Mar 7

Eighty/Twenty

2006 at 11:49 am   |   by Carolyn Mahaney Filed under Marriage | Communication | Conflict Resolution

As a way of introducing me to the attendees of the College Church women’s retreat last weekend, one of the event coordinators conducted an interview with me on the first evening. A particular question she asked was: If given the opportunity, who is one famous person with whom you’d like to have dinner?

My answer: Actually, I’ve already been blessed to have that experience. For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to meet Elisabeth Elliot. A few years ago, she was the guest speaker for my church’s women’s retreat and my husband and I were privileged to have dinner with Elisabeth and her husband.

After my mom, Elisabeth Elliot is the woman who has most affected my life. I still remember as a child my mom reading Through Gates of Splendor to our family. This book left an indelible mark on my young mind. Since that time, I have read most of the other books that Elisabeth has authored, and listened to oodles of taped messages by her, as well as subscribed to her newsletter. As you probably can tell, I deeply admire this godly woman and the uncompromised message of biblical womanhood she has imparted through her writing and speaking.

All this to say, there’s a quote in one of her books—actually, she’s quoting her husband—that would serve us well in keeping with this whole topic of encouragement that we’ve been considering. Lars Gren (Elisabeth’s husband), presented this helpful challenge:

“A wife, if she is very generous, may allow that her husband lives up to perhaps eighty percent of her expectations. There is always the other twenty percent that she would like to change, and she may chip away at it for the whole of their married life without reducing it by very much. She may, on the other hand, simply decide to enjoy the eighty percent, and both of them will be happy.”

Sometimes as wives, we are more inclined to concentrate on what our husbands are doing wrong rather than what they are doing right. We are more prone to criticize the twenty percent rather than encourage the eighty percent. That’s why this little quote has been such a great reminder to me as I endeavor to encourage my husband.

So, let’s apply this eighty/twenty rule in our marriage. Let’s enjoy all the wonderful qualities about our husband. For I daresay that Lars is right: when we enjoy and encourage our husbands, both of us will be happy!

(A little addendum to my College Church Women’s Retreat experience…The girl who wired me with the mic for each message came up to me after my interview and first message on Friday evening and said, “I wanted to introduce myself. My name is Elisabeth. I am Elisabeth Elliot’s granddaughter and namesake.” What a treat to meet this young woman!)