Sunday, April 15, 2012

Your Marriage Will Not Go Smoothly

Our back yard
Once a man I was counseling for his failing marriage told me, in anger, "I just want my marriage to go smoothly!" (As he said this he spread his two hands before me as if he was smoothing out a tablecloth.)

I told him: "It won't."

It's not logically impossible to have a "smooth marriage," in the way "square circles" and "married bachelors" are impossible. It's more like an oxymoron, perhaps, such as "Microsoft Works."

When he told me this I thought - there's the problem. He wants everything to go his way, and for his wife to always agree with him. He's controlling and self-centered. He doesn't want conflict.

Mark this: every good marriage has conflict. Two very different persons have come together to do life. There's trouble a-brewing. When it comes like a tsunami (not "if" it comes) what's needed are humble hearts + good communication skills. Marital partners must go through conflict, not turn tail and run from it (warning: you can't outrun conflict; it's faster than you are, especially as you grow older). And mostly, do not repress it, for if you do you are squashing your significant other.

One book I recommend is Caring Enough to Confront: How to Understand and Express Your Deepest Feelings Toward Others, by David Augsburger.

Another is To Understand Each Other, by Paul Tournier.

And especially Mike Mason's The Mystery of Marriage: As Iron Sharpens Iron.

Also good is Fit to Be Tied, by Bill and Lynn Hybels.