The Tension in My Marriage

So what do my marriage, my ministry, and my business all have in common?  They are all things that I get the incredible privilege of leading.  So it makes sense that I would want to invest in my own leadership by attending great trainings and conferences.  One such conference happened last week, the Willow Creek Association’s Global Leadership Summit.  From the very first talk, presented by Bill Hybels, I knew that I would be dual tracking with what I was hearing: it would affect both my ministry and my business.  But it wasn’t until the final talk of day 1, given by Andy Stanley, did it occur to me that this would also affect how I lead my marriage.

His talk was simply that compelling and hit me right where I was, -er-… am.  He helped me put some great words and flesh out a series of thoughts that had been swirling around my head and my heart as it related to my marriage.

The concept was simple.  All too often we see problems as something that need to be solved.  As a man, I relate to this.  It’s my role, my nature to solve problems.  I am keenly aware that when I’m talking with Penny about problems she’s facing that I have to stifle my tendency to offer advice to help her solve her problem and instead just listen and be in it with her (something I’m still not so great at I fear).

And while it is true that there are some problems that need to be solved, there are other “problems” that aren’t really problems at all.  Rather they are tensions, opposing forces that co-exist, and its the job of the leader to not try to solve these “problems” but to leverage these tensions to advance the organization.

I think some great examples of this in the real world would be like in business, there is a tension that companies that during hard times, there is a need to spend money advertising and making your business the best it can be, but you also have to conserve money as much as possible.   You’ve got to please not only your customers but also your shareholders.  In education, school presidents and principals often face the daunting task of providing the best and most well rounded educational experiences, but when you only have the funds to offer a certain amount of classes, which is important- the arts or the core studies?  In churches, there is an tension between reaching out beyond your own walls and caring for your own.

Tensions.  Opposing forces.  Mars and Venus. Yin and Yang.  Superman and Lex Luthor.  They don’t go away.  They aren’t problems to be solved.  They aren’t meant to live in harmony.  But what if we could leverage that tension to push our organizations farther faster.  But how- how in the world does this happen?  Stanley offers some great advice for how to make this happen.  He says to come to know and recognize and embrace the Rhythms of the Seasons.

In business, there are seasons where you have to spend money and get the word out.  There are seasons when you stop spending money.  They are natural to your business.  Go with it.

In schools, there is a time to study the core subjects, and a time to study the arts.

In church, there is a time when you rally the troops and spend the energy to reach out to the community and those around you.  There is also a rhythm to rest and recharge your people, when the pace should slow.

Rhythms of Seasons.  Go with them.

So it occurs to me, if those tensions exist in other places, surely they exist in my marriage as well.  And that thought got me thinking…what are the things that I might perceive as “problems” in my marriage to be solved but in reality, they are tensions to be leveraged to help my marriage grow and thrive and be all that it was intended to be?

Well, I’m still figuring that one out.  I forsee a night soon, maybe a date night, where we’ll try to talk about it.  Invest in a deep way in our own relationship.  So immediate ones come to mind- work vs play.  Time together vs alone time.   Sexy time or time to go to bed?

So what are the tensions in your marriage?  In your dating relationships?  Let me know, tell me your story or leave a comment.

  1. Hey Brent… lovet his post. It is a great clarification — that tensions are often opportunities for growth, rather than problems to simply solve and move beyond. You offer great humility in your posts. I like that, and I try to embrace such humility as well. When I speak to wives about marriage, I often say that we (husbands and wives) never stop learning how to be married. That’s true for marriages that are 6 months old and true for marriages that are 60 years old! Yea!

    thanks again for the post! Glad you liked the conference and have picked up such applicable points.

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