IMG_2002“You got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ‘em.”

                                                                      Don Schlitz, songwriter

They had enjoyed 42 good years together until he left this world for the next great adventure.  As his widow and I chatted about the gifts of marriage, we concurred that most couples work through at least one very challenging time in their marriages.  She said for her and her spouse, it was when she became aware that she needed to do more than be a stay-at-home mom, which is what her husband preferred.  She dreamed of starting her own floral business.  After praying about the situation, she chose to follow where her heart led.  She happily and successfully ran her own business for 22 years.  Her husband ended up being very proud of her, and her enjoyment of her work actually enhanced their union.

This reminds me of one of my favorite guiding bits of wisdom that I used often in my professional life, where my role required me to help resolve opposing points of view — “You got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ‘em.”  I find this serves well in marriage as well.  

But, how do I know when to hold ’em and when to fold ’em?  If my spouse and I don’t see things the same way, it often means something or someone has to give.  For me, the first step is to pray.  Next, I work on being willing to see things differently, including my spouse’s point of view. If I am not willing, I am not in a good position to make a decision based on what is in the best interest of us as a couple.  I want to wait until I am willing.  

Then I may ask some insightful questions.  How does the decision affect the marriage as a whole? Who is most affected by the decision? Who has the most invested in the outcome?  Does it even have anything to do with me, or am I meddling in his business, figuring I know what’s best for him?  Then I pray again —and mean it. It’s easy to trick myself into thinking I’m asking for God’s answer when I really just want God to support what I want.  When I feel a deep certainty about my decision, I can be comfortable that I’m on the right track.  What follows will most likely bless both of us.

I will take steps to reach that place of quiet certainty before I decide whether to hold firm or yield.  If I decide to yield, I may discover that I like my spouse’s plan more than mine.  Or better yet, we may come to an agreement that we both like better than anything we had considered before.

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