Friday, July 10, 2015

Equally Yoked

Long before farmers began using tractors, they would yoke oxen together to plow the fields. A yoke is a contoured crossbar having two U-shaped attachments that fit around the necks of a team of oxen or other draft animals, with a central ring for hitching the team to a cart, plow, or other load. Initially, the oxen have to learn to adapt to being yoked together. One ox cannot walk faster than the other or make any sudden movements. The oxen need to work together as a team each doing their part to pull the plow. As they are learning, the plowed rows may start out crooked but over time both the oxen and farmer learn to work together.

The following story was told by Boyd Packer at a regional representative seminar on April 3, 1975.

"Several years ago with Bill and Allie Marriott, Donna and I went to a country fair in New Hampshire. It was a beautiful fall day and a delightful old-time country fair. The center of attraction was the oxen pulling contest. Several teams of oxen with heavy wooden yokes were lined up to compete. A wooden sledge was weighted with cement blocks: ten thousand pounds—five tons—to begin with. The object was for the oxen to move the sledge three feet.

I noticed a well-matched pair of very large, brindled, blue-gray animals. They were the big-boned, Holstein, Durham-cross, familiar big blue oxen of seasons past. Because of their size, of course they were the favorites.

Each team was given three attempts to move the sledge. If they were able to do so easily, more weight was added until the teams were eliminated one by one. In turn, each team was hitched to the sledge. The teamster would position his animals carefully, pat them, chortle to them, whisper to them, and then at a goad and a loud command they would slam forward against the yoke. Either the weight would move or the oxen were jerked to a halt.

I was amazed and fascinated and turned to an old New Englander in the crowd and asked if he could explain how that could happen. He said, “E-yeh.” (That means yes in New England.) And then he explained. The big blues were larger and stronger and better matched for size than the other team. But the little oxen had better teamwork and coordination. They hit the yoke together. Both animals jerked forward at exactly the same time and the force moved the load.

The big blue oxen didn’t even place! A small, nondescript pair of animals, not very well matched for size, moved the sledge all three times.

One of the big blue oxen had lagged a second or pushed a second too soon—something like a football player being off side—and the force was spent in a glancing blow. The yoke then was twisted and the team jerked to one side and the sledge hardly moved. And thus we see that size and strength are not enough. It takes teamwork as well."

Even though the small unmatched oxen couldn't communicate with words, their actions were clearly in sync as they were able to move the heavy load. Their teamwork helped them win the competition. 
Much like the oxen learning to be equally yoked, it takes time for husbands and wives to learn to work together as a team. In the moments when one seems to be running faster than the other, being yoked together with a common purpose can bring clarity and understanding through the rough times. 

When your in the thick of parenting a special needs child, it becomes even more important to find ways to remain yoked together. The added stress can cause a spouse to "leap forward" or try and "free themselves" from the yoke. Communication becomes a vital tool in expressing to one another concerns that may be causing a disruption in your marriage. Just as the oxen had to learn to work in sync, it will take time for couples to adapt and become one in purpose. Don't be discouraged with the learning process of becoming equally yoked. Seek to understand how your spouse is feeling and make necessary changes to be more equally yoked. Look for ways to communicate and be one in purpose.

Following are the guidelines for the Speaker-Listener Technique that can be used to allow each partner the ability to discuss their feelings without interruption or judgement. 

Basic Rules:
1. The speaker has the floor. Choose an item that the speaker holds when it is there turn to talk. 
2. Share the floor. Each person is allotted an amount of time to be the speaker while the other person listens.
3. There is no problem solving. It isn't a time for the listener to try and solve the problems of the speaker.

Rules for the Speaker:
1. Speak for yourself.
2. Don't go on and on.
3. Stop and let the listener paraphrase what you said to ensure they are understanding what you are trying to say.

Rules for the Listener: 
1. Paraphrase what the speaker is saying.
2. Don't rebut what the speaker says. Remember, it is their feelings. 

Taking time to practice the Speaker-Listener Technique will enhance the communication in your marriage. Your relationship is worth it!

Retreat-at-Home Date Night

Utilize your creativity as a couple and make a talking stick to use for the Speaker-Listener Technique. Find materials that you can use from around your house. Add elements that represent who you are individually and as a couple. It will mean more when you're holding the stick and represent your love and commitment to each other. Watch what Stephen Covey has to say about talking sticks.

After creating your stick, enjoy a treat on a stick. Click the words below to be led to recipes for desserts on a stick.  

No comments:

Post a Comment