Abraham Lincoln once said that a house divided against itself cannot stand, and if that is true for a nation, how much more so is it the reality of a marriage. Unity between a husband and wife is the anchor that steadies a couple in the storms and the fuel that sustains them for the long haul.
That doesn’t mean that you and your spouse have to think alike on absolutely everything, but you must have a united front on the big things if you are going to not only survive but also thrive. Without the confidence that you are on the same page about what really matters, there’s the danger that you may be driven apart by inner conflicts and outer pressures.
Knowing that you are in agreement on major issues produces a sense of security—and not just for each other. You and your spouse know that you have each other’s back—and so do your children. Sometimes they like to try to play Mom and Dad off against each other, but while they may not admit it, they find it comforting to know they can’t. Take a moment to reflect on these 5 Reasons Unity Between a Mom and Dad is So Important.
Susan and I determined from the start of our life together that we would not move ahead in a significant area without being united. Whether it has to do with careers, money, or parenting, we know that being of one mind and heart is essential. Getting there hasn’t always been easy, but here’s what we have learned as the six steps to achieving unity in marriage.
Make the commitment.
Agreeing that you’ll always strive to pursue unity means you will do the hard work it may take to get there. It is a commitment to honesty, openness, and good communication, which can all only be good for your marriage.
Try to be neutral.
As you discuss the way ahead, hold your position as lightly as possible. Be prepared to reason your ground without being defensive and really try to hear your spouse’s point of view. There is an art to really listening effectively. Unfortunately, it’s been well said that when someone else is talking, most of us are listening to respond rather than to learn.
Unfortunately, it’s been well said that when someone else is talking, most of us are listening to respond rather than to learn.
Embrace your spouse’s position.
Love is all about giving…giving selflessly and sacrificially to the other person. So, instead of just starting out seeking “middle ground” or a compromise, why not embrace your spouse’s position if you can. Of course, if you have a strong reason why you can’t do that, work through it with your spouse. Not being self-seeking is one of 7 Musts for Your Marriage.
Exercise great patience.
If you try to rush to unity when you are coming from different positions, someone is going to end up feeling railroaded. And the reality is that many decisions don’t need to be made in an instant. Take the time to reflect on what you have said and heard. It may take a while for your spouse to recognize the wisdom of your perspective—or the other way around. Being prepared to wait to reach agreement also means you might decide to try out an approach to a situation to see if it works; you can always revise or change your mind later.
Seek wise counsel.
As part of the process of taking the time necessary to come to a united decision, it might be good to listen to some outside voices. Talk about the situation with family, friends, or perhaps a professional counselor. Don’t just look for someone who will tell you what you want to hear.
Keep a humble heart.
The emphasis should be on what you agree is best for your spouse and your marriage. Of course, if it’s best for both of you, that’s best. It’s what is best for “us,” not “me.” At times that may mean giving up your way. For the one who may choose to defer to the other on a particular issue, that means being truly selfless and genuinely agreeing to choose their way. There is no room for “I told you so” if things end up going the way you may have feared.
These six steps have helped us many times. I remember when our three children started moving into their teen years. At that time, Susan expressed her interest in exploring adoption. I was not as open to the idea, but I really wanted to hear why this was important to her and what it would mean for our family. In time, I agreed that we might host a couple of children in the group of Russian orphans visiting our community one summer. In due course, that led my heart to change and to Susan and I opening our home to these children permanently and expanding our family to five children. It’s a decision we are grateful for but just one of many that really needed for us to be of one heart and mind.
How about you? How do you maintain unity in your marriage? Share your thoughts and experiences here.