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The Goldilocks Principle of Marriage

marriage goldilocks

Not too cold. Not too hot. But just right.

In the children’s fairy tale The Three Bears, a little girl named Goldilocks enters an empty house owned by three bears—Papa Bear, Mama Bear and Baby Bear. Each animal has a preference for the porridge. Goldilocks finds one too cold, one too hot, but one just right. The Goldilocks principle often references finding the middle ground of two extremes.

Within marriage, we need to find just the right perspective of how to think of ourselves. Pride can express itself in one of two extremes—thinking too highly of ourselves or thinking too little of ourselves. Either way, our perspective is wrong. For a healthy marriage, we need to understand ourselves and our spouses in the proper way. When we think either too little or too much of ourselves, we will throw our marriage out of balance. (See: Pride—the Only Enemy of Marriage)

We must think of ourselves just right.

Too much

When we overestimate our value in marriage, we make marriage solely about us. Instead of understanding God’s role in marriage, we assume marriage is simply about our feelings, satisfaction, happiness.

From this perspective, our spouse’s role is to please us. We expect them to make us happy, serve us and make us the center of attention. Our happiness defines their value. The importance of our vows is dependent on our feelings. (See: 3 Essentials of a Healthy Marriage)

Thinking too highly of ourselves can express itself by:

—Believing if our spouse truly loved us they would know what we want or think

—Refusing to listen to our spouse’s thoughts or concerns

—Showing contempt toward our spouse

—Turning every disagreement into a personal attack

—Yelling and other forms of disrespect

—Failing to take responsibility for a major aspect of home life (finances, housework, etc.)

—Assuming principles of fidelity or character don’t apply to us

—Being physically or emotionally abusive

—Ignoring our vows and refusing to submit what we desire to what’s best for the couple

When we think too highly of ourselves, a healthy marriage is not possible because our spouse can never be seen as our equal. We will always think we deserve better and that they are lucky to be married to us.

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Kevin A. Thompson is Lead Pastor of Community Bible Church, a multi-site church in Fort Smith, AR. He currently writes a daily blog focusing on leadership, marriage, and parenting (specifically parenting a child with special needs). Kevin is the author of Friends, Partners & Lovers and the forthcoming sequel Happily: 8 Commitments of Couples who Laugh, Love, and Last. Along with his wife, Kevin is co-owner of JThompsonMMC, a full service media and marketing company based in Fort Smith. He is a graduate of Beeson Divinity School of Samford University and Oklahoma Baptist University.