Thursday, February 6, 2014

What Compromise in Marriage Really Means

Although my days with MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) are passed, I am honored to contribute in any small way I can to this vital ministry. Therefore, I'm sharing thoughts on Thursdays with our local chapter, on the Sheridan Morning MOPS blog, and sharing it here with you:

I like percolated coffee. He likes it French pressed. I like mine with cream. He likes it black. We’re on the road with four children for two-and-a-half weeks of the smoldering July, pulling the weight of a camper and a collision of differences.
When camping, he likes the tasty blend brewed simply and quickly with the French Press. Yet, it tastes too instant and slightly bitter to me.

I’m willing to spend a little more time percolating the coffee for a more full bodied flavor.  He doesn’t taste the difference.

And we each think our own preference is the better of the two.

But we compromise. On mornings that we are staying through the day, we use the percolator and on mornings we are heading on the road, we use the French press.

And that is what we learn to do in marriage – compromise.

Yet, it’s easy to compromise over coffee. However, when circumstances leave one feeling attacked, under-appreciated, or de-valued, it can leave one defensive and scrambling. Learning to compromise in marriage can still leave one thinking better; one right. It can leave one proud and still bitter.

We’re preparing to journey toward the second destination on the third morning of our trip and I’m still feeding the children breakfast and he’s ready to pull the slide-outs in and hook up the camper.

"Didn't we talk about getting on the road by 9:00 in order to hit all the points in Yellowstone and make it to Jackson Hole by dinner?" he wonders. I hear the disapproval in his tone.

We’re on vacation and I haven’t even looked at the clock. I camouflage feeling that I can't measure up with the need to be right then stumble out the door of the camper, ushering kids ahead of me to the playground while he finishes up.

The tears flow beyond the protection covering my eyes. I’m mad at him and frustrated with me and I point the finger at God.

And that’s okay because God doesn’t get defensive or become bitter, like me, when one points the finger at him. Because directing our hurts toward God actually begins to expose the thief that lays dormant waiting for its trigger.

I brush the evidence from my cheeks and oblige to play a life-sized game of checkers with my oldest son. I try to be present but only go through the motions, as false messages continue to flow into the open, exposed, and truth begins to seep in.

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139:12, 13

He walks over and says we’re hitched and ready to go. I don’t look him in the eye. I still want to find a way to be right. He’s patient now and gathers the other three children from the sand pile, watches us a minute, and then says they’ll be waiting for us at the campsite.

We finish our game and I must choose. Choose to stand in a puddle of pride or to walk back.

We arrive and I climb into the passenger seat of the SUV. He takes my hand and apologizes for being short.

I tell him our differences don’t make one less than the other. He knows that. It’s me that needs reminded.

The defensive surge settles and I no longer feel the need to be right.  I simply recognize our reality like our coffee preferences and my ability to choose differently. I recognize my ability to be more thoughtful and helpful to him, and to go out of my way to put him before myself – before my ideas, my rights, and my sense of worth.

And something tells me he’s working out the same resolutions in his own heart and mind.

But it wouldn’t matter if he’s not. Because compromise in marriage is not 50/50.

Compromise, in marriage, is more than a settlement. It must be an offering – a 100% offering of self.  

“One of the greatest gifts you can give your husband (spouse) is your wholeness. The most effective tool in transforming him may be your own transformation.” Stormie Omartian, the Power of a Praying Wife

There is no condition to this union. Only grace. Because grace is the free gift that fills in the gaps and covers our failures.

And when I lay my burdens before the throne, Christ replaces them with truth, revealing my worth in Him, and opening my eyes to see clearly the man he created differently, yet perfectly for me.     

Two days later we prepare to hit the road toward our third destination and I French press our coffee like we agreed, pour two cups, offer one to a much more relaxed man, then take a sip myself. And that coffee just brewed by the simple, quick, and less-appreciated French Press? tastes just right.

No.  Better than the percolated kind the morning before.  

And over the duration of our trip, the percolator makes its way to the back of the cupboard, shoved behind pots and skillets that are frequently used, as I choose to brew coffee with the French Press each morning for the remainder of our trip.

Thoughts on how to love your spouse intentionally:

1.  The next time you feel frustrated with your spouse, take your frustrations to God before unloading them on your spouse no matter how justified you feel.

2.  Pray for the Holy Spirit to enable you to give 100% of yourself today by loving your spouse without condition.

3.  Think about something that makes you and your spouse different by design. Now go and thank your spouse for that quality.  

**Disclaimer: I believe this message builds a strong marriage that works only when Christ is at the center. It is not a message meant for an abusive marriage clearly in need of intervention. 
Edited from the archives

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