Unity between partners is planned
We are living in a democracy. This means to some that you need submit to no one. You are a law unto yourself.
Several years ago, the directors of a large industrial firm decided that some of their top-level leaders couldn’t express themselves well enough; therefore, they hired a professional to give these leaders a speech course. The group came together once a week for twelve weeks. There they were in submission, although not one of them was below the level of general manager.
We must submit ourselves to any organization of which we are a part. There must be a head to any organization. Whenever you put two or more people together, and where there is more than one will involved, you must have some limits, some rules, and some regulations so that all individuals are considered. Each member of the organization has his place and conforms to the limits prescribed for him. As everyone does his part, the organization becomes a smooth-working team, and accomplishes the goal that has been set. In any organization of people, when a member fails to do his assignments or attempts to do someone else’s, there is duplication of effort; tasks are left undone; and confusion follows.
A smoothly working marriage also requires teamwork. It is necessary that both the husband and the wife agree on what the place of the husband should be. It is necessary that both husband and wife agree on what the place of the wife should be. Marriage is more than a working agreement between two equal parties. It is rather a complementary union of two members, male and female, each of whom has a special responsibility. There should not be competition between husband and wife. Each has a definite, distinct place. The roles of husband and wife fit together like two interlocking pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.
The ideal relationship between people is expressed by Paul: ” … and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ” (Ephesians 5:21).
Verbal and mental unity
At this point you will find a review of Lesson 2 helpful. There we discussed the place of proper speech in achieving peace with yourself. Words are the means of revealing your innermost self to your partner. “Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones” (Proverbs 16:24).
Differences that arise between two partners need not constitute a major crisis. Pleasant words, exchanged in the proper spirit between two people rightly related to each other, can easily bring a meeting of minds. Words can be misunderstood, however. Partners must be sure that misunderstandings do not develop or continue because of differences in the definition of words. Words like thrift, neat, polite, considerate can have a wide range of meaning. Each partner needs to be quick to acknowledge it if misunderstanding of words becomes evident. Your constant, continuing purpose should be to understand and to clarify rather than to justify or defend yourself.
Your goal should be that expressed by Paul in his prayer:
“Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus, so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 15:5-6).
We are to think alike–to glorify God with “one mind and one mouth.” This is one of the basic tasks of marriage partners.
The following example illustrates what can happen when two people differ in their thinking and speaking, even though they use the same words.
A young couple had discussed plans for their marriage very thoroughly. The agreement was that they would establish a home just as soon as they were married. The courtship was a pleasant one. They rented an apartment, purchased furniture, and set the date. She gave notice to her employer that she was terminating her work because she was getting married.
From the start it was an unhappy marriage. This was the husband’s story: He said that he and his wife had agreed before their marriage that both would work hard at establishing a home. Instead, she quit working just as soon as they were married. “How can a home be established that way?!” he asked. He had meant that both would work, save their money for a down payment, and then purchase a house.
This was her story: She and her husband had agreed before their marriage that they would work hard to establish a home. She meant that she would quit her job, cook his breakfast, see him off to work, do her housework each day, have a piping-hot meal ready for him when he got home, and be there to greet him when he arrived. They agreed on the words, but meant very different things by those words. Each felt deceived by the other. Both the husband and his wife were sincere enough, but they misunderstood each other. They were not of the same mind. Each was amazed to realize that their unhappiness with each other was the result of a misunderstanding over the meaning of their agreement. They used the same words, but they were not thinking the same thoughts. Such a problem need never arise if both partners seek both verbal and mental unity.