SHE SAYS: “I’m just practical. Why can’t Patrick see that?”
Sally says: I don’t feel as if I’m negative – I’m practical! You need to see all the possible consequences of an action before you do anything. I just don’t understand why Patrick doesn’t get that.
HE SAYS: “Sally is negative about everything!”
Patrick says: Sally is a real Eeyore – she seems to see the negative side of everything. I am much more upbeat, but it’s beginning to get me down as well. What can we do to resolve this difference in attitude?
What do they do?
It has been our experience that spouses seldom have the same worldview and see opportunities and challenges in the same light. This is good, because it makes life interesting – even when it forces each of us to consider using a different lens in examining something outside of our own sandbox.
In a committed relationship, it can also be a source of irritation because our decisions, our worldview, our perspective and our very essence are being challenged more frequently than we think they should. The reality is that some people see a glass half-full and others see the same glass as half-empty; it is a matter of perspective. Our attitude is a learned behavior and reflects a philosophy of life. In a marriage relationship, it can be very difficult if one has a positive outlook on life and the other has a more pessimistic view because they will spend the bulk of their time arguing about the glass being half-full or half-empty.
In spite of their apparently different worldviews, Sally and Patrick still can have a life-giving marital relationship; it will just take time, love and a commitment to make it work for the “other.” Scripture helps us to remember, “... Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous ... it does not seek its own interest.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-5) If Sally and Patrick focus on changing the other, to win them over to their side (their view), with the hope of adopting the same life attitude, little progress toward a mutually beneficial relationship is possible. However, when they focus on understanding the other, on working with the other in spite of conflicting views, a mutually life-giving relationship is not only possible, but highly probable. Within the context of marriage, a balanced approach is needed because it isn’t about me, it is about us. Our primary role as a spouse is to help our spouse get to heaven and we cannot accomplish that unless we place them first; we do that through understanding, caring, communications, and commitment.
It is possible that Patrick and Sally complement each other more than they realize. If Patrick has a propensity to jump into new ideas or activities too fast, Sally’s caution may be just what their relationship needs. If Sally is overly cautious to the point she doesn’t recognize opportunity when it knocks, Patrick’s enthusiasm may be just what their relationship needs. In reality, Patrick and Sally need to communicate more about their feelings and being honest with each other. There always will be some conflict in a good marriage relationship. Praying to the Holy Spirit for strength will help keep their focus on what brought them together in the first place and will help them build trust and respect for the other. Being sensitive to each other’s feelings and keeping a sense of humor will help in their communication skills. There are three persons in a marriage relationship: husband, wife and Christ. All three will be needed to keep the marital relationship afloat and alive.
Deacon Tom Fogle and JoAnne Fogle help prepare couples for marriage.