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Saturday, November 3, 2012

Those of you familiar with Stephen Covey’s famous book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, will recognize the graphic shown at right (click for a full size view).

The diagram describes Covey’s seven habits and their influence in moving people from dependence to independence to interdependence. 

These three phases, or paradigms, also represent the process of becoming one-flesh in marriage.

The You Paradigm - Dependence

In my opinion, the You Paradigm represents the lowest level of marital maturity. It’s characterized by me expecting you (my spouse) to make me happy. I expect you to take care of me and meet my needs. If you don’t, I’m not going to meet yours. I give only to get.

The You Paradigm can also include me making my life all about you. Especially during dating and early marriage, it’s easy for me to fall into being completely absorbed by you, making my life totally revolve around you. This can quickly devolve into co-dependence, in which I look to you for validation and acceptance. I let you define me.

The Me Paradigm – Independence

If I spend very long in the You Paradigm, I will eventually become disillusioned with the fact that you (my spouse) aren’t meeting my needs like I think you should.  I’m giving, but I’m not getting in "fair" proportion. In frustration I move from dependence to independence.

I take responsibility upon myself for my own happiness, but without regard to yours. I become self-reliant to the point of isolation. I make my own choices and decisions for what benefit me the most. The relationship becomes irrelevant.

Independence can lead to a lonely existence.

The We Paradigm – Interdependence

What the Bible calls being one flesh is at least in part defined by interdependence.

In marriage, there is a “great mystery,” literally translated a “mega-mystery,” in which a man and wife are joined together as one in spirit, soul and body. It is indeed mysterious how two can be one yet still maintain their individuality. It is in interdependence, the highest form of marital maturity, that this gets worked out.

In the interdependent paradigm, you and I both bring ourselves fully to the relationship; no pretense, no posturing, and no power struggles. We are one in all things, yet we are free to be ourselves. Together we add strength to strength and allow strength to cover weakness. It’s beautiful.

Seeing our marriage through a one-flesh, interdependent perspective means you and I deeply value one another and place a priority on our marriage. We choose to purposefully invest in each other, not because of what we can gets from it, but because we see intimacy as the true measure of a great marriage. We regard relationship and more important than rights.

What’s Your Paradigm?

Set it in your heart and mind to live in the We Paradigm; to live interdependently as one flesh. That’s what the Bible says we have a right to as husband and wife. We just need to grab hold of it and live it.

Of course we may tend to occasionally move back to Me-land or You-land, but We-land is what God intends for you and me and for our marriages. Live there.

Where are you on the You-Me-We continuum?



J said...

So great, I emailed this to my hubby! (I read a lot of marriage blogs, and I only select a few posts to "make" him read.) :)

Scott said...

Thanks J - I hope your hubby enjoys the reading!

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