We talked last week here in Meridian about the wonder of equality in marriage. Let’s take the thought a little further and think about the fact that synergy and growth are often obtained not in spite of but because of disagreements and strong individual opinions that may occasionally be at odds.
No one could doubt the equality of a marriage partnership where the husband-part and the wife-part were two halves of one whole, and indeed, that is a good description of a great marriage, particularly when there is mutually-complementing synergy involved. When a married couple comes to the realization that two people can retain their individuality even as they seek unity, and understands that both parties are magnified rather than diminished in such a relationship, all of life becomes more meaningful and more exciting.
Benjamin Franklin said it this way: “A single man is like half a pair of scissors.”
That may be a little severe-certainly there are many single people who are doing just fine thank you, but for those who are married, it is a nice way to look at things because two halves of a pair of scissors are certainly equal, and they can definitely do better and be more effective by working together!
Does unity imply a total absence of differences or personal opinions? Not at all, in fact it is the differences, dealt with in harmony, that make the marriage both interesting and growth oriented. It is all about how those differences are used, and addressed, and resolved. We once had a young couple come to us and say “There must be something really wrong because we have been married only a year and we had our first disagreement last week.”
We were like, “Wow, your first one? After a year? Yes, something must be wrong if you haven’t had more arguments than that!”
LeGrande Richards, one of our most beloved Apostles, used to be our neighbor. He was in his 90’s and one day we asked him the secret to his longevity. He said “Well, way back, 60 years ago when my wife and I got married, we made a solemn pledge that we would never fight or argue within the walls of our own home!” We thought to ourselves, “Well, that’s nice, but he missed the question.”
He paused a moment, twinkle in his eye, and then said “That’s why we’ve lived so long-we spent so much time in the out-of-doors!”
Then one other time I (Richard) was on a plane and found myself seated next to a British fellow who was a marriage counselor. He was older, and very droll, and he said to me, “Over my many years counseling, I have discovered three kinds of marriage that are absolutely conflict free!”
Really, I said, tell me about them.
“Well,” he said, “the first is where one or the other is dead.” I still had hope for the other two.
“The second”, he said, “is where one is such a total doormat and the other so completely dominant that there is never a disagreement because one always calls all the shots.”
“And the third, more common all the time, is where they live such totally separate lives, never really overlapping, that there is really no opportunity for disagreement.”
The point, of course, of both he and Elder Richards, was that all real marriages have disagreements and the important thing is how we resolve them and grow from them.
And one more thing: It is OK for kids to know you disagree sometimes, even to see a disagreement now and then, so long as it is not violent or hurtful. What is essential though, is that they also see you resolve it-that they see you make up-that they see you loving each other and explaining to them that two people can have differences and can learn from each other’s viewpoint and can communicate and grow and find resolution.
Your kids may never learn a more important lesson!
Readers Poll: (let’s see how much of this you agree with)
1.What do you think is the best measurement of unity in a marriage?
– How few disagreements there are between husband and wife?
– How different or conflicting opinions are dealt with and resolved
2.What is best for kids?
– To never see any differences of opinion or arguments between their parents
– Certainly not to see violent arguments but to know that their parents sometimes disagree and to see them work things out.
Richard and Linda are New York Times #1 bestselling authors who lecture throughout the world on family related topics. Visit the Eyres anytime at www.TheEyres.com or www.joyschools.com. Several of their books are now available for free on www.EyresFreeBooks.com.