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Reintroducing Us and The 80/80 Marriage

At long last, we've launched our new book The 80/80 Marriage.

So we thought we would break from our usual format this week and use this as a chance to reintroduce ourselves and this idea of the 80/80 marriage.

So who are we anyway? Well, we met each other 24 years ago, during our senior year of high school. Ironically, we met in chemistry class, where the two of us shared the same lab table. We dated for a short while, went to senior prom together, and even got into the same college. But then, one month before starting our freshman year at Stanford, we broke up.

“We are too young," we said to ourselves. “If this love is meant to be, it will come back one day."

And it did. Seven years later, when we were 24 and living on opposite sides of the country, we started dating again. We got married at 26, and the rest is history.

During this time, Kaley started her career as an executive coach and facilitator. Over the years, she has worked with executive teams at many of the world's leading companies and facilitated more than 400 Young Presidents Organization (YPO) Forums. She also managed to coauthor three books: The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership, The Drama Free Office, and 13 Guidelines for Effective Teams.

Nate took a more circuitous route to this book. After getting his PhD from Princeton in political philosophy, he started his career as a professor at Pepperdine University. His real passion, however, wasn’t studying or teaching philosophy but living it.

This led him to cofound a company with his partner Eric Langshur called Life Cross Training (which merged to become Mindful Media). Nate and Eric also published a book called Start Here: Master the Lifelong Habit of Wellbeing, a book about integrating mindfulness into real life.


The 80/80 marriage

Why did we write this book? Even though we had both devoted our professional lives to self improvement, mindfulness, and communication, figuring out marriage turned out to be our greatest challenge.

We read all the books. We looked to our parents' models of marriage. And yet we still couldn’t figure out how to balance the demands of our careers, parenting, and the stress, distraction, and uncertainty of modern life.

So one day on a date hike, our favorite ritual, we thought to ourselves, “Maybe we should write a book on the challenges of modern marriage." This led us to reach out to marriage experts and therapists. It led us to conduct over 100 interviews with people from all walks of life about their relationships. In the end, it led us to write the book that launched last week: The 80/80 Marriage.


What is an 80/80 marriage?

The book addresses what is perhaps the most challenging question modern couples face: how can you strive for equality in marriage with out destroying connection and intimacy?

In the early years of our marriage, we answered this question by trying to make everything fair. "If we can just achieve perfect 50/50 fairness," we thought, "we'll finally live in a state of marital bliss."

We were wrong. We went "all in" on fairness for well over a decade and just about blew up our marriage. This left us scrambling to find a better model for being in love in the midst of life's chaos. 

Ultimately, it led us to The 80/80 Marriage. These numbers measure the spirit of contribution. With an 80/80 marriage, each partner strives to contribute 80 percent. We know that this makes no logical sense. There’s no such thing as a 160 percent whole. But the irrationality of this goal is sort of the point. The only way to break free from the current cultural obsession with fairness in marriage is to work toward something radical. 

This move toward an 80/80 marriage involves two big shifts. The first is a shift from a mindset of fairness to one of radical generosity, which shapes what we do, what we see, and what we say.

The second is a shift away from the role confusion of the 50/50 model and the pursuit of individual success, to a new structure organized around shared success. It's a shift from asking, "What's best for me?" to asking, "What's best for us?" It's a shift designed to help us more skillfully navigate roles, priorities, boundaries, power, and sex.

The best way to explore The 80/80 model is by reading the book. But you can also follow our daily posts on Instagram and Facebook or subscribe to this weekly newsletter for insights, tips, and strategies.

Now that the book is out, we're excited to continue the exploration with you and your partner!

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