Friday, 9 July 2010

Marriage - What Does Adam Smith Have to Do With It?

Adam Smith was born in June of 1723 and no I wasn’t present at his baptism. He was a Scottish moral philosopher and pioneer of political economics. More specifically he believed that “growth” was rooted in the increasing division of labor. The idea relates primarily to the specialization of the labor force, essentially the breaking down of large jobs into many tiny components.

Hello – this is a marriage blog not a political science class. Right – so here’s the connection, a recent study indicates that one of the greatest stressors on today’s marriages is the perception that “household responsibilities are not managed fairly.”

Managing a household is a “large job”. By breaking the household chores down into many tiny components and each person doing what they do best and/or are able to do the couple will experience emotional growth.

This does not mean that the chores are necessarily divided in half. It has to do with a perception that each partner is pulling his or her own weight. It does not mean that gender or stereotypical roles should determine who does what. On a previous blog I have described how incredibly inept I am when it comes to fixing things. Kathleen, that would be my wife, is unbelievably clever and handy. I on the other hand am really good at doing dishes. She does not like to make phone calls, I’m happy to do so.  She can pay the bills but would prefer that I do it. I can cook but she is a gourmet extraordinaire. Neither of us likes to wash windows so we don’t, at least not very often.

The study conducted by Dr. Orbuch, concluded that “fairness, equity and respect are essential for marital happiness.” This is a topic you and your spouse need to talk about. Some spouses try to do it all rather than get into a hassle. Some spouses are very particular about the way things are done and would rather do it all and do it their way. This is a time to be honest with yourself and your spouse. As you look at the division of labor in your house would you say you are very satisfied, somewhat satisfied, somewhat dissatisfied of dissatisfied. Have this conversation with your spouse.

To those of you who think roles are gender specific I would say GET OVER IT! For those of you perfectionists who think the world would come to an end if a fork happened to turn up with the knives I would say GET OVER IT! For those of you who would rather do it all than create a hassle I would say that you are running a serious risk of becoming resentful which will manifest itself in your ability to be intimate.

What do you say?

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Love - A Study in Grammar

One of my favorite pastors is Andy Stanley. He has a knack of taking something that at first appears theologically complex and making it incredibly understandable and extremely practical. In his recent DVD series “Staying in Love” he goes after why marriages, on the whole, are not more successful, as he explores the difference between “falling in love” and “staying in love”.

He says, “It is easy to fall in love – all you need is a pulse.” We fall in love with characters in a book, with the local weather girl we see on TV, with the guy on the afternoon soap, or with the hat check person at the local restaurant. (Who checks a hat these days anyway?) Personally I have had a love affair with chocolate but let me stay on topic.

If you look up love in the dictionary the primary use of the word is as a noun. It can mean to have “an intense affection for, a feeling or attraction to, or an enthusiasm or fondness for”. In John13:34 Jesus commanded us to “love one another, as I have loved you, so you must love one another.” Jesus used the word as an action verb. And therein lays a gap that you could drive a tractor trailer through.

It is next to impossible to sustain the feeling of love over the long haul. Feelings may start out as the engine of the train of love but they are soon relegated to the position of the caboose.

However, when love is an action verb the implications are endless. This means I put you ahead of me, your needs ahead of my needs, and your deal ahead of my deal – well I think you get the point. Each day I make a conscious decision that I will find a way of expressing my love for my husband/wife. It is learning in what ways your spouse wants you to express love AND remembering that it is a dynamic process, i.e. it may change over time. It can be as simple as picking up one’s dirty clothes, a rose once a month, an e-card saying I love you, a hug, etc.

Staying in love can only happen when you treat love as an action verb.