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 | By Steve and Bridget Patton

He says: With the kids gone, it’s time to leave this big house and move into something smaller


She says: I would like to stay put, what’s the point of moving when we’re comfortable here?


The living space needs and preferences of a couple will naturally evolve over the course of their marriage and family life. Less space might be needed in one phase, more in the next and then less again later. Sometimes a move might be called for, other times adequate changes can be made to the existing home. And sometimes, one spouse will see their needs one way and the other will see it completely differently. What then?

As with any area of disagreement in a marriage, what’s most important is honesty with yourself, listening with kind attention to one another and a mutual willingness to suffer well for the sake of your marriage. Let’s look at each.

Self-honesty can be a challenge because sometimes we have agendas that are hidden even from ourselves. For instance, the one who wants to move may say, and even at a surface level believe, that it’s because of a Gospel-inspired desire to live more simply. But what’s really going on underneath is something else – perhaps maybe the sheer weariness of keeping up with a larger property. Likewise with the one who wants to stay. When you say it’s “comfortable,” are you honestly speaking for both of you?

Listening can also be a challenge, especially if you have hidden fears that if you are too tender and attentive, your spouse may use this against you to gain the upper hand and get his or her way. If either of you harbors that fear, be honest about it, to yourself and to your spouse, and try not to give in to it. This is the kind of humility that builds trust.

If you can begin together from a foundation of mutual openness, humility, trust and willingness to compromise, then you are well on your way to a shared solution. But each of you must be prepared to accept the consequences of a compromise. As Paul writes in Ephesians: “Defer to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (5:21) If your marriage has had a pattern in which one of you has almost always ended up prevailing in these types of discussions, that’s not a good sign. Make sure this is a decision in which you both willingly and lovingly bend toward the other for the sake of your marriage.

Steve and Bridget Patton hold master’s degrees in theology and counseling and serve as family life ministers in the Diocese of Sacramento.

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