a lot to make it work but it is always worth it in the end!

      • Absolutely…nothing easy about it! The turn for our relationship was when I accepted my husband for who he is and quit trying to change him. I then started praising him for his strengths. That allowed him to feel more secure in our relationship and to trust me more!

  5. I don’t know.. like you using the word ‘partnership’ to describe our (my) marriage is rather strange. I certainly don’t think about my marriage in these terms, even after almost 25 years. we share similar roles like you and your husband. Personally, I really do not worry too much about the future, I leave that to my husband, where he goes, I will go; except the Lord calls him home before me; then what will be, will be. I will trust the Lord has a plan for my life after that…I will say my husband likes to talk about the future; I just rarely listen 🙂

    • I trust God , too, but I have seen that life has been a challenge for my mom who was widowed at only 59, with no savings. God has provided a job for her and she’s lacked for nothing , so maybe it hasn’t been too bad , but definitely a learning curve . We are so blessed to have good husbands!

  6. I don’t like the word partnership. That being said, I think it’s important (at least in some regards) for a marriage to be a partnership. How’s that for a bit complicated, lol? We have had to work on the partnership thing. Like you, I tend to just do things the way I think is best. However, my husband, thankfully, wants to be involved and hands on as well. So it has been a learning curve for me to let go of that control (haha, still working on that!!) and let him have a say as well. Because my way isn’t always the best way (hard lesson for me!). There are certain things that we discuss, but then let the other person handle (ie I pay the bills, homeschool the kids, he takes care of a lot of the chores and earns the money). Also, we have our own strengths and weaknesses, that balance each other out, but can be frustrating at the same time 🙂 Marriage is work! And it’s not always sunshine and rainbows, but the storms also bring you closer together. Just my two cents 😉 God Bless!

    • I agree about the storms, at least they have that potential, they can also be destructive. We need God to make the storms a positive thing, I think. Sounds like you have a blessed marriage. 🙂

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