A 3-Step Marital Reality Check
- Barry R. Leventhal, Ph.D. <i>Two Becoming One</i>
- 2007 3 Mar
If you’re married, you probably know the feeling that comes when the honeymoon ends and reality hits. Many husbands and wives then ask, “What have we gotten ourselves into?” When we first “fall in love,” raging hormones and emotional highs transform reality into romanticism and even idealism. Added to all of this, is the romantic spin that media puts on everything that is even remotely related to love, sex, and marriage.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with a little romance and idealism — as long as they don’t blind us to the reality of everyday married life. So for our marital reality check we must turn to the book of Ecclesiastes. This inspired wisdom book weaves together three major themes that directly connect us with reality from the divine perspective. It is like three strands to a powerful cord. All three strands must be tightly woven together or the whole book will unravel.
"A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart" (Ecclesiastes 4:12).
So what are these three strands of reality that will help a married couple face factual reality and not some kind of virtual reality?
Reality Strand 1: Life can be very difficult and perplexing.
"Furthermore, I have seen under the sun that in the place of justice there is wickedness and in the place of righteousness there is wickedness" (Ecclesiastes 3:16).
When we first fall in love, romantic love has a way of blinding us to life as it really is in a fallen world. Yes, it is true that Jesus said to His disciples, “I have come that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). But He also said to them, “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33).
Life can be hard at times, even destructive. Disappointments descend. Frustrations abound. Only when a married couple embraces this first reality, will they be able to trust God for all the good things that He has for them.
Reality Strand 2: Ultimately God will right all wrongs.
“God will bring to judgment both the righteous and the wicked, for there will be a time for every activity, a time for every deed” (Ecclesiastes 3:17).
“God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether is it good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:14).
In our marital journey, with all of its difficulties and perplexities, many of us have been wronged by others and experienced injustice. This can be very taxing on the husband or wife who desires justice for their spouse.
But we can rest assured, knowing that in the long run, if our just cause is not dealt with fairly in this life, it certainly will be in the next. Good will ultimately prevail. The Enemy may have the latest word, but God will have the last word!
Reality Strand 3: While we wait for God’s judgment, we are to obey Him and enjoy the pleasures He has provided.
“I know that everything God does will remain forever; there is nothing to add to it and there is nothing to take from it, for God has so worked that men should fear [obey] Him” (Ecclesiastes 3:14).
"There is nothing better for a man than to eat and drink and tell himself that his labor is good. This also I have seen that it is from the hand of God. For who can eat and who can have enjoyment without Him?" (Ecclesiastes 2:24-25).
Go then, eat your bread in happiness and drink your wine with a cheerful heart; for God has already approved your works…. Enjoy life with the woman whom you love all the days of your fleeting life which He has given to you under the sun; for this is your reward in life and in your toil in which you have labored under the sun (Ecclesiastes 9:7, 9).
As we trust and obey God, while moving through life’s marital journey in the wilderness of this world, He will supply an oasis from time to time – like a day off, an evening together, a secluded weekend, a vacation, etc. Take advantage of them. They are God’s loving reminders that while life can at times be hard and even cruel, He still cares for His own and will ultimately right all wrongs and bring in His everlasting kingdom for all who have come to know Him in a personal way.
In light of this biblical reality check, prayerfully consider the following suggestions:
Do your own reality check: Is your marriage characterized more by romanticism, pessimism, skepticism, cynicism, or realism?
If you are in the midst of one of life’s storms, come together as a couple and pray. It may not be a matter of sin on your part. You may be under attack. If it is a matter of sin, confess it to God and to each other. Get others to pray with and for you.
When is the last time, as a couple, that you really enjoyed one of God’s good oases? When can you take advantage of the next one He brings your way? Pray about it and thank God for all of His good gifts — especially in the midst of your wilderness journey.
© 2003 Christian Family Life
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