“But, that does not make sense.” How I have loathed hearing these words from my husband over the years! Pick a subject out of a hat at random – money, child-rearing, how to confront someone – and Eric and I have likely encountered conflict in that very area. Eric, who wants to receive complete clarity in every situation, will let me know if he does not find my point of view logical. Oh, how I want to scream at the top of my lungs in those moments…
I have also come to appreciate this quality in him. He does not always approach our disagreements as graciously as I would like, but he is faithful to bring me the truth. He refuses to stand idly by while I wallow in the swamp of deception. Whether I am voicing a theory about a friend, or refusing to rethink the context of a Scripture passage, Eric is ready and willing to take me on if he believes I am incorrect.
When I am angry with him, I want to cry out sarcastically, “Behold, the arrogant one! Look at the know-it-all! How can so much pride fit inside one mere mortal?” But, when the smoke clears and I see his heart, I realize he loves me; and, because he loves me, he hates to watch me walk down an untrue path – one he knows which will lead me astray. He challenges my beliefs because he loves me and not because he needs to be right.
Ten Reasons You Should Marry Someone who will Challenge Your Perspective
- You don’t need (or want) a yes-man (or woman). Have you ever spent time with a couple who got along so well it made you suspicious? No matter what the dominant partner said, the other one completely agreed? Such a relationship may seem appealing, particularly if you like to be in charge or you hate making decisions; but, unconditional agreement is not a healthy model. When Eric and I were first married, I was extremely hesitant to give my opinion. I trusted him and took comfort in his ability to make good decisions. Still, he would come to me with problems or pending choices and ask me for my thoughts. Afraid of giving him bad advice, I would clam up and say some version of, “Do whatever you think is best, Dear.” Finally, he lost it, and in a moment of frustration he exclaimed, “I need your opinion!!!” My failure to chime in left him carrying the entire load. He did not marry me so he would have someone to praise all of his plans. He married me so he could have companionship, a helpmate, and a partner. My perspective is important to him and helps him see different sides to each situation. If your significant other is only interested in saying, “Whatever you want to do, Honey,” do not proceed to the altar until you know he or she is willing and able to give you well-thought-out, mature advice.
- You don’t know it all. Say it ain’t so! Even though I would never have admitted it, I thought I knew a lot when I was a young bride. Eric thought he knew a lot too; and, though his six extra years of experience on this Earth did afford him more knowledge than me, we were both pretty naïve about life, love, and marriage. His perspective was (and continues to be) so different than mine; and, sometimes I am challenged by it every day of the week. At times, I want to scream, “Why can’t this marriage be easier?!?!?!” Which means, “Why can’t he just see the world through my eyes – the correct eyes?!” When he sees mountains, I see oceans. When he sees the sun, I see rain. No matter what the situation, we are bound to have vastly different ideas about how to handle it. But, you know what? I am stronger because he pulls back. I cannot take the world at face value. I have to consider different possibilities because I could not live happily in the same space with him if I refused. I don’t know it all (and neither does he) – and we have had the distinct pleasure of proving that to each other. ~smile~
- Everyone has skewed experiences. Have you ever watched a movie and then watched the same movie twenty years later only to discover the scenes were vastly different than what you remembered? It happens to me all the time. These movie moments make me question my other experiences. Maybe that person did not speak to me in the tone of voice I “clearly remember.” Maybe standing up to that playground bully in the fourth grade was not as heroic as my memory portrays it. Over the years, our outlooks can get thoroughly thrown off and it is good to have someone question our “perfect” recollections.
- The world will challenge your perspective. Perhaps you grew up in a home filled with like-minded people (as I did). Though there were some arguments, you and your family agreed on the major points of life. If this describes you, it will be a shock to marry someone who does not see every little detail your way. Though I am not recommending you find your complete opposite and go skipping down the altar (seriously), I do think you should look for someone who is willing to challenge your perspective. Why? Because if he or she does not, the world certainly will; and, it is so much easier to endure from someone who loves you than from a boss or co-worker. Sooner or later, you are going to face opposition, and it is easier when you have experienced it within a loving relationship.
- You might be wrong. Simply put, once in the next thirty years or so, you might be wrong about something and need someone to point you in the right direction. It happens to the best of us. ~wink~
- You might need to repent. One day in a moment of anger, I spoke extremely harshly about someone. Eric was the only other person present, but he did not take my comment lightly. Just a second after I hurled my insult, Eric looked me square in the eye and said, “You need to repent!” Childishly, I put it off because I wanted to be mad for a while – and who did he think he was to tell me to repent?! ~smile~ His reprimand did not feel good at the time, but it was what I needed, and I respected him all the more for it. What a joy it is to have a husband who turns me back to Christ.
- Those who are willing to risk our wrath to bring us truth are the ones who truly love us. It is unloving to withhold painful truths from someone simply because we do not want to deal with the discomfort. Proverbs 26:7 says, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.” Eric has always been willing to face my unpleasant reactions when he believes I need to hear the truth; and, because of his faithfulness in this area, I trust him all the more in other areas.
- You will grow! Whether you change your beliefs as a result of your partner’s perspectives or not, the very act of explaining and defending your beliefs will cause you to grow. My love for harmony often drives me to avoid uncomfortable discussions; yet, it is in the grueling seasons of my marriage when my most significant growth occurs. No earthly relationship has made me stronger than my relationship with Eric.
- You will gain greater confidence in your relationship. Have you ever dated someone who never confronted you about anything? If so, did you wonder if he or she was withholding negative feelings? Trudging through hundreds of uncomfortable conversations with Eric has helped me gain considerable confidence in our relationship’s ability to withstand struggles (by God’s grace, of course). If he held back, I would feel insecure.
- You will know how to improve. Honest mirrors are no fun to gaze upon; but, without them, we would never know how to improve ourselves. In his awesome book, Sacred Marriage, Gary Thomas says that God gives us a full-length mirror in our spouse – a mirror which exposes our sin without filters. When I was a teenager, the mirrors in our JC Penney dressing rooms made my thighs look amazing. It was a lie, but it was a “fun” lie. Tweaked mirrors give us a short, fleeting sense of satisfaction, but when it comes time to do some serious work on our look, we need the truth. Looking into the reflection of a candid loved one is unpleasant at first, but it gives us knowledge and direction. “You need to work on this problem area. Go.”
What Do You Mean I’m Not Right?
When Eric and I got married twelve years ago, I was pretty sure of myself. The way I was raised was correct. The way I interacted with my family was correct. My church denomination was correct. My beliefs were – you guessed it – correct! Nowadays, I am not as quick to assume my rightness in every situation. Such change is due in part to the aging process and realizing how little I know in this vast world; and, it is also due to living with Eric – a man who does not simply agree with me to keep his life easy. If I make a statement he believes is unwise, or downright wrong, he speaks up; he challenges me. When we are in the moment, I do not always like it; but, in the end, I am better for having the resistance in my life (shhh, don’t tell him!). It is wise to listen to differing perspectives and hold them up to the Word of God. If there is truth in what you hear, are you not so much better off for having heard it?
In the beginning, it is easier to enjoy a relationship with someone who does not push back against our thoughts, beliefs, and feelings; however, life is messy, and we do not need someone to slap makeup over our warts. We need someone who will yell, “Danger!!!” when we are about to step into oncoming traffic and someone who will risk life and limb to pull us off the ledge. I have dated yes-men and I have dated men who challenged me. The yes-men are easy to get along with, for the most part, but difficult to respect. Challengers frustrate us; exasperate us; and, at times, make us furious; but, they also force us to break out of our comfy boxes and see the world in a different light. They are partners we can respect.
There is a time and place for encouragement – and we are (read: should be) thankful to receive it. And, there is a time and place for resistance – and, though it hurts, it makes us stronger.
Is your boyfriend or girlfriend willing to challenge your perspective? Are you willing to listen to his or her perspectives?