“I Want a Dishwasher, He Wants a Stereo”


From By Love Refined, Alice Von Hildebrand

Dear Julie,
To tell the truth, I’d been expecting this for and I’m surprised it wasn’t a problem before now.

Have you heard about the greedy king who died of starvation because he owned huge amounts of gold, but had no food at all?

There seems to be some mystique about money, which goes much deeper than its role as a means for acquiring other things.

Is it because money means security (or gives the illusion of security)? Is it because it opens the door to all sorts of enjoyments? Is it because it gives power?

Whatever the cause of the compelling attraction of money, your argument about it with Michael is typical. You want to use your income tax refund to make work at home easier by purchasing a dishwasher and a new toaster. Michael favors spending it on a stereo, elegant restaurants, and expensive wines.

“After all,” he says, ”We have a right to enjoy the fruits of our hard work.”

That you and Michael should have different wishes is absolutely normal. I’m convinced that men are usually more pleasure-seeking than women (though when women are addicted to pleasure, they often beat men at game).

And I think that because of their sense for concrete, women are likely to be more concerned about things that last.

As Chesterton jokingly observed, “A duchess may ruin a duke for a diamond necklace; but there is the necklace. A coster may ruin his wife for a pot of beer; and where is the beer?”

Regardless of which categories you and Michael fall into the question for you both is, “Who is going to win ?” In this particular case, you could try to appeal to Michael’s chivalry and explain to him that because of your busy schedules, a dishwasher (unpoetic as it is) should be given priority, even though it doesn’t deserve to be compared to a stereo which can give keen artistic enjoyment. This approach accomplishes two things: It acknowledges the legitimacy of Michael’s wish (which will please him) and hopefully it will convince him to purchase the dishwasher (which would be very helpful to you).

In this case, adequate reasons can be give to resove the dispute in favor of the dishwasher.
But other cases arise in which the reasons on both sides are equally strong. These disagreements are harder to resolve, since each of you will think that his case should carry the day.

To ensure that such disputes don’t get out of hand, you and Michael might try now to establish ground rules for resolving future disputes.

One of the key rules, I’ve found, is that discussions shouldn’t take place at the wrong moment – when one of you is tired, pressured, or rushed.

It’s important to choose a favorable time, when you both are in a loving, recollected mood. Then peacefully discuss the pros and cons of your differing views, seriously trying to understand each other.

Don’t begin like two duelers whose only aim is to win. I think you’ll be surprised at how quickly disagreements will be resolved if you wait to discuss them in this way in favorable circumstances.

In many cases you may both be able to compromise or one of you may give in with the understanding that the next time, the other will give in. Especially when the arguments on each side are equally weighty and there is no easy way to resolve the issue based on the evidence alone, keep in mind that the person who gives in out of love is always the greater one.

This sounds paradoxical, for the winner is usually considered the stronger.

But there are two ways of losing. One is out of weakness: the other person has a more powerful will and forces you to yield. The other type of “losing” is in fact a tremendous victory.

Think of the mother who gives her child the better portion of food because she loves him! Imagine the husband or wife who gives in, not out of weakness, but out of love.

This spouse is by far the stronger one, for he’s achieved the most difficult of all victories: conquering his own self-will.

He who truly loves, desires to do good to his beloved. He who wants to “pull the whole blanket to his side” and has very little concern about the other person, is a sorry lover.

This will sometimes mean denying yourself for the sake of a greater good.

As Cardinal Newman once wrote, “No two persons perhaps are to be found, however intimate, however congenial in tastes and judgments, however eager to have one heart and one soul, but must deny themselves…much which they like or dislike, if they’re to live together happily.”

Money and most of the other things you may fight about are very insignificant things compared to love. Isn’t it a form of madness to endanger the precious gift of marriage over such secondary disagreements?

I’m sure that by now you and your dear Michael have reached a loving solution and have discovered that yielding can be a mark of great strength and that more importantly, yielding is often an act of love.

With all my prayers for you and Michael as the holy feast of Easter approaches, I am,

Affectionately yours,

There will be loveliness, too, in the home where true love causes order and comfort to reign. For the poorest room can be made lovely by a woman’s cunning hand. She can have flowers at her window, and flowers on her mantel and her table. And the curtains of windows and beds may be beautified by some simple ornament devised by a woman’s taste and executed in spare moments by the hand of even the busiest. -Fr. Bernard O’reilly,The Mirror of True Womanhood http://amzn.to/2t7GyVt (afflink)

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