Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Quantity vs. Quality

In the book “Art and Fear” there is a passage about a ceramics class. The professor split the class into two; one half was to be graded on quantity. At the end of the class their finished works would be weighed. If they had 50 pounds, they got an A, 40 pounds got a B, and so on. The other group was to be graded on quality. They had to produce only one pot, but to get an A it had to be perfect...

Well, come grading time and a curious fact emerged: the works of highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity!
It seems that while the “quantity” group was busily churning out piles of work - and learning from their mistakes - the “quality” group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay.

Thomas Edison, when questioned about all his failures while trying to create a working incandescent light bulb said this:

I have not failed; I've just found 10,000 ways that didn't work.

How does this apply to marriage? What activities do you do too carefully, afraid to fail, trying too hard to be perfect? If you’ve been chastised for doing something “wrong” before, you might be unwilling to do it again. Remember that failure is just a chance to learn, and thus to grow. Take criticisms as constructive, and try to get into your spouse’s head. What do they want? What do they expect, or hope for? If it’s not obvious, ASK! Start a dialogue. If it strays away from the subject at hand... that’s fine. Your goal should always be to learn more, that you might love better.

Here’s a case study. Tony and Alisa DiLorenzo do a podcast about marriage, which can be found here:

They talk from a Christian point of view, so it’s refreshing that they are so open and honest about physical intimacy among other topics. Their first episode was about something that completely changed their marriage, maybe even saved it. They were leading a couples’ small group study, and decided to challenge themselves to make love - for sixty straight days. Now, some of you just laughed, some snorted, some cringed... and some raised an eyebrow, or both. They admit to “only” doing it for 40 of the 60 days, but they tell about how their communication skills - in AND out of the bedroom - drastically improved, and (after a month of recovery) their sex life did too.

If you’re committed to the challenge, “same old” is going to get boring pretty quickly. You’ll have to expand your horizons, talk about and try new things to keep going. Some of these efforts will fail, and as a result you will learn. And grow. Too often, we shy away from suggesting anything new or different out of fear; fear that failure will lead to disappointment and future rejection. Too often we settle instead of strive to avoid the pain that failure can cause. We need to remain firm in our commitment to our spouse, seeking to serve even when one or both are struggling. Consider Job 34:4. As they are trying to figure out Job’s tough situation, Elihu says:

Let us discern for ourselves what is right; let us learn together what is good

Ourselves; plural. Together. Take the same attitude with your spouse. In all types of intimacy, physical and otherwise, never stop exploring each other and experimenting. When things don’t work, talk. Apologize if necessary, laugh with each other when possible, and keep moving forward! Inevitably, things will come up; whether it be emotional scars from the past, or views about things that you may have never shared. All of these can serve to bring the two of you closer if they are discussed vulnerably and transparently, with love not judgement; with grace. As Paul wrote in Phillipians 1:30

We are in this struggle together. You have seen my struggle in the past, and you know that I am still in the midst of it.

Even now that you are one flesh, each of you still have your own issues. Work through them as a team. It will take time; as I’ve said before, a human soul is complex. We marry for life because it takes that long to get to know one another fully. The rewards though are amazing. Thomas Edison again:

Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.

Don’t ever give up.

1 comment:

  1. Brian,
    Enjoyed the post! We are glad to hear that you have gotten so much out of the podcast.