I enjoy coming up with new posts each week – well at least most weeks. This past week went by way too fast for me. So I decided to tap into my still soon-to-be-released book PLAY NICE in Your Sandbox at Home. Actually it should be available by the first of the year, but who knows you may have read the entire book in these posts before I even publish it 😊
Section Four: Yield: It’s a great investment strategy
“A good marriage is a contest of generosity.”
I had the privilege of preparing a couple for marriage, and of performing the wedding ceremony in which they made lifelong commitments to each other. Since I am seemingly incapable of doing anything without humor, I suggested to them that by getting married, they were giving up certain rights. As an example, I explained that they were now giving up their right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” I shall never forget the look on the bride’s face. Behind the abject horror was a sincere hope that I was kidding—which I certainly was.
I went on to explain that marriage is not like eating at Burger King. For those of you too young to remember, the Burger King Company ran an ad campaign in the 1970s that proclaimed at their restaurant you could always “have it your way.” While that might work at a fast-food restaurant, I assured the couple before me, as I assure you, the reader: this is not always the case in marriage, nor should it be.
While you certainly have the right to determine if, when, and to whom you might get married, once that decision is made, you voluntarily relinquish your right to make future decisions by and for yourself alone. For a marriage to be successful, the partners must have a mindset of “we” rather than “me.” Having said that, I have a personal pet peeve against the practice of extinguishing each spouse’s individual candle after they have jointly lit the unity candle. I understand the symbolism, but feel it can be taken too far.
When you marry, you do not have to abandon who you are and join with your partner to form an enmeshed blob. That is just not healthy for the parties or the marriage. You do, however, need to realize that as a married person, your identity will and should change. Marriage is a special relationship unlike any other known to man, in which two people form a bond, determined that they shall go through life together as an “us.”
By definition, therefore, there will be times when each partner will have to yield to the wishes and concerns of the other. I say “have to,” but what would your marriage be like if each of you chose to yield, not so much as an obligation, but as a gesture of love and caring?
In his faith-based book Sacred Marriage, Gary Thomas asks, “What if God designed marriage to make us Holy more than to make us happy?” Marriage is a wonderful living laboratory in which we may practice selfless love. It is not always easy, but frequent demonstrations of self-sacrificing love usually pay huge dividends and bode well for a long, satisfying marriage.
Again, there will be times in every marriage when each spouse will need to yield his or her preferences to those of his or her spouse. But what do you do when each spouse feels strongly about how a particular matter should be resolved? One way to determine the situation is to ask each one “on a scale of 1–10, how important is it that we do what you are asking?” This calls for honesty on each person’s part. You cannot simply say “10” every time the question is raised. Typically, one partner will feel more deeply about the issue than the other, and his or her preference should prevail. In a healthy marriage, these situations will balance out over time.
I’ll leave you with one more suggestion to get around apparent gridlocks in your marriage. My wife and I met and married in Cortez, Colorado. Five years into our marriage, I had a strong desire for us to move to Farmington, New Mexico, about 70 miles away from Cortez. I broached the subject to my wife and quickly realized she did not share my enthusiasm in the least. To be fair, I must tell you that my wife was born and raised in Cortez and that her mother and sister still resided there. Her roots went deep, and she did not want to entertain the thought of a “root canal.” I decided to drop the matter.
A few months later, I again asked my wife to consider agreeing to let me move us to Farmington, and again she made it abundantly clear that she did not want to do that. I dropped the matter once again, but only for a few more weeks. I then explained to her that I realized I did not have the right to demand that we move to Farmington, but neither did she have the right to deny the move. Since the “irresistible force” (my desire to relocate) met up with the “immovable object” (her desire to stay), I proposed a middle position.
I explained in depth why I felt so strongly that a move would be in “our” best interest and then gave her an offer she could not refuse. I suggested she give me the next year of our marriage and allow me to move us to Farmington. Whatever happened, she would have the next year and could move us back to Cortez if she wished. She asked if I was serious and after assuring her I was, I sweetened the deal. Knowing how close she was to her mother, I assured her that if she consented to the move, I would never ask her to move further away from her mother than the 70 miles that Farmington is from Cortez.
I’m not sure if I finally wore down her resistance, or she simply accepted the reasonableness of my offer, but in either event, we are still contented residents of Farmington as we enter our 37th year of marriage.
You’ve heard the expression “give and take.” I propose you adopt the mindset of “give and give.” When each party goes out of his or her way to yield to the other, the taking will take care of itself.
Chapter Challenge: Spend some time this week looking at your marriage from your mate’s point of view. Look for opportunities to put your own needs and desires aside to better meet those of your spouse. A great resource to help you do this is called The Love Dare from the movie Fireproof, which I referenced in Chapter A2. It’s available at www.thelovedarebook.com and other book outlets.