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Monday, February 11, 2013

Marriage Advice From Admiral Yamamoto

How can a disastrous decision made by a Japanese admiral in 1942 help your marriage? Read on.

In the spring of 1942, Admiral Yamamoto Isoroku formulated a plan to invade and capture Midway, the atoll that forms the extreme northwest point of the Hawaiian Island chain. Capture of the atoll was not the only aim; Yamamoto felt that the Americans would consider the island important enough to send the remainder of the Pacific Fleet (that which had survived Pearl Harbor) out to do battle, where the Japanese forces would destroy them.

It didn't work out quite that way. Through codebreaking and some good guessing, the US Navy knew the Japanese were coming, and lay in wait. On the morning of June 4, 1942, the Japanese launched an air attack on Midway from their four aircraft carriers...and shortly thereafter, the three carriers the US brought to the fight attacked the Japanese fleet. By the end of the day, the Japanese had lost all four carriers, and their naval strength was damaged beyond any hope of repair.

Yamamoto's error was in his assumption that the Americans would be forced to fight for Midway. They didn't; Midway was actually strategically irrelevant. They came out to ambush the Japanese fleet, and in this, they succeeded. Yamamoto chose to do battle based on the Americans' perceived intentions rather than their capabilities, and this is what lost them the battle, and the bulk of their power-projection capital by which they waged war.

What's more, Yamamoto's read on the Americans' perceived intentions was what he would have done. In other words, when he formulated his plans, the crystal ball he used was really a mirror.

This is something that happens in most marriages as a matter of course. We look at our spouses, and what we see, encourage, and react to is what we think they want, and what we think they will do...based on what we want them to do. (Sometimes, it's based on what we don't want them to do...which is what often happens when we pick a fight.)

And we ignore what they're capable of - their God-given potential.

Do you expect your husband to go to go out for couples' dinners, almost every weekend? He dresses up, and goes, and he's sociable, but does he really enjoy it? Or are you superimposing your fun onto his face?

Did your wife decide not to go back into the workforce, or to graduate school, after your kids were grown because she enjoys keeping the house and yard Better Homes and Gardens neat, or because by word and deed you expect that, and gently (and subconsciously) coerce her cooperation?

Is there something you're not seeing, about what she's capable of? I knew a woman who devoured books on healing psychologically scarred children. She dreamt of making a difference, of going back to school to become a counselor. But her husband didn't see it, and he exerted smiling pressure, telling her how much he appreciated the showpiece house they had. He didn't want to see, and never asked her about her choice of reading.

And then she died in an accident, and he found her diary. He thought to burn it unread, but he couldn't bear to sever that last link with the woman he loved. He began to read, and on reading, was devastated that he'd missed the messages she was trying to send.

She hadn't wanted to disappoint him. But she'd hoped he'd notice that a part of her heart felt wasted. She felt loved for what she was...but ignored for what she could be.

Don't you owe it to your spouse, and yourself, to look him or her fully in the face, and not merely look at the mirror with which you block the hesitant and wistful part of their soul?

(Yes, Admiral Yamamoto's name is given correctly...family name first, per proper Japanese usage. And his given names, Isoroku, means..."fifty-six". His father had many children, and named the future leader of the Japanese fleet for the age he was when his son was born. I guess he just ran out of ideas...)

1 comment:

  1. I'm thankful for a spouse,(Happy Birthday, Honey!), who looks me in the eye and says "go for it, I'll be right here, in the background, just listen for the loudest cheers, that'll be me."

    That guy must have felt awful.