Making Those Early Marriage Adjustments
- Dennis Rainey Executive Director of FamilyLife Ministries
- 2002 26 Nov
In at least one aspect, marriage is like football. In a close game, the winning team is usually the one that made the most significant adjustments in strategy along the way. That's what effective coaches do at halftime--give their players the key adjustments that will gain them the advantage in the final quarters.
A winning marriage requires the same mind-set. A husband and wife need to recognize that surprises requiring proactive adjustments await them in their relationship. Barbara and I were no exception. Perhaps the biggest adjustment we faced early in marriage resulted from our differing backgrounds. Barbara grew up in a nice suburban setting near Chicago and later in a suburb of Houston. I grew up in Ozark, Missouri, a tiny town in the sticks. Barbara came into our marriage a refined young lady. I was a genuine hillbilly. In some ways, we seemed to have come from two different countries, and on some issues, different galaxies.
Some issues triggering the need for adjustments in marriage are major: being raised in a dual- or single-parent family; being an only child or growing up with several siblings; coming from an economically challenged family or a family that had it all; growing up with parents who did not embrace religious faith. The list goes on and on: opposite personalities, differing cultural backgrounds.
Minimally, a couple will have to adjust to differing traditions, values, habits, and rules learned in unique backgrounds. As time passes, other adjustments to sexual performance, financial pressures, and job demands may be required. And let's not forget a big adjustment in a small package--spelled B-A-B-Y! That's right: the first child.
Often the minor differences cause the most frustration and require the most creative flexibility. Someone has said, "We are worn down less by the mountain we climb than by the grain of sand in our shoe."
One of those tiny grains of sand can be the toilet seat. The husband may come from a family of all boys where the toilet seat's default position was up. If this guy marries a girl from a family of all girls, where the seat remained in the horizontal dimension, you know the potential for conflict and the need for adjustment.
In our home, for years a grain of sand was the way I "helped" Barbara by putting my socks in the clothes hamper wrong side out so that "the dirty side got washed." She has finally trained me to do it the "right" way.
Every married individual must adjust to qualities in a spouse that were not noticed or were ignored during the dreamy days of dating. How many people have encountered a painful frustration in marriage and asked themselves, Why did I do this? Did I marry the wrong person?
If these questions arise, you need to confront them immediately. If you don't resolve these doubts promptly, they will hang indefinitely like a distant storm cloud on the horizon of your relationship.
Anyone struggling with this question should go back to the biblical admonition in Genesis 2:24-25, where spouses are commanded to leave, cleave, become one flesh, and be completely transparent with each other. If you are bothered by such doubts, face them by getting away alone for a weekend to seek out the Lord and pray for His peace on this matter.
Let me assure you that you are married to the right person. How do I know this? Because God hates divorce and wants your marriage to last. You may have gone against some biblical admonitions in getting to where you are in your marriage, but the Scripture is clear: You're not to try to undo a "mistake" and, in the process, make a second mistake.