This is the third instalment in our series of post focused on marriage. We started with a look at six benefits of marriage, followed by an analysis of the Honeymoon period and beyond. Ask any successfully married couple the key to longevity in love and they will inevitably give compromise as one of the main reasons for their staying power. But how does that really play out within a relationships is a complicated thing, especially given different priorities that each partner may have. It goes way beyond whether the toilet seat is up or down (best to have two bathrooms!), especially when child rearing becomes part of the equation. Following is an excerpt from an Art of Manliness post on the subject.
Understand that neither the husband nor wife sets the baseline of normalcy.
I received this advice about 2 years before I was married, from a friend of my father’s who specialised in marriage counselling.
He described how one of the biggest problems he sees in a marriage is whenever a husband insists that if only his wife would see things his way, then their marriage would become harmonious (or vice versa).
The problem is that one spouse is setting up his or her behaviour as the baseline of normalcy.
If the other spouse’s actions or reactions deviate from this false baseline, then he or she is deemed the abnormal one.
See the problem?
The marriage counselor described how just like men and women’s physical bodies look different in overt ways, so too their psychological makeups are different. Men and women are equal in their intrinsic sense of identities and in their value as human beings, but they are different in how they approach the world.
The “right” approach is not the male way. Just the same way that the “right” approach is not the female way.
One of the best ways any spouse can love their partner is by seeing and appreciating these differences between the sexes, not pretending they don’t exist or fighting against them.
Let’s say a father wants to take the training wheels off his young son’s bike. But the mother resists, saying that the son is not old enough.
The father will do himself a disservice if he insists that his way is right, and that if only the mother would come around to his way of thinking, then their marriage would be harmonious.
It may well be that the mother is simply approaching the decision from a classically female perspective of wanting safety for her child, of nurturing her son. Whereas the father is approaching the decision from a classically male perspective of wanting independence for his son, of encouraging him to be adventurous.
The solution is to appreciate the differences in each spouse’s approach and talk it out together.
Check here in two weeks for the forth post in this marriage focused series, we will be looking at the intricacies of overcoming disagreement.