Most of us think relationships should be 50/50. That is, each person should give and take the “same amount.” They should meet in the middle and they should take turns “getting their way” or “leading” the relationship.” We all seem to strive for a relationship that’s equal in every way.

But relationships (and life) usually don’t work that way. Odds are, it’s going to be more like a 80/20 split. One person will get 80% of what they want and the other person will have to be mature enough to settle with only getting 20% of what they want. In addition, the person getting most of what they want will realize that, at some point, they’ll need to give their partner 80% in another situation.

It’s like what happens when you turn on a neon light. First, you get a lot of rapid blinking between light and dark, light and dark. Then, there’s all light… or so it seems. Actually, when neon lights are “on,” they’re just blinking on and off at such a high rate that it looks like the light is on. We just can’t tell.

The same is true in relationships. Over time, when you flip from 80/20 to 20/80 so many times, you don’t keep track: You’re in an equal relationship. Only when relationships are one-sided and someone gets 80% most of the time through intimidation, fear, manipulation or because they’re more dominant than the other person, and the other person settles for 20% all the time, is a relationship not equal.

So really, it’s okay to have things your way and for you partner to have things their way. Not every decision has to be this great 50/50, “never-go-to-bed-angry” compromise. The trick is finding the balance. Figure out if you’re getting what you want the majority of the time (in that 80%) or if you don’t get your way frequently (that 20%). Then figure how you could try to “flip” your position.

Try filling in these blanks:

80 Percenters: I will be aware that when I’m in conflict with ______________, I will practice being ________________ as a way of being okay with getting 20% of what I want.

20 Percenters: I will be aware that when I’m in conflict with _______________, I will practice being ___________________ as a way of becoming more assertive and having my voice heard.