Week 12: Transitions in Marriage: Power Relations and Children

A blog post about power in marriage… let’s see how this goes.  I’ll start out, because now that I know my husband is reading (wink wink) that my husband and I go back and forth with power in our marriage.  Power in our home is topic dependent.  Children we pretty much do together, especially on anything major.  He earns the money, I spend the money – both in paying bills and shopping.  It doesn’t really matter what relationship you are in, there is power – it may be pretty close to being equally distributed, but there is power none-the-less.

Dr. Richard B. Miller, Director of the School of Family Life at Brigham Young University wrote “The issues of power, control, and hierarchy are important in families.  Issues regarding power are at the root of many family problems.”  I whole-heartedly agree with his statement.  Not does he hold a PhD, but it just makes sense, doesn’t it?

Let’s talk about sex for a minute.  From previous readings, and blog posts, we learned and read that many marriages end in divorce over a sexual issue.  There is power in sex – power of giving, power of withholding, power of sharing.

Let’s talk about money for a minute.  We also know from many studies done that divorces happen over financial matters.  There is power in money.  Power to earn, power to save, power to spend, power to agree with your spouse on how to do these three.

Let’s talk about raising children for a minute.  We know that having babies and raising a family is HARD work (if you don’t know this, you’re probably living in a cave).  We also know that husbands and wives do not see eye to eye about everything.  If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know that I have five children, and am married for the second (and last) time.  My husband, however, only has one child.  She is our youngest.  My husband and I do not always see eye to eye on how to raise her.  She’s my fifth child… eh, it’s okay if she climbs on the back of the couch.  She is his first and only child: she CANNOT climb on the back of the couch, she could fall and split open her head.  We see differently on all sorts of parenting issues.  So what do we do about it?  We mostly laugh at one another, or maybe I laugh as my husband stares at me with his mouth gaping open.  She is my fifth child.  Kids bounce, they stitch up easy enough, they smile, they laugh, they love, they get mad, they don’t eat their supper, and the list could go on.  But here’s the deal:  sometimes you just have to agree to disagree, and then other times, someone has to give.  Parents have got to work together as a team (there is no I in team) to raise healthy happy children that bounce, break, laugh, love, and smile.  I no longer let our daughter climb on the back of the couch, I still don’t care if she does (if she falls off, she’ll learn not to climb up there) but I have conceded to my husband’s view because it makes him nervous and her safety is imperative to him.  Where’s the power in this?  In this scenario it is with my husband.  His power to have his child safe wins out over my “eh” feeling about climbing monkeys.  We didn’t fight about any of this either.  We just realized that we parent differently and when my husband noticed that I didn’t care about climbing and I noticed that he did, we talked about it, came to an agreement and there it is.

She’s four years old now, and she isn’t really into climbing anymore, but she is into running in the yard.  Big deal, right?  Well, I thought so, I still kind of think so.  I am grateful that we have fenced in the front of the property with a power gate so no one can come in while she’s playing outside. My husband on the other hand, is worried about ant hills and snakes in the spring grass.  I wasn’t raised here, I didn’t grow up around these creepy crawly things that can hurt you so I don’t tend to think about them.  She always wears her shoes outside (she doesn’t want to get a time out).  So, where’s the power?  Husband wins again, safety first.  And besides, I don’t want to deal with a snake bite.  I can’t even tell the difference from one snake to the next.  So, I don’t normally let her frolic into the backside of the property without a big person to watch for such things.

And to be clear… when I say who wins?  It’s not a competition, it’s not a game.  There is no keeping score.  It is one of us conceding to the other’s point of view for the greater good.  While the examples I used in this little post show me conceding, I promise it’s not always that way.  It’s a volley, we go back and forth, and sometimes we even land together right at the net.  Meet in the middle… it’s sometimes the best way to go.

Parenting and marriage is hard work, but when one (hopefully both) party in a relationship masters the art of compromise, parenting and marriage are so much sweeter!

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.


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