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Monday, June 11, 2012

Marriage Compromises


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This post should start with a definition of what I do NOT mean by marriage compromises.
I do not mean that anyone should compromise in their standards for a spouse, future or current.
For me, that means that when I was single, my standards included that my husband would have to be a Christian--and Lutheran--that he would have to be willing to be the primary breadwinner, that he would take on the responsibility as the leader of our home, especially spiritually, and that he would love Jesus more than anything (including me)--among a few other, less significant things.  I do not recommend compromising on anything that important.
In our marriage now, I do not compromise on things such as...
We need to always treat each other with love and respect.
God has to come first.  Period.
Joshua (generally) has the final say in decision-making.  (For more on that, see a recent post on submission in marriage.)

Those are the non-negotiable items.
In many cases, we have different opinions and want things done in different ways.  Like I said, I generally let Joshua decide...but I also have needs and wants, too!  As a loving husband he often lets me have things my way--or, at the very least, we show love and respect to one another by making a compromise.
A few examples (some theoretical, some actual):
Say I have baked chicken planned for lunch today, sandwiches and tomato soup for supper, and chicken soup for lunch tomorrow.  The soup will use the leftover meat from the baked chicken, and the broth that I'll make by slow-cooking the chicken bones.  That's what's going through my mind.  Joshua requests his favorite chicken-and-rice casserole for lunch today before he leaves for work.  Well, that doesn't really fit into my meal plan...and I don't like it when my meal plan gets messed up.  However, I CAN use some of the chicken meat for the casserole...and I'll still probably have enough for soup.  I can go ahead with my plan to make the baked chicken today and the broth overnight.  Joshua can wait till tomorrow for the casserole, and I can freeze broth and chicken meat to make the soup another day.  He gets his favorite dish, just a day later than requested, and my meal plan is neatly rearranged.  We're both happy.
Here's a real-life example:
I was raised with the understanding that everybody goes to church every Sunday unless you're running a high fever or throwing up.  Period, no excuses.  Missing church was always the worst thing about being sick.  Joshua was raised with parents that were more flexible: if, on rare occasion, Joshua or one of his brothers was tired or preferred to worship at home with an online sermon and a Bible, his parents would allow it every now and then.  For quite a few months Joshua has tried to request the same thing from me, and I did not respond well.  It caused some arguments.  Finally, we recently made a compromise: once every three months Joshua can choose to stay home from church, without sickness as an excuse, and I'll stay with him.  I can handle four Sundays a year of worshiping at home, and he knows that he has that option every now and then.
(He "cashed in" on his first free Sunday yesterday.  It was actually really nice...we listened to a fantastic sermon at home, prayed together, and had a very relaxing day.)

These are examples of less-important things (the meal-plan-rearrange) and things that are more important to us (the church-going, or not).  When it came to deciding about whether or not it's important to go to church every single Sunday, both of us had opinions that we'd had for our whole lives, resulting in different choices our parents made in raising us.  Neither way was necessarily right or wrong...just different.  But we learned to meld our different opinions in a way that both of us could feel good about.

I can guarantee that at various times in our marriage, we will discover things we disagree about.  Depending on the circumstances, I may submit to Joshua's leadership and let him decide how to do things.  That would take all responsibility off me.  Or, if it would make us both happier, I may request a compromise.

Every couple is made up of two very different people, raised in different ways, holding different opinions about things, and sometimes they will disagree.  When it's necessary, a compromise is often the solution to avoiding arguments and unhappiness from both sides.  A compromise may not completely satisfy both the husband and wife, but marriage is all about give-and-take.  Each person gives 100%.

When a husband and wife are both completely selfless, marriage works perfectly.  No person can every be completely selfless, of course, which is why no marriage is absolutely perfect.  But when we seek to imitate Christ in everything, the husband will love his wife the way Christ loved the church, giving Himself up for her, and the wife will submit to and respect her husband the way the church submits to Christ.  Each gives themselves up for the other.  Each looks primarily to the other's needs.  That's something that is not to be compromised in marriage, but when it leads to good, wholesome compromises, it builds up the marriage and strengthens the couple's relationship.

So, when faced with disagreements, should a couple compromise?  Not always, but when they do, it can be a blessing to them both.

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2 comments:

  1. What a sweet post! I love the story about church, how funny! But what a great example of compromise. I don't think people want to compromise these days. Everyone wants their own way.

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  2. Jaimie,
    Thank you for sharing about your growing marriage and for linking up with The Alabaster Jar!

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I love reading your thoughts and opinions!