I don’t know about you but rarely do decisions get made in my marriage where both Mary and I are completely on the same page. Oh it happens every now and again, giving us a glorious experience, but more often than not, we go back and forth a bit, sometimes producing conflict.
I think for a long while I viewed any type of conflict between Mary and I to be this great definition of failure in my marriage, as though it were doomed because of it.
It’s only been in recent years that I’ve began to accept this as a pretty normal experience. Funny how renaming something as normal, changes our perspectives completely.
Think about what we’ve uncovered so far in this series about marriage.
- Rarely if ever, are we fully prepared to handle the dynamics that surface in our marriages. But that’s ok, that’s precisely where we meet and experience The Father’s provision.
- Marriage is created for us to experience the gospel, and what is the gospel if not a story of our transformation (change). And we all know how hard change can be!
- Marriage consists of 2 very different people who have drawn together by various attractions. It’s ok that we’re different, that’s exactly how we’ll experience the oneness that marriage creates.
- Marriage illuminates the fact that we’re both broken, needy people, in great need of this gospel that we’ll experience from one another.
So by understanding that conflict and rough edges are normal experiences in marriage, we can be freed from the weight that we’re somehow flawed or not enough.
I remember growing up, witnessing the marriages around me and one thing stood out to me like a sore thumb: in just about every example, the women played this “silent” role. Oh sure there were a couple, like one or two, examples where that didn’t hold water, but for the most part that was my take away.
Of course it didn’t help all that much that in most christian circles, the dialogue on marriage focused way too much on the “submission” aspect of women and not near enough on the husbands participation in that process.
As Mary and I were getting to know one another and learning one another’s stories while dating, one thing we very much agreed on was how much we believed that the truest definition of marriage was grounded in terms of partnership. Meaning, neither one of us, got to have carte blanche when making decisions or living out our stories together.
This, as you already know and have read, was not so easily lived out.
As years passed, our stories of brokenness and woundedness began to play out, triggering each other, and our agreed vision for how we would relate to one another became much harder.
I quickly began to feel disrespected every time Mary would challenge my thought process or question my decisions and Mary eventually just grew silent, holding in her truest feelings and thoughts.
The dynamic that began to play itself out as a result was me trying to go BIG and LARGE (dominating) and Mary retreating, growing small and silent.
Both courses of action proved to be disastrous in our relationship.
Once the wounds from these patterns of behavior grow old and stale, and keep getting re-injured over time, healing becomes much harder to experience.
Let me set the record perfectly straight, husbands we need our wives to flat-out tell us when we’re wrong. That is love and respect. (Please tweet that!)
It’s been through years of counseling and support from our community that Mary and I both, are learning that true compromise is not the same thing as simple acquiescence. As a matter of fact, acquiescence is just a big word for fear based retreating. It’s a model of relinquishing your voice to a potential perceived rejection.
Now when we’re on opposite sides of an issue, we’re learning to remind one another of what truly matters. Sometimes it’s Mary taking the lead, other times it has been me, but either way we’re getting better at reminding one another of our shared vision for our marriage and family.
What we experience through this is, often times the points of contention start to shake loose when properly looking at our collective priorities. By reminding one another that we’re for one another, love one another, and support one another, it becomes easier to see where we need to shift on any given idea.
Through this shared vision, this shared gospel-lens, our differences don’t take up as much of the spotlight, but rather who we’re becoming and where we’re headed does.
That’s what true compromise is all about. Now if only our government and politicians could learn that.
Over time I’ve grown to crave and desire Mary’s input and when I don’t get it, I feel a bit lost, even unsure at times. I know that I’m made better by her input in every direction of life. I’m experiencing that I become more of the man, God created me to be through the, sometimes brutally honest, feedback Mary gives me.
This has proven to be incredibly rewarding as earlier this year we were able to come together with a shared vision for partnering with an organization called Franktown Open Hearts. Mary and I have a business called Tinsel & Twine where we create these awesome outdoor marketplaces that brings the community together to support all sorts of various creatives and artists.
This year we each were praying for what God wanted us to do with Franktown and we both came together with exactly the same vision! You can read more about that here.
I can’t tell you the joy that I felt in experiencing that provision from our great Father! What a beautiful picture of grace!
Do you struggle with acquiescing in order to just avoid conflict? How have you learned to compromise in marriage?
Share your stories in the comments below!
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