Monday, April 29, 2013

Choose Your Battles Wisely

Excerpt from chapter 7 of Family Ever After

Choose your battles wisely. My mother-in-law maintains, “If it is not a big deal, don’t make it a big deal; if it is [a big deal], . . . make it [a big deal].” Some things are just not worth emotion and the time, but some things are, and we need to have the courage to address the bigger issues.

When my now brother-in-law was considering engagement to my sister, he was very concerned about how finances would affect their possible marriage. He would become worried or stressed every time she said something about going shopping, eating out, or spending any money at all. His concerns on this matter were valid, as he had come from a family which had fallen on very difficult financial times. Though his parents managed their money in many smart ways, their fiscal management did not prepare them for future financial strains. When unexpected medical expenses were added to existing debts, the stress caused tension in their marriage. My brother-in-law was afraid of having similar financial issues in his marriage and he and my sister began to have conflict over the very topic he feared. He says, “I remember one night when we sat in the car on a randomly selected road and discussed my fears. My girlfriend was really sensitive and I came to feel that she really understood why I was so scared and why spending habits were such a big deal to me. I realized that she didn’t want to go into debt either and that she knew spending wisely was important. I came to understand that she had her own fears of missing out on opportunities because of being too stingy. We discussed specifics and found solutions we were both happy with.” Neither of their spending habits was necessarily bad, but they were different and they needed to find common ground that he felt safe with and she felt comfortable with. He picked this battle because he wanted to have better than decent spending habits; he wanted to be ready for a rainy day. It was a battle wisely chosen, as it would have very likely become a raging conflict in their marriage. It improved their relationship by helping them to come together on an important issue and giving him the confidence to pop the question.

Next time you are choosing a battle, ask yourself if the battle will eventually help your relationships or hurt them. Spending habits can make or break a marriage, but does it really matter if your spouse wears mismatched socks? There is absolutely no way to avoid conflict, but everything isn’t and doesn’t need to be a conflict. Sometimes, it’s okay to let things go.
A small blurb I wrote was featured in a msn article last week on 8 Secrets of Happy Moms by Natasha Burton: You can check it out at
It is featured on the second and third page. Just click on the blue arrows to move pages.

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