Marriage is like Government—

Here it is August and I already hate all the political ads I see. The truth be told, I really don’t like ads in general, but the political ones, in particular, seem to be more manipulative. Those advertisements try to pick one issue out of the zillions of things that a President will have to do and make us either like or dislike the candidate by making emotional statements. But emotional statements don’t usually tell us anything about an issue or about the reasons why the speaker believes something is good or bad for the country, emotional statements just tell us we should have the emotion the ad suggests and either be pro or con the candidate or issue being discussed.

Life is not as simple as a sound bite. In politics, as in marriage, reasonable minds can differ. If you start from the premise that only you have the reasonable mind, then there is absolutely nothing to say. People used to debate and discuss and compromise. People would listen with respect to the other side and provide point and counterpoint and seek common ground. But now, winning the argument or the election or the game is more important than doing the right thing. What is the right thing? Well, I don’t know. But I do know that one person or party or spouse is not always right.

While people like to compare running a country to running a business and compare a marriage to a partnership, neither comparison is valid. In business, the people involved expect and intend to run the business to make a profit for themselves. Shareholders want a good return on their investment. Partners want their appropriate share of the profit. But the purpose of a government is not to make a profit. It is to protect and improve the lives of its citizens. And the purpose of marriage isn’t for each partner to make a profit, it is to form a union for the mutual good of the family.

Both government and marriage will at some time do something that will not benefit all its members, but will advance the mutual goals by supporting the needs of one of the members of the community. So government may build roads or make treaties or create laws so that the society as a whole will be safe and secure and have its needs met. And in a marriage, one person may stay home with children while the other works and contributes financially or the parties may decide to use their finances to put one party through school in hopes that it will improve the standing of the entire family. In other words, the main idea is not to make a profit, but mutually support one another in order to reach important goals. At times it may be that one area requires more attention than another, but that is when the debate and discussion and compromise come in.

Sometimes listening to the other person’s position will help everyone be able to move together to reach their common goals. In that way, government and marriage both hold that the group (family or community) working together towards a mutual goal is more important than each member’s separate desires.

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