Two Imperfect People – Perfect for one another
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8-9 NIV
As I write this I am keenly aware that some of you have heartbreaking stories of a marriage that has not gone the way you planned and perhaps has ended way before you dreamed. I do understand that marriage can be a battlefront. Arguably, marriage is the most intimate and vulnerable relationship we can have with a person. Marriage requires humility to trust that the covenant made at the Altar will be equally valued to our spouse – no matter the circumstances: “for better or for worse”. Perhaps we need to start spelling out the possible “worse” case scenarios so that we are more equipped to work toward reconciliation when those days arrive.
If you have had a failed relationship, this article is not intended to shame you, but rather to encourage you. If you are struggling – it is intended to refocus and strengthen you; if you are in a good place in marriage – to commend you. It takes work to be married! Paul even says, “So I say to those who aren’t married and to widows–it’s better to stay unmarried, just as I am.” 1 Corinthians 7:8 But for those who must marry, it is important to know that the marriage will be a journey of “for better and for worse”. There will be glorious, blissful days and there will be heart-crushing difficult days.
When our spouse strikes a chord in us, if we let our minds – our creative, active, image-making brains – take over: we will be taken far away from the Truth in the Philippians 4:8-9 admonition to meditate on truth. We will let doubt and lies creep in and our husband (wife) will be hung without a jury. And even if we don’t say anything to him about it, we will have an edge to our voice, we will have resentment in our heart, because in some odd, twisted way we believe what our mind has made up.
Advice for staying married:
Be Forthright – our brains have a need to fill in the gaps. Do not leave information out or your spouse will fill in the blanks with all matter of possible negatives. Because in his/her mind, if it were positive – you would have shared it!
Extend Grace – do your very best to think positive thoughts of your spouse, until given concrete evidence, even if you have a history. If there has been progress-extend grace, as much as possible. Study Exodus 11-17, take note of the forgetful, grumbling, ungrateful Israelites and their persistent, merciful, grace-filled God who continued to lead and provide and did not strike them down.
Empathize. How would my spouse respond to me if the circumstances were reversed? Does he/she have a different love language or personality style? Is this conflict a misunderstanding due to our differences versus a conscious breach of trust?
Do something you don’t like to do JUST because your spouse likes it. This goes a long way to show that you care about her and you are willing to sacrifice on her behalf.
Talk it out. When there is a cloud of doubt, talk it out. Ladies, this does not mean ‘whenever’ you feel like it. Your husband may process things differently than you and may need some time to go to his man-cave to let off steam or to process. But as you pray you will sense a leading to know when to bring up the soreness and humbly approach your husband. Men, don’t just stuff it and move on! Your wife needs to know that you care! How will she know if you seem like it is ‘no big deal’ – that translates to her that SHE is no big deal. Talk it out. Seek first to understand the other person’s perspective and then seek to have your side understood. Be sure to engage in genuine empathic listening and to reflect what you are hearing.
Pray – there is no greater marital strength than prayer. I know there is evidence of marriages that make it without prayer, but I know from first hand experience that prayer has been the most powerful ingredient to bring joy and cohesion than any other element in our marriage.
My prayer for you: Lord, thank you for your provision and leading to pair imperfect people in the perfect way. Thank you that you use the good and the bad for your glory, and help us to rely more on your strength than our own weakness. Lord, I ask that you bless each marriage represented by each reader and their extended families. I ask that you impart humility and grace upon the hearts and minds of each spouse and that your Holy Spirit will unite these loved ones and that you will provide a protective Shield over each marriage keeping the enemy at bay and your powerful grace-filled, love at the center of their hearts and mind’s for each other. Lord, I also believe with those who are estranged from their spouse, that you are able to do immeasurably more than we can imagine – fill each one with faith and hope in You. Amen.