Monday, June 27, 2011

Non-Negotiables

Safephoto © 2006 Rob Pongsajapan | more info (via: Wylio)
I have a confession.

I don't really "get" Donald Miller.

As a result, I missed his post about the list that his fiancee Paige wrote about what she wanted in a spouse. And I also missed the "open letter" that Karen Swallow Prior wrote in response to the list. But I caught them both yesterday in Rachel Held Evans's list of Sunday Superlatives.

In Karen's letter, she talked about non-negotiables. And, of course, as a Christian she included (as Paige did in her list) shared faith as a non-negotiable.

Before I go any further, let me state again that I am in favor of shared faith, particularly when seeking a spouse. It's not a small thing and I absolutely put it in my list of non-negotiables back in the day. Not sharing a belief system can be difficult. And I don't think for a minute that a list of qualities that you want is bad and I don't want to say that settling is good or acceptable. And while I don't like open letters, I didn't really think that anything that Karen wrote was all that problematic.

That out of the way, I want to talk about the idea of something being non-negotiable. When I look at something being non-negotiable, it's something that has no give. Which in the search process makes some sense, but how does that apply after the fact?

I never, when I married my husband, saw a loss of faith in our future. It was simply not on our radar. And yet, almost 2 years ago, something that would I would have considered to be firm and fixed was completely turned upside down.

So what happens now?

We look at the things that mattered and we see what still matters and what no longer applies. We bend. We flex. We negotiate.

I think when we start talking about non-negotiables with people, we forget that we're dealing with people. And people are just not as predictable as we might think. We have experiences that shape us and that doesn't change just because we're married. I don't want my husband to stop growing as a person. I don't want to stop growing as a person. Lists can be great guides, but as soon as we attach the non-negotiable label onto it, we run the risk of A) excluding someone who may meet needs that we don't even know that we have and B) stopping the person that we love from being their most real self.

I love that my husband still has so many qualities that I want in a spouse and so many qualities that I didn't know that I wanted in a spouse. If that means being willing to negotiate a little bit, then so be it.

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Do you have any relationships that defy your list of non-negotiables? Have you ever had a non-negotiable in a relationship change and did it have any effect on the relationship?

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