When Brian and Jenny, parents of three, were first married, they struggled with Brian’s attendance at the many gatherings of aunts, uncles, grandparents, and cousins hosted by Jenny’s side of the family. Feeling that the gatherings were taking away from time with his friends and his life outside the extended family, Brian would often come late, leave early, or skip events entirely. “This led to frustration and hurt feelings on both our parts,” Jenny says.
Eventually the two decided that Jenny would tell Brian which gatherings she most wanted him to attend. Brian, in turn, would commit to attending those from start to finish, but with the understanding that he would get a pass on the less important events. “Interestingly, after I changed my expectations and took a more low-key approach, Brian joined me at most gatherings, and he was always at the most important ones. Now this is no longer an issue in our marriage,” Jenny says.
Compromise is a staple of any good marriage, but it can be elusive. Most compromises have a bit of pain attached, as we give up some of what we desire in order to meet the needs of the other. In a strong marriage, spouses communicate so as to understand each other’s feelings and needs, making decisions accordingly.
Let dialogue move you toward compassion. Jamie Lynn and her husband, Deepak, parents of two small children, have found that when they disagree, the best first step is to talk. “Before we even entertain the idea of compromise, we first have a dialogue session to try to understand each other’s perspectives,” Jamie Lynn says. “We take turns talking and listening. The goal of our dialogues is not to find a compromise and definitely not to convince the other that I am right. The goal of our dialogues is to truly understand and validate the other person’s perspective.” As the conversation continues, compromise becomes possible.
“We find that from this place of understanding, compassion naturally arises,” Jamie Lynn says. “Every conflict becomes an opportunity to strengthen our marriage and understand each other more deeply.” …to be continued next week
By Annemarie Scobey, from the pages of At Home with Our Faith, Claretian Publications’ print newsletter for parents on nurturing spirituality in the home. Winner of the Best in Class award in 2014 from the Associated Church Press, as well as a First Place General Excellence award from the Catholic Press Association for four years running. Here’s a sample issue.
We offer very low rates for parish use, as well as our free Moms’ Night Out monthly discussion guides.
And don’t miss our popular single-page parish handouts on handing on the faith, helping kids understand the Mass, Lent, and Advent.