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Part One: Different People, Different Dreams
Husbands Who Didn't Plan on Reading This Book
For Wives Who Didn't Plan on
Reading This Book
1. The Four Stages of Marital Conflict
2. I Have a
Part Two: The Seven Conflicts of Marriage
Protection and Provision
4. Loyalty: Faithfulness and Priority
Obligation and Expectation
6. Caring: Awareness and Initiative
Structure and Control
8. Openness: Sociability and Energy
Communication and Decision Making
Part Three: Resolving the
10. What Are We Fighting For?
11. Taking the First Steps
12. Taking the Next Steps
13. Moving Toward the Fence
14. Speaking the Truth in Love
15. Revisiting the Seven Conflicts...
Security, Loyalty ,and Responsibility
16. Revisiting the Seven Conflicts...
Caring, Order, Openness, and Connection
17. Marriage to a Difficult Man-or Woman
Tim: Our son Tommy learned to ride a bicycle without training wheels at the glorious age of three. I couldn't have been prouder.
Joy: I was proud of him, too, but three was a little early. I wanted him to be safe.
Tim: To see my son racing off down the sidewalk at only three was a real thrill for me. It was a part of my dream-kids who were free to go where they want, when they want. As I said in the last chapter, I grew up with a lot of freedom myself.
Joy: Sure, Tim had a lot of freedom, but what he's not telling you is that he's only alive today because of the sheer grace of God. Did he mention that he once set his pants on fire by mounting model rockets to his handlebars?
Tim: Batman's bike had those. It was very cool.
Joy: I imagine all the moms grabbing their children when Tim went riding by, scrambling into the house, and bolting all the doors. He had more visits to the emergency room in his first six years of life than Jackie Chan.
Tim: It was mostly for head injuries. Believe me, Joy's gotten a lot of mileage out of that.
Joy: Tim once burned down two of his father's prize evergreens in their front yard. He once shot a hole in his father's shoulder with a bottle rocket gone astray.
Tim: Now that you mention it, Dad did seem to be angry a lot.
Joy: I could write pages. When I grew up, I had a mother who always knew where I was going and who I'd be playing with. Is it any wonder that with Tim's history of freedom and independence, I would value security more than he does? I didn't go through twenty-one hours of labor with Tommy just to have him perish in his first adventure with his dad.
The Two Sides of Security
In your own marriage, one of you will instinctively place a higher value on Security. Security is the need to be safe, the desire to know that you and yours are first of all protected from harm. Several responses from our survey revealed a desire for Security ...
I like to spend, and she likes to save. When we have a major purchase, be wants to buy new and the most expensive quality. I would prefer to spend less but still get the job done. I want to feel secure-in his love, in my home, in our marriage, with him versus his family, financially-and I would like him to lead us spiritually (I long for this). Why does he feel the need to spend the extra money we have instead of saving it? I always wait until he's in bed and then I double-check the door, because sometimes he forgets to lock it. Why am I always the one who tucks the kids in at night? Why does he have to save everything? Why can't he throw anything away?
Dangers come in many forms-physical and emotional, real and imagined-and so the dream of Security is a tree that puts out many branches. There are two chief offshoots from this tree: the desire for Protection and the desire for Provision.
Protection: Safety First
Protection in its most basic form is the instinct for survival, but it covers a lot more. Protection also includes the longing for safety, stability, and even comfort. Commercials that air at Christmastime show families snuggled together around the fireplace, images of warmth and love and Security. A protected family is one that has everything it needs to be safe, warm, dry, and happy.
Provision: Preparing for Future Needs
Provision is the desire to make sure everyone has enough, a desire that makes it necessary to both collect and save. Provision is concerned not only about the present but the future. Sure, we have enough now-but what about tomorrow? "Look at an ant," Proverbs advises us. "Watch it closely; let it teach you a thing or two. Nobody has to tell it what to do. All summer it stores up food; at harvest it stockpiles provisions" (6:6-8 THE MESSAGE). If you value Security, this may be your life verse.
Because Security looks to the future, it would rather save than spend. "Do we have to spend that much? It would be nice-but if we spend it today, we won't have it tomorrow."
Because Security wants to provide, it would rather collect than throw away. "I know we no longer need this, but what if we get rid of it and then we need it again? If we save it, we have it, and it'll be there just in case."
Because Security wants to protect, it has an aversion to risk. "Why do you want to try that? There are a lot safer things we can do that are just as fun." It isn't that the one who dreams of Security doesn't want to have fun-it's just that she's valuing something more. A dream isn't simply a matter of preference; a dream is a nonnegotiable, an essential priority. She's willing to take risks, to seek adventure, and to seize the day-as long as everyone is safe. Security comes first.
By the way, in case you're getting the wrong idea here, the dream of Security isn't gender specific. We don't mean to suggest that men are always the risk takers while women are always seeking to Protect and Provide. Our dreams are influenced by our family of origin, our built-in temperament, and the culture around us. Men who were born in the Great Depression era are often far more security oriented than men and women of later generations-and today's difficult economy can produce the same effect. If your childhood home was unstable, you may have an increased desire for Security as an adult. If your childhood home was especially warm and secure, you may long to reproduce that environment in your own home. It's difficult, if not impossible, to ascribe our deepest longings to a single cause. The point here is that either one of you may have the dream of Security.
But there is one variable that tends to tip the scale of Security toward women-the arrival of children. As Joy said earlier, "I didn't go through twenty-one hours of labor with Tommy just to have him perish in his first adventure with his dad." Women have a greater original investment in children, and they often sense that the greater burden of the children's Security continues to be theirs. Marriage is where life gets serious-but parenting is where life gets critical. Children are like a lens that focuses and magnifies the fears and longings of parents. We value our own Security, but we can get frantic about our children's safety. We may have only a minor desire for Security as a single person or as a young married, but when children come along, we sometimes find that our minor desire has blossomed into a full-blown passion.
Security comes at a price. It often requires you to limit your freedom in some way-and that's how the argument begins. If Protection and Provision are not your natural priorities, then your Security-minded partner can seem like a killjoy. Why can't he lighten up? Why can't he stop worrying about everything? You have to take some risks, or what's the point of being alive?
But if Security is your priority, then your risk-taking partner seems just plain irresponsible. After all, it's safety we're talking about here, and surely that comes before everything else. Fun is good, risk is good, but let's not get carried away. We are responsible here. Let's not enjoy today at tomorrow's expense.
When you discuss these issues in your own marriage-and you undoubtedly do-you may have never realized that it's Security you've been discussing all along. That's because Security is a hidden issue, remember? We fail to recognize the Security issue as such because it comes to us in the form of a dozen smaller, seemingly unrelated arguments. They don't look like conflicts about Security-they look like arguments about money and irresponsibility and overprotecting the kids. The goal is to look behind the apparent disagreement and ask, "What are we really fighting about here?"
Let's observe a few disagreements from the marriages of couples we've interviewed and see if you can spot the root of Security underneath.
He: Isn't this a great vacation? She: Yeah. Great. He: How did you like the parasailing? Wasn't that incredible? She: Uh-huh. How much did that cost, anyway? He: Only forty bucks. She: Each? He: It was worth it. Where do you want to go for dinner tonight? She: I was thinking maybe I could cook tonight. There's a little kitchenette in the room ... He: What's your problem, anyway? She: What problem? He: I went all out to plan this vacation-first-class airfare, beachfront hotel room, four-star restaurants-and all you do is drag your feet. She: Does everything have to be so ... expensive? He: There you go again! You never want to have fun anymore.
The husband in the scenario above thinks they're disagreeing about their approaches to fun. He fears that his wife no longer wants to be his recreational partner, something that's very important to him. She's no fun anymore.... Maybe she's getting older. Maybe she's just getting dull! Before long all she'll want to do is lie around the house and watch TV.
He might also conclude that they're fighting about money. All she wants to do is hoard money! What's the point in saving money if you never get a chance to spend any of it? We're not going to be young forever. By the time she's ready to spend some money, we'll be too old to enjoy it.
But they aren't disagreeing about having fun, and they're not disagreeing about money. Those are just the apparent conflicts. Underneath it all, they're arguing about Security. She needs to know that this no-limits vacation won't put them in debt for the rest of their lives. She wants to enjoy the present, too, but not at the expense of the future-not at the expense of Security.
He: Look what I found in the trash can. Our toaster! She: It's our old toaster. He: You weren't going to threw it away, were you?
She: Of course. We just bought a brand-new one.
He: But it still works. Look, I'll plug in ... See? She: Why would we save the old toaster when we have a brand-new one? We don't need two toasters. He: What if the new one breaks? It's good to have a backup. She: Greg, our attic is filled with "backups." He: Why would you threw away a perfectly good toaster? She: If it was "perfectly good," why in the world did we buy a new one? He: I just don't like to waste things. I guess my family didn't have money to burn like yours did.
The husband's desire to save a worn-out toaster even after they've bought a new one seems downright irrational to his wife-and he has a hard time explaining it himself. He tries to offer a logical rationale-the need for a backup, the moral responsibility not to be wasteful-but deep inside, all he knows for sure is that it feels wrong. He doesn't want a toaster; he wants Security. If one toaster breaks, now they have another. They're Protected. Now they can Provide, even if it's only half-browned toast.
But the argument is about to get ugly. In his desperation to provide a rational explanation for his desire, he suggests that it's really all his wife's problem. His wife is wasteful, and, worse than that, she picked up the bad habit from her family. "The best defense is a good offense," the old saying goes, and this man has put it into practice. But he has forgotten another ancient piece of wisdom: "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger" (Proverbs 15:1).
This couple couldn't see the forest for the trees, and now they may spend the rest of the evening arguing about anything but Security.
She: Alex forgot his umbrella again. He: You're kidding. Again? She: Now I'm going to have to drop it off at his school. He: Why?
Excerpted from ONE OF US MUST BE CRAZY ... AND I'M PRETTY SURE IT'S YOU by TIM DOWNS JOY DOWNS Copyright © 2010 by Tim and Joy Downs. Excerpted by permission.
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