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Marriage Begins With Irreconcilable Differences

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Assume that both you and your “significant other” have an unexpected day off on the same day. How would you spend your time?

Ready? Okay then. Give yourself an A+ if you answered in any way that would include your discussing that you would at first need to sit down and talk about it with your partner. Give yourself a zero if your idea did not include some consultation with your partner and you “assumed” they would go along with your choice. (Example, “we would go to the beach together, of course”) And give yourself a zero if you “assumed” that you would do two separate activities on this day. (Example, “I would probably catch up on my actual work and my partner would probably visit with their family”). The key word here is the word “assume”

This little exercise illustrates one of the greatest problems people have in marriage; one I believe is the number one reason people divorce.  That is the handling of irreconcilable differences.

So, here is the bottom line about your relationship: you are two different people who will need to negotiate and not argue about the things you do together in your relationship.  Simply assuming that you are going to be together or simply assuming the opposite, which is that you will be separate and do different things during this day off, are both simply wrong.

That is because you are different and you will always need to negotiate these differences in your relationship is to be successful. Also, it’s always nice to negotiate your together time. This is because even though you are different, you are, after all, in a relationship together.

The mindset that you are different and will always need to negotiate your together time is the starting point of your marriage; in other words, marriage begins with irreconcilable differences.

If you don’t have that belief firmly entrenched in your mind at the beginning of each day, you will have lots of problems. Even in the beginning stages of a relationship; and in spite of the fact that the couple thinks they are very similar and share interests, they are in actuality incredibly different even though they are usually speaking endlessly about each other’s similarities.

Think about all the ways people can be different: we have different genes, we are of different genders, different upbringings, different value systems, different beliefs about God and different life experiences– and that is just for starters. Can you appreciate the fact that you have had different educational experiences, different parenting philosophies, different family configurations, different birth orders, and different friends throughout your lives?  Or how about different work, hobby, friendship, and eating preferences?

Not every issue needs to be raised. Simply loving and caring deeply for our partner may prevent many things from ever becoming issues. Marriage is NOT for getting our needs met; it’s for learning how to love and for finding out where we need to become more refined. For example, maybe we could let go of the dishes left in the sink. Hey, they made it to the sink! Most of life is rather boring; most days are filled with monotony and doing the same things again and again. Find the joy in them anyway!

Couples who are successful have some hidden world within these ordinary moments and these moments are key to couples building friendships and sexual intimacy. Foreplay happens all the time. In Gottman’s “sound relationship house theory,” conflict, friendship, and sense of purpose and meaning form three inter-locking circles.

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