Do You Really Want a Balanced Marriage?
My newlywed friend was describing the first few months of marriage with an exasperated voice. The transition to one household wasn't going particularly smoothly, and the stress of the holidays didn't make things easier. "We are still working on finding the right balance between us," she offered.
Hmmmm. "Balance." Right.
There's the word I hate again.
Fortunately, she was asking for advice, so I didn't mind sharing my annoyance with the balance myth.
Sure, the idea of "balancing needs" sounds admirable, like negotiating a fair deal where His Side roughly equals Her Side. It should be easy since both parties love each other. The annual guys' trip is off-set by her frequent Girls' Night Out. Her sloppy vanity is no worse than his messy car. He won't complain about her sister if she doesn't complain about his mother. His gross drink-from-the-milk-carton thing is no worse than her awful habit of clipping her nails on the couch. Strike a balance on everything.
On and on it goes.
Unfortunately a negotiated marriage is difficult to sustain because, at its core, relationships don't thrive when you're monitoring compliance and keeping score. I've spent my career negotiating, and I don't want this in my marriage. I don't want to worry about whether or not my habits, desires, or needs are properly weighted against his needs.
Balance in marriage is akin to balancing two different architectural styles in a home. It's like making sloppy additions where the country-styled kitchen opens to a modern family room. A house where you slap a room on here and there without considering the overall design never feels quite right. The joy is in finding new ways to build a life together in a distinctive way.
After all, did you get married to be balanced? Isn't life a greater adventure than that? Don't you want to create something NEW?
Be willing, I told my friend, to aim for something bolder than balance!