Marriage: When Values Collide

My wife and I were checking into a hotel in Disney World in Florida one time. We were in the lobby and I heard a young voice call out “Mommy, Daddy, look at me!”

I knew I wasn’t the daddy but I turned anyway and saw a little boy about seven or eight standing on the back of a couch calling to his parents who were across the lobby in the check-in line. This was the lobby of a sport themed hotel and it was built for kids to abuse. The couch was made of big blocks and was easy for kids to climb.

The parents turned and this is what happened. At about the same time, the man said “Hey Joey, you’re really up high!” and the woman said “Joey, get down immediately! You’ll hurt yourself!”

I’m not sure what really happened next but it let’s imagine a conversation.


Man: “Oh honey, relax!” 

Woman: “Relax? How can I relax when he may fall?”

Man: “He won’t fall.”

Woman: “You don’t know that! “She hurries across the lobby and helps Joey down.

Man: “You always baby him.”

Woman: “If it was up to you, he’d break every bone is his body.”


We could follow the conversation further but it is clear at this point that Mom and Dad are on the verge of a fight and they don’t even know why.

They both love Joey. They both want what’s How to construct great arguments best for him. But they differ greatly on what “best” is. Dad thinks that Joey needs to explore, to test his abilities and he knows that as a child he climbed things higher than that, he even fell sometimes and he didn’t get hurt. Mom thinks that Joey is too young to be up that high, that if he falls he’ll break something or at least cry and embarrass them all and when she was a child she was afraid of heights – and still is.

What happened? Their values collided

This kind of difference is a collision of values. Each believes strongly that they are right. Because their values differ, each sees the same event differently. We might say they are seeing the event through different filters. He sees a big boy on a low platform. She sees a little boy on a very high platform.


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