Friday, January 28, 2011

Marriage? A “Prisoners Dilemma” or “Romantic Get Away”

Article first published as Marriage? A Prisoners Dilemma or Romantic Get Away on Technorati.    By Randy Koch

There is a concept in the criminal investigation world known as “The Prisoner's Dilemma”.  This “Dilemma”, highlights the internal struggle two interrogated, and guilty, suspects find themselves in when facing the possibility of conviction.  You may be wondering, “How in the world does this have anything to do with my marriage”?

The answer to this question lies in an important principal we can all learn about human nature.   If your marriage resembles a priceless heirloom misplaced in a dark closet, and you need some practical ideas on how to restore it, you will appreciate the following simple advice. 

Maybe your marriage is good, even a little above the curve, however somewhere in the back of your mind you realize it could use a little restoration, then follow along as we share a few romance kindling ideas.  Before we dig in though, let's take a closer look at the Prisoner's Dilemma and see what hidden treasures lie just beneath its surface. 

“Two suspects are arrested by the police.  The police have insufficient evidence for a conviction,  and having separated the prisoners, visit each of them to offer the same deal.  If one testifies for the prosecution against the other (defects) and the other remains silent (cooperates), the defector goes free and the silent accomplice receives the full 10-year sentence.”

“If both remain silent, both prisoners are sentenced to only six months in jail for minor charges.   If each betrays the other, each receives a five-year sentence.  Each prisoner must choose to betray the other or to remain silent.  Each one is assured that the other would not know about the betrayal before the end of the investigation.  How should the prisoners act?”

Over the years, history has shown that more often then not each person will act according to his or her own self-interest rather than the greater interest of both.  Remarkable considering their irrational decision ultimately increases both individual sentences.  Given the heated scenario, the behavior of the two suspects may not seem too surprising, but is it possible the Prisoner's Dilemma has somehow crept into your marriage?

To find out, let’s look for signs of this robber in our marriage, and, for good measure, break out the trusty ounce of prevention to ensure our relationships are full of life, trust, and first-love romance.  By the way, having these qualities alive and well in our marriages is the best security system we can have against unwanted intruders.   Are you ready?  Lets begin preparing the scene for our Romantic Get Away?

Marriage robber #1 Self-Interest

When our lives are filled with self-interest we rarely recognize our spouses sacrifice or thoughtfulness as we’re too busy focusing on our own wants and desires to notice.  There is an old phrase I first heard early in our marriage that has guided me over the years.  Periodically I examine my life to see how it measures up to this simple little phrase:  Do I love people and use things, or, do I mainly love things and use people.

It is very hard to do both at the same time!

The ounce of prevention

Practice words of encouragement and praise.  This may mean praise for a wonderfully prepared dinner or for a husband that takes time to fix all those things that seem to break down.  The words you speak have the power of life or death so use them wisely.  You can build your spouse up or tear them down by using words chosen carefully or carelessly.

Make it a point to release a fountain of blessing on your spouse each day with carefully chosen words of life.  Does your wife or husband need your emotional support to fulfill a dream?  Let them pursue it while you find ways to be an encouragement along the journey.   When you do this your Romantic Get Away Vehicle is just around the corner.

Marriage robber # 2 Distraction

In every marriage there comes a time when our most cherished commitments are tested.  Think back to that wonderful day when you and your spouse exchanged vows.  Are you reminded of your promise to cherish, love, honor, and live a life of devotion for one another?  Are these promises still worth keeping?

Since every marriage will face an investigator that will challenge its promises, we must determine in advance whether or not we will stick to them?   There’s a country song I've come to love whose chorus goes “That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!”   What about you?  Have your wedding vows suffered from chronic distraction?  Here are a few ideas to help you beat marriage robber # two.

The ounce of prevention

Every relationship requires maintenance.  Don’t let distraction rob you from developing strong lines of communication.  The number one distraction is busyness, so plan ahead to deal with this robber head on.  Defeat distraction by planning date nights centered around activities you both enjoy such as walks, cozy restaurants, or site seeing.  The important point is to do them consistently.

My wife and I suggest you and your spouse pick a time each week to be alone together.  Date nights were not just for dating.  By keeping date nights active and encouraging your partner daily you can defeat the "Prisoners Dilemma" and watch the "Romantic Get Away" speed around the corner!

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