One of the things I say in pre-marriage counseling is you are marrying more than you can see at the moment. You are marrying everything the other person brings to the table.
You are marrying their strengths, their skills, their successes, their promises of love and faithfulness, their partnership, their support, their dreams. This is a wonderful thing.
But you are also marrying their expectations, their fears, their beliefs, their way of doing things, their definition of truth and love, their values, their theology.
You are marrying their world view.
You are marrying their baggage. You are marrying their strengths and their weaknesses.
You are marrying their family dynamic and their family rules. Sheesh. You are marrying their family. You marry their family’s way of doing things. You marry the skeletons in their family closet. Maybe you marry into a lot cash. Hey. Just sayin’…
It’s sad, but I see so many couples these days who function in an unhealthy way. One partner has more influence, so the other partner makes the necessary concessions, in order for conflict to be minimized. They do this in the name of love and keeping peace, but often, all it does is undermine the stability of the relationship and strip away the dignity of one, or even both. What looks like commitment-based compromise, is really nothing more than disrespect and taking the easy way out.
Real love is doing what’s in the best interest of another. In marriage, that doesn’t always mean we give in to the partner with the strongest personality or the one who inflicts the most grief when they don’t get their own way.
Too often, unhealthy and immature win. Too often, the voice of reason is drowned out by a dysfunctional past. Too often, compromises are made long before both sides have mustered the courage to be completely honest. Too often, couples leave the negotiating table and retreat to their silent corners. Too often, best is sacrificed at the altar of expediency. Too often, doing the right thing is ignored, in order to placate the partner who is the most emotionally manipulative.
Harsh? Maybe. The truth is that way sometimes.
In marriage, the table of negotiation is also the table of love. So learn to stay at the table longer. You will both be better off because of it.