As iron sharpens iron.
Accountability is a vague term; it is elusive and hard to define. Yet we all have some sense of its meaning. Accountability means we answer to someone, generally someone with some sort of authority or position over us. It means we have certain responsibilities that we are obliged to fulfill and that a day of reckoning, or a “counting” of the completion of those responsibilities, is coming. It is generally a concept only applied to the workplace where consequences such as the loss of said work can occur. Or it can apply to the community where failures to abide by the law can result in jail time. Rarely do we apply the concept of accountability to our marriages, and my husband Mike and I believe this is a mistake, for the consequences of failing to meet each other’s needs can have the most devastating repercussions of all–complete and utter heartbreak.
Within these healthy relationships, we can glean or give precious advice and encouragement to one another. We can talk of the more intimate details of our marriage and know that this person will never deliberately sabotage our spouse. My aunt, who is someone I trust, once told me that whenever any one of her seven children complains to her of their spouse, she always speaks for that spouse who is not present rather than just side with her own child. Someone to which you choose to be accountable should always do this–remind you that there are two sides to every argument or issue and that you, in fact, may be the one at fault. This is accountability at its best; it points out our own failures and helps us to improve. And that is always the goal: to stay sharp, to grow, to be the best we can be, to be sharpened as only other “irons” can sharpen.
Anne Gagliano has been married to Captain Mike Gagliano of the Seattle (WA) Fire Department for 25 years. She and her husband lecture together on building and maintaining a strong marriage.