Unity is vital to a happy and healthy marriage. It is the glue that makes you and your spouse truly start to become one, to become a team. Once married, things aren’t about "his way," or "her way," anymore. Instead, they are about “your,” way - together.
The purpose of marriage is to become better together than you could be on your own. Marriage is about unity. Marriage is about teamwork. It’s about learning to see together, dream together, and achieve together. And ultimately, it’s really all about your hearts becoming one.
So, how do you nurture unity in marriage?
Here are three key principles that will help you and your spouse learn to work together as a team in order to reap all the benefits that unity has to offer.
1. Respect and value each other.
In order to learn to be a team, you have to recognize that as husband and wife you are equals. Neither of you is better than the other. His method of washing dishes may be different than yours, but that doesn’t mean your method is the best way, or the only way.
Unity doesn’t diminish the individual, it combines all the good about each of you and brings that together to form a powerful team.
Respect and value the way your spouse sees and does things. Look for opportunities to learn from your spouse. Perhaps he likes a really clean car, and you couldn’t care less. Respect his desires, and value his need for order and cleanliness. As time goes on, his desires for cleanliness may just rub off on you and you will only become better for it.
A great leader, Richard G. Scott, once taught,
“For the greatest happiness and productivity in life, both husband and wife are needed. Their efforts interlock and are complementary.”
Yours is the task to learn to work together and to embrace each other’s strengths and weaknesses. If she is really great with finances and numbers, let her take the lead in that arena. If he is practically a professional chef, let him lead out in planning and cooking meals.
Unity can also help you two combine your strengths and resources, to be even better together than you could be alone. Perhaps she is a bit strict with the children and you are overly generous and kind. If so, unity can help you two work together to come to an even better way of parenting, one that will really work for your marriage and family.
To achieve true unity, you have to stop trying to change each other. You can’t expect your spouse to be just like you. Instead, focus on his or her individual gifts, talents and attributes, and all that they contribute to the marriage.
This is especially helpful when it comes to conflict resolution. When you respect and value each other as equals, then it is much easier to recognize that conflict really is about the two of you against the problem or challenge, and not the two of you against each other.
2. Help and support each other.
Unity = teamwork.
Just because you have divided up household responsibilities, doesn’t mean you can’t pitch in and help each other out from time to time. Unity means that you work together to take care of your house. It means that the kids are "your," kids. It means the money (whether or not both of you work) becomes "your," money. The house is "your," house, etc.
Once you are married, everything becomes about the two of you together and not about how you used to do things in your single lives.
“Marriage, in its truest sense, is a partnership of equals, with neither exercising dominion over the other, but, rather, with each encouraging and assisting the other in whatever responsibilities and aspirations he or she might have." (Gordon B. Hinckley, Ensign, August 1992)
Unity is also required in order to help your spouse grow as an individual. You each have individual interests, dreams, and desires. Unity means supporting and encouraging each other. For example, you have to be unified about that cycling race she wants to participate in because it will take time, money, and support in order for it to be a positive experience (and not one that causes conflict in your marriage). You also have to be unified about his desire to improve his golf game. When you can get on the same page about the time and resources necessary for him to pursue that interest, you can find joy supporting each other, instead of fighting about all the time he has spent golfing the past three Saturdays.
As always, a healthy balance is necessary when it comes to individual pursuits and desires. That is why unity is so necessary. There will be times when one of you won’t want to support the other, and it may be because of the fact that your spouse has been gone a lot lately, or because his or her dream isn’t realistic at this season of life. As you communicate in order to come to a unity about things, you will be wiser about the way you spend your time (individually and together) and about the continual effort you are both putting into nurturing your marriage.
3. Make decisions together.
Decisions that require marital unity come up every day in married life. It’s vital to be united about when to have children, which job offer to accept, where to go on vacation, how much to spend at the grocery store, or whether or not you should have your elderly mother come live with you.
In order to learn to make decisions as a team, you need to learn to talk, listen and compromise. Recognize that you both come from different backgrounds and see things differently. As you share your expectations and listen to each other, you will come up with a solution together that is better than what you each could come up with on your own.
Now, unity doesn’t always mean you have to talk, and talk, and talk until you come to a compromise. Sometimes it will mean one of you giving in, or deciding to simply support your spouse’s position (This should usually only be the case in smaller decisions and not necessarily big decisions.).
In big decisions that will alter the course of your lives, it is vital that you work on things until you can both feel comfortable about making a decision in unity. It isn’t wise to simply let your spouse make the decision about whether or not you move out of state, or head back to school, or buy that new car.
Learn to work together and give things time, if needed, until you can both see eye-to-eye about things.
As you learn to talk, listen and compromise, your confidence in each other and in your decision making as a team will increase. You will recognize the strength and power that comes from coming to a decision together, a decision you can both support and move forward with.
Remember that once you have made a decision together, then stand together and don’t waver. Be loyal to each other. Speak highly of each other and the decisions you have made together.
As you learn to see eye-to-eye about things, you will notice that over time you start to see heart-to-heart about things, and you will truly start to become one. Then you will recognize the power and purpose of unity in marriage, and will be able to truly acknowledge that your spouse is your better half.
Photo Credit: Caitlinn Mahar-Daniels
"You come to love not by finding the perfect person, but by seeing an imperfect person perfectly."
You Know You Want to Read
Everybody Loves These