Everything in Marriage is About Balance

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If you think about it, everything in life, and marriage (since that is our topic here) is about balance.  There are very few times in a marriage where what is at issue is a definite Right or Wrong.  We can probably all name those on the fingers of one hand.   Most things is life happen in the interplay between what we might call bookends.  Many aspects of marriage happen between the bookends of two life principles, both of which are necessary for balance.  Let’s look at one example and then we will enumerate some of the others.  For example, parenting happens between the bookends of structure and nurture. I would say that these are the bookends of good parenting, because good parenting includes both.

Structure has to do with how things work.  Some other words for structure include principle and discipline.  Structure is something that we give to our children in order to teach them how the world works, what they can do to achieve certain goals and how to set up routines so that everything must not be thought about as though for the first time. This aspect of parenting is about showing the child how to do something they didn’t already know how to do.

Nurture has to do with cherishing the child just as they are.  When we nurture a child we validate and express appreciation for whatever they feel in the moment.  We reflect back to them in a nonjudgmental way, just what we experience of them in the moment, for example, “you are drawing a picture,” or you feel angry about that,”  or “you like to choose what to wear.”  Nurture takes into account extenuating circumstances and allows for exceptions to the rule.  Nurture lets the child lead with how to proceed in any given situation.

Between the bookends of life is where we are challenged to find balance.  In the case of parenting, if we do not strive for balance we will be doing the child a disservice.  For example too much structure kills initiative on the part of the child.  If the child is overly consumed with what is expected of them, they will either become compliant or rebellious.  On the other hand, if a child has too much nurture, they will lack abilities that must be learned in order to get along in the world, like how to respond to other people’s needs and how to achieve things that they will want in life.  What is optimal for children is to have a balance between structure and nurture.

Here are some other bookends of marriage:  separateness and togetherness, doing things for others and doing things for the self, spending time together with friends and spending time together one-on-one.  Emotional intimacy, sexual intimacy.  Getting stuff done, relaxing.  Resolving conflict, having dates.  Security, adventure.  I’m sure you can think of many others.

Finding the balance that is just right for each couple is one thing I do in couples therapy.   Oftentimes, one spouse is upholding one of the bookends, and the other spouse, the other bookend.  When this is the case, it is easy for the dynamics between the two to polarize.  That is, the more one touts the merits of their bookend, the more the other lobbies for theirs.  Differences can become too wide to resolve when polarizing sets in.  I help couples stop the polarizing and find the balance.  Working out the differences in marriage counseling is often about finding a balance between the two aspects of the whole.  That is exactly what I help couples to do.  I help couples become the great team they can be, because when it comes to life’s bookends, it take BOTH!

If you are experiencing this challenge or any other in your marriage, give me a call at 512-659-8600.  I’d love to help you give marriage counseling a try.  With 36 years of experience, I have helped hundreds of couples resolve their differences and become the great team they have always wanted to be.