Seth Godin has a great post about The problem with cable news thinking . Seth ends with, “If I wanted to hobble an organization or even a country, I’d wish these twelve traits on them.” I think we could add “a marriage” to that list, so I’m going to apply most of his bullet points to marriage.
- Focus on the urgent instead of the important: If you feel you live in a constant state of crisis, odds are you are missing what is really important. It’s amazing what percentage of “urgent” things you can ignore for a few hours, or days, of forever, without disaster striking. OTOH, if you are all about the urgent, the chance of disaster is significant.
- Vivid emotions … as a selector for what’s important: Feelings are good tools, but horrible masters. It’s a difficult balance, especially given the differences in men and women, but strong emotions alone should never dictate what happens – or if something happens.
- Emphasis on noise over thoughtful analysis: You only grow by understanding – understanding yourself, your bride, and what goes right and wrong in your relationship. Regardless of how much you hear about something from your bride, you need to put some private time into thinking through it.
- Unwillingness to reverse course and change one’s mind: This includes, but is not limited to, admitting when you are wrong. Those who can change direction have a much better chance of success in everything – including marriage.
- Defense of the status quo encouraged by an audience self-selected to be uniform: Asking your friends, who you know agree with you, if you did right or wrong is a waste of time and energy. If things are not working well, you need to make changes, and you won’t be encouraged to do that by folks who agree with all the thinking that got you to where you are.
- Things become important merely because others have decided they are important: Far too many couples are doing things neither of them enjoys because some friend, book, pastor, or counsellor says that is the way to do it. There is often more than one good/right way to do things, and sometimes a lot more than one way. We are not one-size-fits-all people, and our marriages are certainly not one-size-fits-all. What works for others might be good for you, or not so good, or very bad.
- Confusing opinion with the truth: Yes, I know you are far smarter than your bride is, and your opinion should be accepted as truth without question. Get over yourself!
- Revising facts to fit a point of view: Don’t abuse facts to make them support what you want the truth to be. This is especially true for the Bible, IMHO.
- Unwillingness to review past mistakes in light of history and use those to do better next time: Those who do not learn from their marriage mistakes are doomed to repeat them. Mistakes are a valuable tool to understanding your bride and your relationship – don’t throw away that resource!