Myths of Marriage: Marriage in a Paint Can, Part II
- Wednesday, February 07, 2001
People like to toss around partial truths related to marriage and that need to be examined. One of them is that it is not so important whom you marry, as who you are in marriage. I believe this is not the full picture. We all need to start with ourselves in marriage. It is critically important who we are and how we behave in marriage. Trying to change our mate by pointing fingers at them is not the road to marital happiness. Time and time again I see that I have a lifetime of things to work on in my marriage before Ill be able to say that I am a totally Godly, healthy person.
Having said that, it absolutely is critical whom you marry. People who marry outside the faith, people who marry those with emotional wounds or destructive habits are in a different place than those who marry people without these characteristics. This is not to say that some of those marriages cannot work or that God cannot do tremendous things in those relationships. But whom you marry is a large part of the equation and it determines what you have to work with. Marrying someone who is of similar beliefs and reasonably healthy, who knows how to love, to exercise self-control, and who has expectations of life in the same ball park as you means much to the marital union.
I am thankful that as a 19-year-old boy, I found someone with whom I was compatible. Over the years our compatibility has helped us focus our energies on growth rather than having to fight over basic common interests and perspective. It is a blessing to have similar things about our life direction. Marriage has seasons just as individuals have seasons. Now, after twenty-eight years, my wife and I are plowing through into the mid-life season. With mid-life comes particular issues that were not prominent at other times. As we move to the later years, still other seasonal changes will occur and must be handled properly. Just as God has built in the unfolding of development in maturation so He also has a social and emotional development that occurs across the span of life. I am learning that one can accept and plan for these changes, one can ignore them, or one can fight. I continue to seek ways to accept what God brings through the adventure of marriage. I want the courage to submit each day to Him.
Another marriage myth (and a dangerous one at that) is that Christians get married only to give and not take. Women are especially prone to this error because being a helpmate can sound like they are to minister to their husbands without regard to their own needs.
Christian marriage is where two individuals become one. It involves ministry but is much more than ministry. It demands great self-control, self-denia, and giving. It requires being a real person, someone who can speak the truth in love," someone who will not deny the other sexual fulfillment, someone who could confront you if you sin. Even the Proverbs 31 woman does not define herself completely by her husband. She is no passive person or she could never be a wise businesswoman or someone who can hire good servants.
A healthy Christian marriage requires two people who can be loving, giving, assertive, firm, and real. As iron sharpens iron, so one man (spouse?) sharpens another." You dont sharpen your spouse with tissue paper. The self-effacing, passive, always giving women are likely candidates for burnout and depression. Some of these people last many years in the role of I have no needs This martyr spouse, however, is doomed to fail. I can tell you if my wife was just a yes person I would not have grown over the years in ways God wants me to. Living in the community of the family stretches each person because of the differences. There is no other way to experience marital growth except through the differences.
Working through hurts and emotional pain is a necessary part of the path to emotional intimacy. Just as suffering was a part of Gods eternal plan for the redemption of man, so working through of our humanity and the relationship hurts helps accomplish the things of God. Of course, no one in their right mind would pray for pain or discomfort and I dont see myself as a person particularly tolerant of loneliness or unfulfillment. But, there is much to learn in working through the maintenance of a loving relationship. I suspect far more of my lessons have been learned because of the healthy processing of pain than through the successes and the joys.
Let the process of your marriage illuminate the things you need to keep working on. Value and celebrate the ways a loyal, committed, assertive relationship files the rough spots off each other. Give the process to God as He shapes you into his creation.
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