Friday, August 9, 2013

Marriage V

The Battle of Wills

The Battle of Wills: Somehow is marriage we get to the place where there is a battle of wills. Each party, each spouse is trying to establish territory and rights. The strong willed strive to have the upper hand, be in control, rule the roost. The problem with this kind of exercise, which can go on for years, is that it is non-productive and harmful to the marriage and relationship.
The man has his challenge. He has been told he is the man of the house which usually is interpreted as the dictator of the house. His fellow cronies warn him of being run by a woman, where is his manhood, they wouldn’t take it and on it goes. The woman on the other hand is challenged by her female cadre with they would not put up with that and you cannot allow him to do that and who does he think he is?
With male and female machismo running hot and heavy, there is no place of peace and reconciliation. Marriage was not intended to be a battle of wills, but a place where two became one and worked together. The woman was meant to be a helper mate, part and parcel of the deal.
However, male and female gender differences and preferences will conflict with one another. Not maybe, but always. The process is to come to a place of respect and understanding of the differences and make them work together.
The problem is that once we get to the battle of wills, the emotional charge on both sides is so intense that no one is listening to the other. I remember being a counseling session and as we talked the woman was not listening; she was forming her next argument and rebuttal. The emotion was running so high that no one was looking for answers, but simply vindication of their position. At that point, there is no need to continue. Everyone needs a “timeout.” Go somewhere and calm down. 
In these times, women tend to lose sight of the current issue and use it as an opportunity to bring up everything from the past as part of the argument. They cloud the current issue with the failures and foibles of the past. There is then a sense of hopelessness in the debate and discussion because there is a realization that the past has never become the past. The man on the other hand wants to assert some kind of Tarzan approach where he-man, you-woman. The attempt is to make the woman a sub-creation that needs clubbed over the head and dragged to the cave. Neither of these approaches make anyone feel good or begins to answer the conflict.
Conflict resolution comes primarily out of meeting the needs of the other. It is imperative to understand what is driving the conflict and the position that is held by the man or the woman. Each gender has specific, innate, needs that have to be addressed by the spouse. To ignore the differences or ignore the innate needs is to live in a fantasy land and live in constant turmoil while blaming the other person for all the turmoil.
Woman who think that men think like them are grossly misinformed. And men who think woman are men who are just physically different are totally out of bounds. God has made us significantly different, but we need each other. The happily ever-after fairy tale world does not exist. It is definitely happy at times and hellish at other times. But the covenant is meant to be insoluble. This means God expects us to work through difficulty to a place where WE are working together and not against each other. So, the battle of wills is always a losing proposition. You can win the battle and lose the war in this situation. And, just because you think you won the argument does not mean it is over and done. Marriage is not a debate contest; it is real life and you have to live in it.
Each spouse should be looking for answers, not vindication. Men need to learn understand the wife’s concerns and the wife needs to learn to respect her husband and his views. Somewhere in there is the position of togetherness, love, and answers.
God intends for us to find these places of resolution; for in the resolution there is a building of trust and respect for each other. Caving to the other is not the answer, but working together is.

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