Do you remember Chip ‘n’ Dale? No, not the dancers. The two Disney chipmunks with a nose for trouble. They spent most of their time trying to outwit other Disney characters. This dynamic duo were always collecting something. Sometimes they tried to fill their tree with acorns. Other times they were after apples. In one episode they pestered Donald for pancakes. When they weren’t collecting they were defending their home from someone who wanted to chop it down. Whatever they did, they did together.
I don’t know how often this happened, but I remember it happening a lot. Chip ‘n’ Dale always had trouble going through doors. It wasn’t because they couldn’t open them or because one was trying to push past the other, but because they would hold the door open for one another. The exchange would go something like this:
“No, you first.”
“I insist, you first.”
“No, really, go ahead.”
“No, no, no, no, no, you first.”
They would eventually laugh and make their way through the door together. I think they unwittingly illustrated the secret of a happy marriage. Prefer one another.
Happily married couples like each other. Love may be the foundation of their relationship, but like is the foreman that builds the house. That’s not a terribly romantic statement. It’s not the fiery catalyst of passion or the sappy sentiment of a Hallmark card. It’s the practical nuts and bolts that make a house a home and help hold a marriage together.
Happy couples like one another. Happy couples prefer one another.
Every relationship is built on core values, family values and preferences.
- Core Values – represent those non-negotiable ideas that make us who we are. For some, this is expressed through religious belief. For other’s it’s political persuasion. Your core values define who you are, the way you think and how you act. The key word for recognizing core values is ‘non-negotiable’. If it’s a value you can give up or give away, it’s probably not a core value. It’s rare for people with vastly different core values to get together.
- Family Values – represent those ideas that define how we do things in this house. My kids go to bed around 8:30pm. Yours may go to bed earlier or later. It’s not a hard and fast rule. It’s one that can change, but generally everyone in the family knows and agrees that this is the way things are done in this house. Some couples get together because they have similar family values. The comfortable feel of the familiar draws them together. Other people get together because they hate the family values they grew up with so they find someone who is completely opposite. Together they define a new way of doing things.
- Preferences – represent the way I would like it. You’re a little country. I’m a little rock and roll. I like the room cold. You like it hot. I prefer movies with explosions. You like the ones that make you cry. Preferences aren’t house rules. Ignoring a preference won’t violate the core of we are. Preferences define what we like.
In a happy marriage couples prefer one another. They pay attention to the preferences of their spouse and give in to those preferences. They hold doors open.
“No, you first.”
It’s not one sided. The husband sets aside his preferences for the benefit of his wife. The wife sets aside her preferences for the benefit of her husband. They don’t do this out of obligation or duty. They do it because they like one another. They do it because they like how they feel when they successfully make their spouse feel special.
Do you want to know the secret of a happy marriage? It comes down to a question. Who do you like the most, you or your spouse? Learn to like your spouse. Discover each others preferences then work to see who can out prefer the other. Every door you face you’ll walk through together.
Philippians 2:3-4, “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”