the secret of happy couples

What is the secret to a happy marriage? Nate and Kaley Klemp have conducted a study with hundreds of couples and say that equality in marriage only leads to an unsatisfactory commitment, while the 80/80 model is the key to a lasting relationship.

Nate and Kaley Klemp have been successful in their careers as consultants for large American companies. However, their work as leadership experts was often relegated to the background when they returned home in the evening. Most of the time there was talk of family life, and the same point of contention, claimed by both, continued to arise: that of the equality of the spouses. Like many couples, Nate and Kaley believed in a model where both spouses contribute equally. In reality, however, they saw that the ideal balance was almost impossible to achieve. From this frustration, the idea of ​​the so-called “80/80” marriage model was born, a model that balances marriage, family and career and that they expose in their book. The Marriage 80/80 (The Marriage 80/80).

From more than a hundred interviews with couples from all walks of life, Nate and Kaley identify what really doesn’t work in married life. They ask a question: Is the key to a happy and lasting relationship really sharing tasks between industries alike? This is his answer: the principle of systematic equality only leads to an unsatisfactory compromise. Therefore, they propose a new model of marital relations based on radical generosity.

50/50: An unsatisfactory commitment

“The daily battle for justice is almost over with our marriage,” Nate and Kaley confide in the introduction to their book. “The amount of time and energy we spent discussing who did more and who did less was excessive,” they write. That is why they wanted to analyze the matter in depth, with a serious investigation.

The researchers say that all respondents were unanimous in saying that they often felt exhausted by daily life and the need to try to reconcile marriage with fatherhood / motherhood, as well as having to take care of older parents and work. Almost everyone said that the pressure of everyday life weighed heavily on their relationship. There were couples who seemed to have a perfect marriage, those who were going through a crisis and others who had recently divorced. “We tried to be perfect couples, trying to keep up with the dizzying pace of life. And we still dream of equality, ”said one of the couples interviewed by the study’s authors.


“The result? It’s because of the dream of so-called egalitarian sharing that couples argue. And as time goes on, the tension increases. As the stress increases, the marriage battle becomes more and more toxic. as people move away, “say researchers. Paradoxically, the dominant model “50/50” pits the spouses against each other, in an attempt to outdo each other in terms of discussion rather than encouraging them to make an effort in their married life. familiar. At the heart of the “50/50” principle is actually a mindset that could be symbolized by the phrase “When you win, I lose.” It works very well in business or individual sport, where the goal is to compete with rivals to win. In marriage, however, it is a disaster, the authors explain in the book. As a result, this competitive approach leads to resentment, which eventually takes the place of love.

For Nate and Kaley Klemp, the “50/50” model leads to a constant comparison of the efforts of others, which is summed up in a kind of marker: who does more, who has more work, who plans things, who takes care of the children, who take advantage of the work to stay at home with a sick child … How do you find out what is right? It seems difficult. And here the couple of researchers draws an idea for a sustainable couple: the “80/80” model.

80/80: radical generosity

What is the 80/80 model? If this mathematical equation is impossible, in marriage it is quite feasible. “The only way to get rid of the pressure of equitable sharing in the relationship is to aim for something that is much bigger and more radical,” the researchers say.

The motto of the 80/80 model? “When you win, I win too.” Moving from a 50/50 model to an 80/80 model means replacing the pursuit of justice with radical generosity. It means striving 80% to put common goals ahead of one’s own, or to move from the “I” to the “us,” that is, from individual success to common success.


When the couple synchronizes like this, they become creative and productive with a stronger sense of intimacy, Nate and Kaley say. In choosing this model 80/80 of radical generosity, the spouses stop wasting energy on useless discussions, in which each tries to assert his point of view. Instead, they focus on common goals that make them better: raising children, achieving financial stability, having constructive plans, and caring for each other. Then the spouse becomes a teammate and friend whose goal is not to be right, but to support, love, and help the other.

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