Monday, 26 July 2010

Is Your Marriage a Victim of PI?

The vast majority of us consider ourselves better than average drivers; only two percent of high school seniors believe their leadership skills are below average; ninety-four percent of university professors report doing above-average work; and most of us believe that we are better able to provide a more accurate self-assessment than our peers.

These are all examples of PI or “positive illusions”. I certainly would not consider most of the drivers I see on the road as above average. It seems difficult to find real leaders, so where are all these high school grads? During much of my undergraduate and MBA work I must have found the six percent of professors who weren’t above average – lucky me.

In their book Switch, authors Dan and Chip Heath state that, “Positive illusions pose an enormous problem with regard to change.” I would propose that PI pose an enormous problem to most troubled marriages. Most marriage counselors would tell you that one of the biggest obstacles to helping couples is that each partner tends to blame the other for the condition of their marriage. “If only she would...if only he didn’t” we would be fine. Unfortunately counseling doesn’t work that way, i.e. you bring me the other person’s problems and we’ll get him/her to change. It works best when the couples come in with the attitude that their marriage does not glorify God and that each acknowledges that they are responsible for the condition of the marriage and want to know what they need to do to change.

If Jesus had been a marriage counselor he might have said, “ Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your husband/wife’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your husband/wife, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your husband/wife’s eye.” (Matthew 7:3-5)

So you may be suffering from the positive illusion that you are most likely better than the average husband/wife. In a country where the divorce rate for first time marriages approaches 50% and is much higher for second and third marriages and where an additional 25 to 30% of couples are staying together in a destructive relationship because of the kids or for financial/social reasons it is no big deal to think that you are better than the average. That is setting the bar so low that a chipmunk would have a hard time crawling underneath it. The average husband/wife shouldn’t be the bench mark, the bench mark should be God’s Word.

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