I spent many of my high school days coming home from school to watch old TV shows with my dad. I remember particularly watching an episode of the Cosby Show where Mrs. Huxtable says that marriage is 50-50: you give and you take. My dad took a sip of his soda, looked over at me and, in his true fashion of doling out bits of wisdom at a time when I was least expecting it, gave me a small nugget of truth.
He said, "Don't ever go into a relationship or a marriage thinking that. Marriage is not 50-50; if it were, you both would be continuously taking and giving much less. Marriage is 100-100. You don't love out of the expectancy that you'll get something in return. You love to be a blessing to that person, and you give everything you have. You choose to love them first because that's the way Jesus loved us."
Especially now that I'm living in another state, I think about my dad's words of wisdom quite a lot. I think about them when I get into an argument with my boyfriend. I think about them when I'm convinced I'm right and deserve to take, rather than give. I think about them, especially, when the argument stops and I'm constantly shown love and grace first... and it convicts me.
Even if I weren't with someone who continuously humbles himself and shows me love (although, let's be real- that's the dream), I would still need to remind myself to give my 100% in the relationship. Not my 50%. My 50% effort is sloppy, it can be hurtful, and it always leaves me thinking I deserve to take more than I give. That kind of attitude is not only unhealthy and unfair to the other person in the relationship, but it's not how we were meant to love.
"We love because He first loved us". If we are supposed to model Christ in what we do, if we are supposed to show others the same kind of love we were shown, we should love without any expectancy of a return. We should never stop giving and pouring out our love to the other person- even when we think we're right, even when we think we deserve an apology first, even when we feel like we haven't been given the same in return.
Does this mean your significant other should treat you like trash? Of course not, that's why we look for partners who are Christ-like and who also understand what it means to truly show love. But let's stop waiting for our boyfriends, girlfriends, and spouses to give their 50% before we give ours.
Give your 100% first. Choose to show love continuously and choose to humble yourself in all circumstances, even when you would rather do literally anything else. The best way we can show love is by being selfless, so don't put a price on it. Give your love freely, without the condition that you will get something in return. After all, it's MUCH more blessed to give than to receive.