We attended a beautiful wedding last weekend. Two individuals uniting and becoming one. How does that happen? Throughout our childhood and young adult life, all our training is aimed at becoming self-sufficient. And then, suddenly, we are supposed to be inter-dependent. It’s not easy. We know the bride. She is smart and capable. She has wonderful ideas. I’m sure the groom has wonderful ideas too. What happens when her wonderful idea is different than his wonderful idea?
We should always start the same way. It’s just that we forget.
Step 1: Humble yourselves and pray.
Why is that so hard to remember? We don’t seem to have any trouble remembering to start arguing and pushing for our position. Somehow that comes naturally. But this is the time to take a moment (not after the argument starts) to join hands, bow heads, and say, “Lord, guide us. Show us what is best for us to do in this situation.”
Step 2: Listen.
What is your spouse’s position? Why is it important to them to do it that way? This is not the time to debate. This is the time to listen and to understand.
Step 3: Explain your position.
Nicely. Why is it so important to you? Hopefully, they will listen to you. If they don’t, remind them that you listened to their position and now you’d like a turn.
We have found that many times, one position really is better than the other. Bob grew up in a god-fearing family. His parents sought God daily and received great instruction from their church and other Christians. I didn’t have that experience and when it came to questions of child-rearing, for example, Bob simply had a better feel for it. I admit that. That does not mean I didn’t have good insights about how our girls were feeling and how he might soften his words or make exceptions to a rule. It would have been wrong of me to withhold those insights.
You may have noticed a recurring question in both Steps 1 and 2: Why is it important to you? Many times we just want to do something our way because that’s the way we’ve always done it. Sometimes we’re a bit selfish and want to do what is easier for us. But sometimes there is an emotional reason. Doing something a certain way matters deeply to us.
When our children were just starting school, I wanted them to attend a Christian school, but Bob thought they should go to public school. Christian school tuition was not in the budget at that point. Moreover, Bob had attended the public schools in our city and received a good education. Of course, it had been more than two decades earlier. I had taught at a Christian school before we were married and I had seen benefits that extended past academic learning. I had a deep emotional connection to Christian education. It was important to me for reasons that were not completely logic-based.
In our marriage, the final decision has usually not been my way or Bob’s way. It’s been our way. And hopefully, God’s way. We’d take Bob’s wonderful ideas and my wonderful ideas and put them together. In this case, we found a Christian school in our city that went pre-school through high school. That meant all three of our girls were on one campus and I could teach on the adjoining high school campus. Teachers’ kids got half off their tuition and my salary covered the remaining half. It was the marriage of two ideas and two positions.
Step 4: Rejoice.
Thank God for His guidance. Give each other a nice big hug. You did it!