Mar 062018 2 Responses

Pick Your Marriage Problems

One of the best decisions Jenny and I have ever made was her starting her own company. While she worked with great people, the freedom and personal ownership of being self-employed has been a great direction for our family. That single decision eliminated many problems. She no longer has to be in the office by 8. She doesn’t feel hesitation or guilt in leaving her office in order to take care of the kids. I don’t feel as much frustration when she has to work on the weekend because her work is for us and not someone else. It’s fun when one decision can eliminate many frustrations.

However, the decision that eliminated many problems, created many more. While there are many benefits of working for yourself, there are also many downfalls. Paychecks aren’t guaranteed. Taxes are absurd…completely absurd. When you are self-employed you are never truly off.

Life is full of problems. They can’t be avoided. There’s no such thing as a problem-free life. But the types of problems you have can be chosen. So we must choose wisely.

Marriage Problems

What problems do you want to have in your marriage? This is the question every couple faces. Sadly, most husbands and wives never consider the choice they have regarding their problems. Rather than being intentional, they feel their conflicts and struggles are beyond their influence. They let their problems choose them rather than them choosing their problems. (See: Two Steps to Solving 90% of all Relationship Problems)

Consider which you would prefer:

being unknown OR explaining yourself even when you are too tired to talk

occasionally feeling like your spouse doesn’t trust you OR occasionally feeling unsupported

not having enough money for retirement OR living by a rigid budget which restricts your spending

enduring this problem for the rest of your marriage OR humbling yourself to seek help from a professional

living in a house that’s smaller than you want OR feeling the pressure of a mortgage that’s more than you can afford

losing some friendships that don’t nourish your marriage OR having less of a marriage in order to keep old friends

still having the fun of a teenager while losing the respect of your wife OR having the respect of your wife but leaving behind some of the joys of boyhood

having more sex than you want but having a spouse that is satisfied OR only having as much sex as you want but having a spouse that is frustrated

missing the game and a wife that is happy OR watching the game and a wife that is frustrated

Which problems do you want? While all of these examples may not be exact, the principle is true–you will have problems. Everything in life is a tradeoff. The question isn’t, “How can we avoid problems?” It is “Which problems do we want to have?”

Many marriages suffer and/or end because the couple chooses the wrong problems.

I’ll refer a couple to counseling and they will say, “We can’t afford it.” They choose to avoid short-term cutbacks to their budget, but end up choosing the cost of a divorce and everything that comes with it.

A husband will complain that his wife won’t work on an issue that frustrates him, but he refuses to clearly communicate the issue. He chooses to endure the problem rather than enduring a difficult conversation.

A wife desperately longs for a true partnership in her marriage, but she’s not willing to risk the fight that may occur if she brings up the issue. She chooses to have her needs go unmet rather than facing a potentially difficult discussion. (See: Marry a Partner, Not a Child)

We may not choose all of our problems, but we choose many of them. Unfortunately, we often make poor choices. Rather than enduring short-term struggles, we choose long-term suffering. Rather than leaning into the difficult conversations, we put up inappropriate actions. Instead of experiencing seasons of struggle, we choose years of sorrow.

We often fail to recognize the problems which healthy couples have chosen. We see their marriages and wrongly assume they experience a glee which we can never have. What we fail to see is that they have chosen problems which we have rejected. They choose hard words. They embrace vulnerability. They do the work necessary to make their marriage thrive. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it. It’s a set of problems, but it’s a set of problems which they would prefer over the alternative.

Choose Your Problems Wisely

Recently I was doing a Q&A at a marriage conference. During a session, I had told a story about me and Jenny. She had mentioned she didn’t like me walking in the house from work on the phone. It made the family feel unimportant. The calls weren’t work-related. Every day I call a friend on my way home from work. She asked me to change the time in which I talk to my friend. So I did.

At the conference, someone asked, “How do you tell a friend you need to change a call without hurting his feelings or coming across as though your wife is in charge?” It’s a good question that has an easy answer. You tell him the truth and you don’t care what he thinks. A wise friend will understand. A foolish friend won’t understand, but they shouldn’t have influence over you anyway. Choosing between a frustrated friend or a frustrated wife is easy. Both are problems, but it’s not difficult to choose which problem you want to have.

Every couple is continually making choices about what problems they want to have. Those with good marriages simply make better choices.

Consider a problem. How are you choosing that problem over another problem? Is that a wise choice? Should you choose differently?


2 Responses to Pick Your Marriage Problems

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