We've been talking about the basis and the foundation upon which you’re going to build effective relationships. I’ve been pointing out to you that whenever two or more people get together, mind you, this implies to two men that need to cooperate, two women that need to cooperate, this applies to a business partnership, this applies to a marriage, there’s nothing really unique about what goes into making a marriage work, it’s no different than making any other partnership work.
Now the foundation upon which you’re going to build this partnership is the objective of developing a mutually agreeable, and a mutually binding plan. That's what makes a marriage go. It’s not a tingle, it’s commitment. It’s a lifetime commitment to making the thing go. And it’s not competition, it’s cooperation.
Last time I told you about a gentleman who pasted his wife in the eye after nine years of marriage because they disagreed over what kind of shoes to buy for the children. Now that fellow, handsome, well educated, he had a good job, provided a nice house, but he and his wife had been competing over the same issues. They had fought over how to spend the money for nine years. Imagine fighting over any subject for nine years. How could that possibly be, that anybody would fight over anything for nine years? Well you see, what made that kind of an argument make sense, was selfishness.
When you are an athlete, and you look forward to playing a game, and you think about your opponent, you may even feel friendly toward your opponent. But when you consider him an opponent, he is somebody to beat, not somebody to cooperate with. Now when you think of your marriage partner as an opponent, then if you give in, you see, you’ve lost, and you feel defeated. Now I think this is a very important point to get straight. A partnership can only survive if people mean to cooperate. That's the only way it can survive. Not opponents, partners.
Not using your creativity and your ingenuity to outsmart and out maneuver somebody. You use your creativity and your ingenuity in order to work together, and to cooperate with one another. Now that foundation I read to you, it’s in 1st Corinthians chapter 1, verse 10, and you can judge for yourself whether your partnership is built on this foundation. “I beseech you brethren by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ that you all speak the same thing.”
Teammates have to go into a game with the same plan. The husband and the wife have to look forward to running their marriage committed to the same plan. Not the husband having one plan and the wife having another. That happens lots of times. When the husband goes away to work, the wife says to herself, “Well he’s gone. Now we can go back to normal.” You see, when that happens, what you’re talking about, is a man and a women who are competitors, they’re not on the same team. There’s no way for the marriage to work.
It takes cooperation. “Speaking the same thing, no divisions among you, that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.”
I can look back on my athletic days, playing basketball, and it just gives me pleasure to think about it. When I think about these four buddies of mine, you know, we knew each other so well that I could dribble off in this direction and keep my eye over there, and throw the ball over there, and I knew that my partner was going to be there. I knew how fast he could run, I knew what his footwork was like, we knew each other so well we didn’t even have to talk to each other anymore.
The thrill and the wonder, and the pleasure and the joy of cooperation. That one cue alone, if you can get a hold of that, that you and your partner need to be on the same team, and committed to the same plan, will enable you to sit down and iron out whatever issues you’ve had. Obviously, if you conceive of yourpartner as an opponent, you have a sense of defeat when you give up what you’re after.
A partnership is not me verses you; it’s arriving at a mutually agreeable plan. I’m involved in a business. I happen to be the president of a company. We sell ice cream, and we have a plan. When you walk into our ice cream parlors, we know exactly how you will be received, and how we are going to treat you. May I say that as the president of a company, I have a plan? Now, the ones that I’m interested in are in Michigan, and I am here in California. Now how can I be sure that those ice cream parlors in Michigan are running the way I would be running them if I were there?
In the first place, I have to have somebody in my place over there, and that person over there in my place needs to be committed to doing the same thing that I would do if I were there. Now over there I have one man who is responsible for five of these places. We call him a general manager, and there is a manager in each one of those ice cream parlors. Now how can we be assured that all five of those parlors are going to run the same way?
We’ve got to have five managers who are committed to doing it the same way the general manager would do it if the general manager were running it, and they need to be committed to doing it the same way that I would do it. You see what we’re talking about?
Commitment all the way down the line. The same plan. That’s what it takes to run a family. The wife committed to what? The same thing her husband is committed to.
Now it’s inevitable, I don’t care who you are, I don’t care how hard you want to work, I don’t care how dedicated you are, it is inevitable that sooner or later something is going to come up, and you’re going to be confronted by a stalemate. Everything that could be said has been said. There is nothing more to be added, all the facts are in, and you will be on one side, and your partner on the other. And that’s the way it was with my wife and me when we were trying to decide on which stereo set would we buy. One of us wanted one that costs seventy dollars, and the other one of us wanted one that costs seven hundred dollars. Pretty far apart.
How do you settle a stalemate? There is only one way that I can think of, and that’s a Biblical idea, and a tough idea. Somebody has to have the last word. Them’s tough words aren’t they? Now some of us, we may even agree, okay I’ll buy that, somebody has to have the last word. But then there’s a more difficult issue yet, who?
Now here is this basic Biblical principle, and I didn’t write it, and you can do what you want with it. But if you want to be satisfied and content, and happy in your marriage, and I didn’t even say you needed to be content and happy and satisfied, and I have encountered many people who don’t want to.
You know, I’ve had folks come into my consulting room because they were unhappy, and they told me their story. I told them that they didn’t need to be unhappy, and they got mad at me because I told them they didn’t need to be unhappy, and they came to see me because they were unhappy.
How about that? You know, some of us when we realize that there is the possibility of finding happiness, we aren’t so sure we want to. One lady came to see me and she was mad. Beautiful, smelled good, but she was mad. This is what happened.
That morning before her husband left for work he said, “I’m coming home for lunch.” That’s all he said. She decided that that was a good idea, and she was going to make this a real pleasant lunch, and so she got out the best table cloth she had, spread it out, and she got out their nicest dishes, and their nicest silverware, and had it all spread out, and this fellow liked soup, piping hot soup. She was going to have some piping hot soup poured when he walked in the door.
See, she could do that because he was a very punctual fellow. He was one of these kind that when he said he would be home a twelve he meant twelve, zero, zero. He’d rather wait ten seconds on the porch rather than knock at the door at eleven fifty. So she could depend on him. It got close to the time that he was to come home, and so she took a bath, and she combed her hair and put on her makeup, and put on some of her finest perfume, and a nice, crisp dress. What else could you do?
She was ready; you can’t improve on that, can you? Well, the soup was poured, she was ready. There’s only one little thing went wrong; he didn’t come. That pretty lady, she was getting mad. Five minutes, ten minutes, fifteen minutes, soup’s getting cold, she’s getting hot. She's mad, pretty, smelled good, but she was mad. You know, clothing, soap and water, perfume, makeup doesn’t seem to do much for the inside, does it? Looks okay on the outside.
You know I got to thinking a while ago, how much money I’ve got invested in my wife's hair. A lot of money, and that’s good, and I’m glad that ladies like to be nice, but we have to recognize that all you do on the outside doesn’t help you much on the inside. You need a Savior, and you need a spirit that only God can give you.
She was furious. Finally the phone rang, and it was her husband. He said he had gotten delayed, but he was coming right over with a friend. Can’t you see her pouring that soup back in the pot, digging out another plate, stomping around the place? Finally he came and they sat down, and she poured the soup again, and the friend said, “No thanks, I don’t care for soup.” and her husband took one mouthful of this hot soup and he said, “Ooh, what did you make it so hot for?”
He said to his friend, “Come on, let’s go,” and they got up and left, and they left this furious, sputtering woman behind. She stormed around that house, she was mad, all alone, nobody there. Now why would anybody want to do that to themselves when there isn’t anybody there? I’ll bet you’ve all taken sides already, haven’t you? Now all I said to the lady when she told me this story was that she didn’t need to be unhappy, and she said, “What?!?! I suppose you expect me to be happy! What an obnoxious thought.”
She was all preoccupied with him. Now I’ll admit, who would want to defend him? Certainly he was wrong, wasn’t he? Anybody would realize that he should let her know, that’s the least he could have done. But my point was that your serenity, and your peace, and your joy, and your love is not determined by your husband’s choices. Your inner condition is revealed by your husband’s choices not created. That just burned her up. I’m not so much concerned about your first reaction to that statement.
You go home and think it over, and you’ll realize what a blessed thing I’m telling you. That you have access to the Spirit of God, and you can let him fill your heart with love so that you can love your husband. And he can't stop you no matter what he does. Isn't that a good idea? You can love your wife no matter how nasty she is. She can’t stop you from loving her because you have access to the love of God. That Spirit has nothing to do with marriage. Now what are you presenting to marriage?
A selfish spirit, an antagonistic, competitive spirit, or are you presenting a loving spirit, and your attitude is I mean to cooperate, and I mean not to have any stalemates in our marriage? How do we settle the stalemates?
After everything that could be said had been said, one of us wanted the seventy dollar stereo, and the other one of us wanted the seven hundred dollar stereo. How do you settle that?
The person who has the last word settles it. Who has the last word? Me. Now look, when I differ with my wife, and after everything has been done that could be done, and she and I differ, I want to tell you that I had better consider that a very serious matter, and that’s not the time for me to say isn’t it wonderful that I’m a man and I have the last word, and I can do anything I please, and I could care less what my wife thinks. My wife has just as much of an investment in that family as me. She bore three children of that family.
She contributed to the raising of those children far more than me. She is somebody to be reckoned with, and before I go against the advice of my wife, I had better have a mighty good reason. That should be considered a very grave moment before a man overrules his wife. This was one time we had come to a stalemate and it was my decision to make, and I had to make it. You have a captain of the team for the same reason. That’s the function of the president of a company.
I was president of a kitchen cabinet shop one time, and we had a meeting with the two key men who ran that business. One was in charge of production, and one was in charge of sales and we decided to buy a machine, and I went off on a trip, and left the job of buying the machine to those two men, and I came back, and no machine. Why? Well they got hung up. On what? We decided to buy a machine, that’s right. What did they get hung up on? Whether we should buy a new one, or a used one.
Now mind you, I’m talking about two dedicated people, they’re interest in that business was just as intense as mine. Two, sincere, qualified men, but they had come to a stalemate. Now the function of the president is to break that stalemate. Now that’s not an easy thing. I had to know the reasons why this man took the position he did. I had to know the reasons why this man took the position he did. That's no simple matter to break a stalemate, but you see, the function of the president is to break the stalemate.
You don’t need to have any issues at your house that go on and on and on and on and on and on. No reason why you should, if you come to grips with the spirit of selfishness.That’s why you need a Savior, and you come to God all by yourself. This has nothing to do with your partner, and you admit to Him, “My way is more important to me than this marriage, and I’m sorry. Will you forgive me, Lord? Would You take that spirit away from me?”
There isn’t anybody in this room that can’t do that. You’ve got to eliminate that spirit of selfishness, and you need to approach this relationship in a spirit of cooperation. That's one thing. And the objective: to arrive at some guidelines, some standards, some rules, some policies that you’re both committed to, it shouldn’t make any difference who’s home.
Now, realizing that it is inevitable no matter how dedicated you are that you’re going to come to a stalemate, the next thing that you have to realize, if you’re going to build an effective partnership, is that somebody has to have the last word. Now in Ephesians, it talks about this nice lady, this Spirit-filled lady, and this Spirit-filled man. These two people, with a song on their lips, and a melody in their hearts, and a spirit of thanksgiving who mean to cooperate.
Now when we come down that far it says in the 22nd verse, “Wives submit yourselves unto your own husbands.” That’s not bad news. Cooperation isn’t bad news. There isn’t anything as pleasant as cooperation. “… For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church and He is the Savior of the body.”
Now sir, this doesn’t mean you do anything you please. Your relationship to your wife is the same as Jesus’ relationship was to the church, and he didn’t come to suit Himself. He came to lay His life down for that church. He lived for that church. Now a man’s first responsibility is to his wife. If his responsibility to his wife is like Christ’s responsibility was to the church, then a man’s first responsibility is the well-being of his wife. Now that doesn’t mean to pamper her, and that doesn’t mean to spoil her. That means to help her become the finest, loveliest, best woman she could possibly be. Sometimes that means you gotta say no. Sometimes that means you say yes.
You do, what in your judgment sir, is in the best interest of your wife. That’s the kind of relationship that’s involved in making a partnership go. Doesn’t that sound great? This real nice loving lady that’s going to love her husband, and he can’t stop her. And this man who is going to love his wife and she can’t stop him, and they mean to cooperate, and they’re committed to the idea that whenever there is a stalemate, they’re gonna break it, because he has the last word. Doesn’t that sound great? Try it.