Marriage: Respecting the Laws of Relational Equilibrium
Is Your Marriage Teetering in the Balance? Respecting the Laws of Relational Equilibrium
One fond childhood memory surrounds the pleasure of mastering the teeter-totter. It’s the playground apparatus that involves two children rocking up and down where they can push with their feet to go faster and higher. To fully enjoy the activity, you needed a friend near your size—an equal who could offset your weight. You needed balance.
Here’s what I found. The bigger I was, the more I had to move toward my friend to make the ride work. To share the experience, the heavier one had to compensate for the lighter. They had to move toward the middle. I learned I could control others if I outweighed them. Similarly, I could be stranded in the heavens with a partner who was not my equal. Finally, the farther I leaned away from my friend, the more I could control their experience.
The teeter-totter resembles relationships. The bigger I am (aggressive, opinionated and confident), the more I have to move toward my partner to keep balance. The heavier person emotionally can often control the discussion and the direction of the relationship. We have to move toward each other in marriage, especially the more forceful one, to even out the interaction.
I call this Relational Equilibrium.
To create stability and satisfaction in marriage, we have to practice this balance. I have observed three basic laws that make a pleasurable interpersonal experience possible. Apply these truths and you are on your way to enjoying all the ups and downs life can bring to your marriage.
Law 1: Shared Purpose
The first law of relational equilibrium is shared purpose. This means that both husband and wife have a deep commitment toward building a great marriage. Their common goal is to do whatever it takes to have a rewarding relationship they want to be a part of. Some couples actually talk through and write out a couple mission statement. Here is our version to give you an idea of what I am referring to.
COUPLE MISSION STATEMENT
Dave and Donalyn Currie
Revised June 1, 2000
With a full surrender to Jesus Christ and the difference He makes in both a life and a home,
our marriage is a life-long adventure of committed and genuine friendship that…
1. Focuses on keeping our individual faith alive and growing,
2. Rises above the routines of life and the pressures of tough times,
3. Bonds with the crazy glue of laughter, openness, and passion,
4. Displays persistent support and an exclusive faithfulness to the core,
5. Models the realities of a healthy marriage up close and personal to our kids,
6. Builds a home where people are strangely and supernaturally encouraged, and
7. Reaches out in love and service to family, friends and community.
This level of intentionality anchors the couple through any difficult times. It sure has us. Divorce is simply not an option—but neither is a lousy marriage. There is a determination for better communication, solving real issues, and building a lasting, satisfying friendship. Good marriages honour God.
He wants our marriage to be priority to all the competing options of our day. We need to commit to meet our spouse’s needs—to please them. Notice what is stated in 1 Corinthians 7:33-34:
“…a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife – and his interests are divided…a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband.”
Remember, our marriages matter to God. He wants our faith to be lived out in the four walls of our home first. Commit to the shared purpose of a kicking awesome marriage!
Law 2: Equal Voice
The second law of relational equilibrium is equal voice. Each spouse has the right to be heard. Both opinions matter. Now, opposites naturally do attract complementing each other’s personalities, temperaments and gifting. Though this is a good thing overall, one person is often stronger when it comes to couple interaction. If not careful, the more forceful spouse can dominate the conversation and control the direction of the relationship. The other spouse loses their voice.
Is your relationship really a safe one? Do each of you have the freedom to share how you feel without fear of reprisal or rejection? Are each of your opinions equally validated and integrated into your marital direction? Or is one of you calling all the shots?
This one-sided selfish tendency in marriage needs to stop. No topic should remain off limits; each should have the right to speak and give input into family decisions. Philippians 2:1–4 puts is as clear as you want to hear it…
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others (especially your spouse) above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the other.”
Marriage is two becoming one—two speaking as one voice—two selflessly blending their lives. It is not the cancelling one voice but the combining of two.
Law 3: Mutual Respect
The third law of relational equilibrium is mutual respect. It’s how you treat your spouse. There is no excuse for bad behaviour. You can’t just say you love people; you must really love them and show it by your actions (1 John 3:18). Give your mate your best behaviour not your worst! We are supposed to treat our spouse with gentleness and respect or God will not hear our prayers (1 Peter 3:7). Tough words.
There needs to be a deep commitment that you will treat each other well regardless of the level of frustration. There is no room for harshness, impatience or disdain. The relationship is maintained regardless of how difficult a disagreement may be. The goal of mutual respect is to keep showing patience, kindness, gentleness and the other good fruit from God’s spirit.
We can see how to maintain this closeness in Colossians 3:12-14:
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience [toward your spouse]. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together [your spouse and your whole family] in perfect unity.”
Applying the Laws of Relational Equilibrium will give you a chance to experience a God-honouring balance in life’s most important relationships. Discuss them with your mate. If needed, move toward your spouse today. Start today toward Doing Family Right…God’s way.
**NOTE: If you, your marriage or family is in crisis, seek creditable support right away. Our DFR Care Centre has a team of counsellors ready to help. We can counsel you in person if you are in the Fraser Valley, or via phone or video conferencing if you live farther away. To inquire about counselling or book an appointment, please fill out our Counselling Request Form. You can also call our DFR message centre to leave your request: 604-556-1116 or email us: firstname.lastname@example.org
© Dr. Dave Currie
Feature image used with permission by pexels.com