Are you a hedgehog or a fox? Bet you never thought about it. But it's an important question to answer if you want to save and restore your marriage. Keep reading, I'll explain why and I'll help you figure out which you are.
In his essay “The Hedgehog and the Fox,” based on an ancient Greek parable, Isaiah Berlin describes how different people approach problems. Some people are like foxes; they know many things. Other people are like hedgehogs; they know one big thing.
A fox is a clever animal able to devise many tactics for attacking the hedgehog. Everyday the fox looks like he has another brilliant strategy to finally win his prey.
The hedgehog, on the other hand, is a slow boring creature whose defense is the same no matter how the fox attacks. Everyday the fox thinks, “Aha, now I've got you.” But everyday, no matter what approach the fox takes, no matter where he strikes from, no matter what time of day it is, as soon as the hedgehog senses danger he thinks, “Here we go again,” and he rolls up into a little ball, extends his sharp spikes, and spoils the fox's best laid plans.
Berlin explained that some people (foxes) see the world in all its complexity. Their approach constantly changes depending on the circumstances, but they never develop a unified vision.
Other people (hedgehogs), on the other hand, simplify the complexity of the world into one principle—one basic idea that determines their every move.
Now don't misunderstand. Hedgehogs are not simpleminded. On the contrary, their understanding of the world is so profound that they're able to identify the most fundamental elements. You know, simple but not simplistic. Can you get any more basic than E = mc squared? Can you get any more brilliant?
Insightful right? But what in the world does this have to do with your marriage? Everything!
Everyone has problems, issues, and challenges in their marriage. Yours may even be severe. And you will no doubt face a variety of problems over the years.
You might think that for each new problem, you need a new solution. But you don't! Think like a hedgehog not a fox. Remember, for a hedgehog THE SOLUTION IS ALWAYS THE SAME.
Some radio and television shows are hosted by relationship experts who have guests or allow people to call-in to share their problems. It's fascinating the myriad of problems that couples face. What's equally fascinating is the host's ability to find unique solutions for all the different problems.
It makes for an interesting show, but it's just not that complicated. The ultimate answer to every problem is the same—love. LOVE IS THE FOUNDATION OF YOUR MARRIAGE, and all marital problems stem from a lack of it. Got a problem? You don't need a solution. You need more love. LOVE IS YOUR SOLUTION!
Sound hokey? I know it does. Think about it though. Remember when you fell in love? What problems did you have then? Hardly any, right? Because you had love!
You know that little thing your spouse does with their eye brow or the corner of their mouth? Remember how you used to think it was so cute? Then one day it became annoying, right? Why? Your spouse used to be thrifty and now your spouse is cheap. WHAT CHANGED? Your love changed—that's what changed! And the solution to that annoying problem (and all your problems!) is to rebuild your love.
The problem in most marriages is the way the couple (and sometimes the counselor) sees the problem. If you see your problems as the problem; that's your problem.
When people schedule private phone sessions with me or when they register for the Marriage Fitness Tele-Boot Camp, their first inclination is to ask me for a solution to their marriage problems. My solution is for them to institute a series of positive relationship habits that slowly but surely builds a new foundation for their marriage.
Fixing problems and developing communication skills can lead to small incremental changes in your marriage. But if you want to transform your marriage, if you want to make a quantum change, you have to implement a pattern of new relationship habits. You have to create love.
People get all bogged down in the negativity of trying to solve their problems. It's no fun and it's not productive. The crucial question in marriage is NOT how to solve your problems; it's how to create love.
Your problems probably seem complex. But the good news is that the solutions are simple. Be a hedgehog. Focus on building your love. That will solve ALL your problems.
Author & Founder of Marriage Fitness