Saturday, June 16, 2012
Marriage Tips for the First Decade: Take off the Mask (Mask #7)
Mask #7: If you aren’t happy all or most of the time, maybe you shouldn’t be together.
Scripture to consider: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4, NIV)
The General Reality: God really says it all with this topic’s Scripture to consider. When someone we love is going through some type of trial in their life, it is common for us to look at their situation and assume the worst. We say things like, “I’m so sorry” or “If there’s anything I can do…” or “That’s so sad.” Even worse, we might assume we know the outcome of their situation (often a way out of not knowing what else to say) by making the mistake of saying something like “Things will get better” or “Everything is going to be OK” or “Just hang in there!” First of all, we don’t really know that everything is going to be OK, do we? We say we are sorry but we carry about our business, often forgetting all about it ten minutes later because we have enough on our own plates. Why worry about others’ problems? What’s even sadder is that we often use these experiences to pass judgment on another person’s situation.
When my wife and I were at our worst point in our marriage, I found it somewhat surprising how many family members and friends used that situation to convince me that my marriage was doomed. False ideas were put into my head. Some told me that maybe we shouldn’t be together anymore. Some blamed it women. Others told me that I was too immature to have a lasting marriage. Others used the opportunity to drive a wedge between us because they didn’t really like us together from the start. I started to believe that the situation was hopeless. Finding real support was almost impossible. Everyone had their opinion but few, if any, had the long-term success of our marriage in their hearts. Nobody told me what God later taught me.
Sometimes, pain is exactly what we need to push us over the edge into a territory that we have not yet explored. Let’s face it! We get comfortable with our daily lives and routines. The thought of changing anything or stepping outside of our comfort zone scares us. The interesting thing about pain is that while experiencing it, we often find ourselves in unchartered territory. When we encounter unchartered territory, we find that we are forced to do something unheard of – we are forced to learn and grow! I mean, did you really think life was constant? I have heard a couple of pastors say it: There are three kinds of people – those who are going into a trial, those are already in the middle of one, and those who are coming out of one. If you are floating on cloud nine right now, get ready because it’s about to get ugly sometime soon. This world has a way of force-feeding you trouble (John 16:33). This trouble will find you in all places in life – your marriage, your career, your extended family, your friends, your church, in your own heart, and in every other place imaginable. What a blessing it is to be called a friend by the One and Only Jesus Christ, who has already conquered it all for us! Take heart, He says, for He has conquered the world! Guess what folks?! If the world gives us nothing but trouble and Christ is the only One who can conquer the world, then this is good news for us. This means that putting our full trust in Jesus Christ conquers all our troubles as well.
Needless to say, I am still married to my wonderful wife today. I have God to thank for that. Believe when I say that trouble still finds us; it’s knocking at our door every day. But I can honestly say that after being in a relationship with her for 13 years and being married to her for 9, I love her and care for her more today than I ever have before. I also know that God will use additional trials over the next several years to grow that love tenfold. I believe that soon, my love for my wife will make the love that I feel for her today seem like “puppy love.” All I have to do is trust in the One who gave her to me to show me the way.
If you feel like your situation is hopeless and maybe it’s not your relationship as a whole, but maybe it’s just one particular problem within your relationship that has just been chewing you up lately, don’t lose hope. Ask God to step in and fix it for you. Let Him show you how He can conquer your troubles. I am confident that He can teach you everything you need to know to make it right again. I don’t even know you or what your situation is but I know that God can make it right because that’s the promise He gave us all and He told us that we can have full confidence in that (Philippians 4:13)! Take heart and know that love conquers all things!
· Talk about a time when you came through a trial that resulted in improving your marriage or relationship today.
· Can you think of a time where God fixed an impossible situation in your marriage?
· In what ways can you lean more on Jesus to help you in your marriage?
· Try scheduling regular “date nights” with your spouse, if possible.
· Try praying daily with your spouse about your marriage. If you don’t get an immediate answer on a specific issue, keep persistently praying. If they don’t want to pray with you, do it by yourself, in private.
· Take 10-15 minutes a day to just talk about your day with your spouse.
· When the pressure seems to great, try to focus on doing something positive for others (or your spouse). This often helps reduce negative feelings.