Tip #2 Common Ground
**I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord.** Philippians 4:2
Individuality is an important aspect to bring to any relationship. Both individuals have strengths to offer and weaknesses that can be fortified by the support of the other. Mutual respect in marriage offers freedom to express oneself and know that one will be heard and valued. Neither partner should feel demeaned or made to feel inferior or that they do not have a voice in the day to day issues in the relationship.
If you’ve ever read a book like Men Are from Mars, Women are from Venus by John Gray you can clearly see that men and women are very different. There are lots of opportunities for miscommunication. Each looks at every situation from a completely different perspective. Men’s brains and women’s brains are wired in completely different ways. If you add to that the different temperaments described in the book Personality Plus by Florence Littauer, you have a chemical mixture that is destined for explosions from time to time.
The interesting thing about this verse in Phillipians is that the two characters, Euodias and Syntyche, are both women. They are being encouraged to have the same mind even though they don’t have the complication of being a man and a woman. Perhaps our conclusion can be that ANY two human beings living in the same space for any length of time sooner or later will have conflicts.
The Bible has a great deal to say about humility. It’s really an amazing study if you have the time. Pride and attitudes of superiority are the basis of most conflicts. One person thinks that they are completely right and the other person is completely wrong. One person thinks they are smarter than the other, therefore, worthy of controlling the other. One is always the Conqueror and the other is always the Defeated.
That’s why Paul encourages us to be of the same mind. The two women from our verse apparently had some differences of opinion that EVERYONE KNEW ABOUT. It appears that they made it public. I’m not talking about a simple disagreement over what color to paint the walls or who wants what for dinner. These two ladies got to a place where everyone knew their situation, had heard them fighting, because they had removed the normal barriers and they had made their fights public. Arguments, divisions, exaggerated opinions, and most likely criticism, insults, anger issues, and constant conflict was their norm. Their’s was not a relationship of mutual respect nor did it demonstrate a spirit of humility.
So how can we apply all of this to our marriages?
First of all, I think we need to read some good books. Starting with this chapter in Philippians, also, the Book of Proverbs. It is full of wisdom for all relationships. I mentioned two books at the beginning of this post and there are many more that give us a good understanding of the differences between men and women and how to improve our communication. And finally, we can look deeply into the relationships of Biblical characters like Ruth and Boaz, Abigail and her first husband, Abraham and Sarah and many others.
If you want to start right now with something practical, I encourage you to have a conversation with your partner about what is most important to each of you in your relationship. What things are the most hurtful? What things do you really love about it? What are each other’s strengths? What is ONE weakness that each has that can be worked on in the coming days? It is best to just deal with one. Don’t come up with a list. Take baby steps towards improvement and healing.
One of the positive aspects about the long season of Covid confinements and restrictions that we all experienced is that it has given my husband and I many hours to talk about these very things. We have spent some time affirming the strongest parts of our relationship. And we have improved on some of our weakest areas. The best part has been discussing what we want to do with the next 5-10 years of our lives together. It’s exciting to plan these coming years, knowing that we are of the same mind, heading in the same direction, and have the same priorities. All of this gives each day fresh meaning and purpose. It’s drawn us closer together.
My husband and I are very different. He loves basketball. Frankly, I think it’s pretty boring. I love sewing and quilting, really anything that has to do with fabric. My husband doesn’t know the difference between cotton and linen and wool. My husband is very athletic and has a ton of energy. I am not and do not.
But we have a handful of things that we are both completely connected on. They are our priorities for our relationship, our career choices, and our favorite pastimes, like traveling. We focus on what we have in common, and we give each other the freedom to enjoy our individual interests.
Healthy relationships take time and effort. I encourage you to find some common ground and strengthen those areas and cut each other some slack in the areas that you are different. FInd out where you are of the same mind and strengthen those things. Make them a priority. It will give you both a solid foundation to build on and to build a stronger and lasting marriage.