Feb 18 • 5M

How much should we bend to make our marriage work?

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Honest, candid and straightforward ideas for living a fulfilling life and reaching our potential. Hiya. I'm Matthew Royston, the husband of one, father of four, and The Bold Brit [honest, candid, Inspiring]. I grew up in Bristol, England but currently enjoy living in Utah, United States. I want to live a fulfilling life, reach my potential, and help others do the same. I have concluded that progress in our personal development, robust personal relationships, deep and abiding faith in Jesus Christ, and having a healthy body and mind are the core components of a fulfilling life. The rest of life is often insignificant, or unimportant.
Episode details

Marriages fail all the time. It’s almost a complete certainty that you know someone in your close social circle that has experienced divorce or is in the process of divorce. Perhaps you yourself are considering pulling the plug on your marriage.

The claimed or stated reasons and causes for divorce vary from couple to couple and I personally am in no position to judge or shed light on any given marriage. However, I do want to share a thought I had as I sat talking around a dinner table several months ago.

The question was asked, "How much should someone be willing to bend to make a relationship work?"

It's a fair and honest question.

I'm sure you'd have answered it differently than I did, and with just nine years of experience, I would hardly profess myself to be an expert on marriage. But I nevertheless endeavored to give my best answer.

I have since reflected on the answer I gave and have refined it just a little as I am writing this. Here it goes...

Anyone who has flown on an airplane will have likely observed when looking out of the small oval window that a planes wings flex up and down throughout the entire flight. This is intentional. This flexibility engineered into the wing allows the plane to be lighter, improve aerodynamics and helps with lift. In short, flexibility makes the plane take off and stay up.

But it’s also true that if a wing flexes under too much pressure it can fatigue and become damaged. And in a worst case scenario could completely snap. In all these cases, the plane ceases to be safe and could cause a flight to end in failure.

It also goes without saying that a plane needs two wings to fly. It cannot fly if one wing flexes and the other is static. Neither will a plane fly with only one functioning wing.

I think you can already see how this relates to our marriages.

Successful marriages require some measure of flexibility from both partners. It will not work if one or both are static, rigid and unyielding. Life has its curveballs and problems. Individual wants, needs, and desires change and fluctuate over time. Children come and go. There are disappointments and unexpected opportunities. Life has turbulence!

Without some measure of flexibility from both husband and wife, a marriage is destined to struggle and possibly end in failure.

Whilst marriage does require flexibility, it is important that neither partner bends to the point of fatigue or damage. If one partner is expected to always bend, eventually they break. And a broken spouse like a broken wing typically means one thing... it's coming down!

Of course couples need to be united as one. But being one doesn't mean morphing into each other. It's good and healthy to maintain a personal identity within the marriage relationship. There will need to be some sacrifice and foregoing of things along the way, but bending too much, either by choice or compulsion, often leads to bitterness and resentment.

So how much flexibility should there be, and when should a spouse stop bending?

I can't and won't tell you how much you need to flex or whether you or your partner are bending too much or too little. Just as each model of aircraft is different, with different wings, different maximum loads, and varying flex in their wings, every marriage is unique.

The ultimate answer to these questions lies with you personally and as a couple. You must determine how much flex you need, and how much bend is too much.

The only definitive thing I will say that I believe to be true of all marriages is this; we need to be flexible, but we cannot afford to allow ourselves or our spouse to bend until they break.

Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments and let’s start a conversation.

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