Monday, October 17, 2011

The Ties That Bind Us

I've heard marriage counselors speak about the issues that cause discord and drive wedges in a marriage. Children. In-laws. Money. Just to name a few.

Imagine these scenarios with me (totally hypothetical---any similarities to any real situations are purely coincidental):

Jim and Mary have had big dreams for children. The day finally comes when their home is blessed with a newborn. Mary is soon exhausted from sleepless nights and the full-time care of a little one. As the little one grows, she pours all of herself into making sure the child is clothed and fed and entertained. Jim gradually gets pushed to the back burner, and wonders if the relationship they had had before the baby came is gone forever.

Tom and Sue have only been married for a few months and his mother is driving them crazy. She calls multiple times a day and drops by unannounced frequently. She is rude to Sue and sickening sweet to Tom, making Sue feel like she has a rival instead of a new mother to love.

Bill and Jane both feel the tension building as they look over the month's budget. They have a small amount set aside and Jane wants to spend it on some new clothes. Bill really wants that new hunting rifle.The disagreement escalates into ugly words on both sides about the other's spending habits.

In my very non-expert thoughts, I've always wondered if these wedges are really intended to be ties. Things that, instead of drawing us apart, tie us together in a union made more inseparable through the passing years.

What if Jim and Mary looked at their child as a natural extension of their love and a happy addition to their home. Instead of letting the child replace their relationship, they can let him enhance it. Jim can offer to help Mary out with the baby, and Mary can set some time aside to spend with just him like they were used to before the baby's coming. The "wedge" of a new child could become a tie that binds them together with common purpose and joy.

Tom and Sue could let his mother become a "wedge" that drives them apart in marriage. Sue could repay his mother's rudeness with rudeness. Tim could allow his mother to keep their new home in an upheaval for fear of hurting her feelings. Or they could make this situation into a "tie". Sue could respond sweetly when Tim's mother makes rude comments. Tim could have a private talk with his mother and assure her that she is loved and not replaced as his mother but he won't allow her to interfere with their marriage. The two of them could work together on the common purpose of making his mother feel loved and accepted and needed by them so she wouldn't feel the need to interfere in their relationship.

Bill and Jane could keep holding onto their selfish interests and let money become a "wedge". Or they could let it become a tie. Bill could put Jane first and take her on a shopping trip with just the two of them and help her pick out some outfits they both love. Jane could put Bill first and go along when he purchases his hunting rifle and maybe even spend a morning in the tree stand with him. If there's not enough to do both, they could work together to save the money so both of them could buy something they enjoy while putting the other person first.

In each of these cases, the couples could come out on the other side of the conflict with a stronger marriage because they allowed it to tie them together rather than driving them apart.

What is a source of conflict in your marriage? Today, think of what you can do to take that "wedge" and use it to tie strings of harmony around the two of you.

Jennifer Self is a disciple of Jesus Christ who loves following His plan for her life as a wife to the most wonderful man in the world and mama to four little blessings. Her days are filled with spending time with her man, homeschooling, preparing reasonably healthy meals and keeping the dust bunnies and the clutter monster at bay with a little blogging mixed in. After her family has been taken care of, she dabbles in her other passions of reading, health and music. She blogs about her life, her Heavenly Father, marriage, parenting and home at and real food for real families from the perspective of real faith at

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