How do you keep a marriage from failing?
Some dear friends of ours are going through a tough time. Their marriage is on the rocks. They’ve been struggling for a long time and thier greivances are warranted.
It’s so sad. I’m so glad my husband and I won’t ever have to go through that….or so I once believed.
This past weekend, something got off. I had said or done something to hurt my husband and rather than tell me how he felt, he shut me out. He barely acknowledged when I spoke.
He did all the things he usually does, took care of everyone like he usually does, and was otherwise pleasant to be around, but he didn’t laugh when I made a joke. He didn’t make eye contact when I talked to him. He didn’t answer my questions and acted as though he hadn’t even heard me.
Let me be clear, he was not punishing me for whatever I had done. He was hurt, and simply withdrawn.
But his withdrawal hurt me.
Neither of us was angry.
We didn’t have a fight.
There were no raised voices or blaming remarks, just a lessening of affection, an uncomfortable tension, and slight avoidance.
And that’s when it hit me.
Our Marriage Could Fail
Not because of this one incident, but if we were to allow a slight divide like this continue, the gap would widen.
His avoiding would become ignoring.
My hurt would become bitterness.
His withdrawal would develop into a closed heart.
My confusion would develop into fear of being hurt again and ultimately closing my own hear.
Years of this sort of thing would build up. The wounds would fester and deepen becoming harder and harder to heal.
Our two hearts, though once one, would drift further and further from each other until they were no longer unified.
It could happen to any of us really.
If we let it.
That night, as we went to bed, I laid aside my hurt and considered that he might be upset about something.
I pressed him, “what is wrong? You don’t seem yourself.” I KNOW my husband and he knows that I know him! He knows that I can see through his “fine” and recognize when something is bothering him.
I CHOSE to submit my hurt feelings, and act in love toward him.
He then CHOSE to become vulnerable enough to explain to me what was bothering him.
It wasn’t easy for either of us, but it’s so much easier than a lifetime of pain and bitterness.
What keeps our marriage from failing?
What keeps our marriage from failing is a repetitive choice to forgive, to seek understanding, to look to each others needs, to become vulnerable.
Ephesians 5 says wives should submit to their husbands as they would to God.
As to God? Hmm, I trust God completely. I know that when something in my life is not going right, I need to ask God to reveal to me what I’m missing. I trust Him to respond to me in love and wisdom. Which flows right into the next bit of scripture!
Husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.
Submit. Give yourself up.
Those sound awfully similiar don’t they? Wives submit. Husbands give themselves up. There’s a subtle difference, but yes, the command to wives and husbands is quite similar. We both have to put aside self-centered thinking for the good of our relationship, indeed, for the good of our spirit!
I Peter has similar advice for wives in chapter 3.
Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.
Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.
There’s nothing weak about the implied power of a marriage! Husbands can be won over by their wives’ behavior! Their prayers can be hindered by disrespect to their wives. Whoa.
So what are we to do?
Love one another.
(1 Peter 3:8)
You’ve heard the phrase love is a choice.
Marriage is a choice.
My marriage won’t fail!
And not because I choose to stay in a broken marriage no matter what. My marriage won’t fail because we have learned (often the hard way) to work at it, to look beyond insults, to be compassionate, humble.
If your marriage is breaking, if you feel a drifting of your hearts, if you’re afraid of the barbs that may come from your spouse’s words, if you’re never sure what to expect….
Please seek help. Get yourself to a professional counselor. If you are Christian, choose a counselor with Biblical knowledge and tactics. If your spouse won’t agree to go, you go alone at first.
Do you ever feel the slow drift? What do you do to combat it?
Date Nights and Coffee,