Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Intimate Enemy

Everybody is self-centered at the start.
Until other people become important enough to us, and we love them enough, they're not part of our decisions.


That's how marriage begins.  Two selfish people getting intimately tangled up in each other's lives.  There's no chance that we fully understand each other in the early days (years).  As time passes and the glow of being together settles down, tension escalates.   
  • Where did you put my razor?
  • No, I hate that tv show.
  • Why didn't you get gas?

The issues are irrelevant nonsense, of course.  No one remembers what all the angry fighting was about.  The amount of time we spend being angry is in direct proportion to how selfish we still are.

So without any religious overtones, what's the practical counsel we're given?

He's not telling us to be spiritual or religious, he's telling us to care.  Do I care what's important to them?  And why it's important?  Can I back them up?  Can I help carry that piece?  The goal is not fight to win, it's fight to love like He did.

That's a high bar, and it'll take some thought and change, won't it.

So then, some suggestions for walking it out in real life:


  1. In marriage, winning an argument is something you’ll end up celebrating on your own. If you’re going to get healthy in married life, you’ve got to learn how to lose an argument. And to do that, you’ve got to learn how to be wrong.
    Ever been wrong?  Of course you have.
    Ever had a less than perfect attitude in an argument?  Of course.
  2. Issues 'between' you are always a problem.
    Between!  That is the problem!
    For every issue, sit side-by-side with your spouse and put the issue over there on the other side of the table/ room/ battleground.  Now, the two of you address the issue.  What do you see in the issue (not in your partner) that's annoying, important, problematic, whatever.  After you've heard each other and fed back what you heard, solve it together.  Don't let there be anything 'between'.  Marriage is not a contest, it's a continual negotiation where you learn from each other and change and grow up.  And grow closer.
  3. Practice makes perfect (or better, at least).
    Don't avoid disagreements, dig them up and examine them.
    Schedule the resolution/diplomatic meeting; "Let's do this one over coffee tomorrow morning at Panera!"  (Having your negotiations in a semi-public arena is a great inhibitor of stupid stuff.)  Okay, maybe home is better, but no hollering.
  4. Remember the goal, and say it to each other out loud, often.  We're on the same side, two against the world and every destructive influence.  Two becoming one means every battle is to draw closer, grow wiser, and love deeper.

    Warning Note:  It is unlikely that the two will mature simultaneously.  Growing up is personal and independent change.  It is not uncommon for one to continue being selfish and the partner to become accustomed to acquiescence.   Don't do that.

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