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Reactions to “Learning to Manage a Marriage Relationship”

by JACK HAMILTON

Co-Author of Conflict The Unexpected Gift

I wrote at the end of my last blog post: “For an agreement to be balanced (between two marriage partners), it is important for each person to be willing to be open to, and consider, the other person’s ideas. In this way, they are showing commitment to the principle that the relationship is more important than being right.” A range of readers responded with their thoughts about these closing lines as well as about the entire blog post. I’ve included some of them so you can compare their comments with a marriage relationship you’ve experienced.

A male high school senior:

Reading your blog post was quite interesting to me because I think I share a view on marriage that a lot of young people have today. Marriage is a relationship that lasts for life. It is a relationship built much more in the mutually beneficial category, with many things like your job, home, and possibly kids being based off your partner because they provide the other half of everything. Because it is such a long-term relationship, it is much more important to find a partner that you don’t argue with as much, or at least can resolve arguments with in a civil way. When someone says that the relationship is more important than being right it means two things. The first is that something that is going to last a long time like the relationship is more important than an argument that may only last a short time. And the second is that each partner must be willing to put the other person before himself, even though it has to go both ways. Otherwise, if you are always the one sacrificing for the other person, then it is not a healthy relationship.

A female physical therapist:

Seeing the rightness of someone else’s approach takes a lot of intellectual and psychological bravery. It also presupposes a relationship that one values more than being right. It doesn’t happen frequently enough in many different realms: familial, communal, professional, societal, governmental, and political. Oh yes, and international.

A female administrative assistant:

You wrote in your blog, "In this way, they are showing commitment to the principle that the relationship is more important than being right." This line clinches it all. It is an excellent and most important point that can make ALL the difference in the world in any relationship. I’ll have to remember this principle and work on it personally. I’ve given it a little more thought, in the meantime. I think that there are times, when it is important that I make my point because it is important to me as well as to the relationship I have with my husband.

A semi-retired great grandmother:

All too often, one or the other partner in a marriage relationship makes a point but without exploring it with the other one. By standing firm on their point, without having that discussion and opening up the feelings and views of both of them, they damage the relationship and become more and more estranged from each other. So, yes, they need to make their point but in such a way as to open rather than shut off communication. I'm currently listening to Wallace Stegner's novel, Angle of Repose. In the book, Stegner devotes a great deal of time to the marriage relationship between two of the main characters. Sometimes, I felt that they hadn't really considered the damage they were doing to each other, to themselves and to the marriage by each one insisting on "being right." It looks to me as if the Golden Rule needs to be honored: Is this as good for the other as it is for me? Is it good for all concerned?

 A male retired architect:

I couldn’t agree with you more in what you say in your blog. I’d also add another factor, and that is to have a successful long-term relationship where the partners work well together, a couple must like each other. I know of many marriages wherein it seems the partners have grown to hate each other, or maybe “hate” is too strong a word. It clearly is the case, though, that they don’t like each other anymore! And they tend to take every opportunity to denigrate each other.

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