So my wife and I get into it! What a surprise. Early on in our marriage, I did what any insane, first-year married man would do, I took her to marriage counseling to fix her. What happened next, was not what I expected.
The marriage counselor told me that it was a good thing we were fighting; in fact, it was the couples who did not fight that he was most concerned about. He turned on me to get my act together as the leader and father I should be. And a great deal of what he said was right, even though it was hard to swallow it.
By the way, what is the opposite of love? It is not hate. See this post for that.
They say that there are three rings, the engagement ring, the wedding ring and the suffering…
All joking aside, marriage is a gift of God and a reflection of his very image. When your marriage is suffering, what are some simple ways, (and it is never that simple) to deal with it?
First, we are not created to be alone.
Other people make us who we are and even don’t want to be. The company we keep does make a difference on the life we live. There is no psychologist who would disagree with this theory. We are not made to be alone. In fact, as Jim Rohin said, you are “the average of the five people you most spend most time with!” That does not mean you have to get married. No it is better to remain miserable single than miserable married! 🙂 Again, Im joking. Jesus never married and he was as complete as you can be as a human being. So getting married is not the be all of life. But it is important and a blessing if you take that journey. If you are married or single, being alone is not a good thing, check out Genesis 2:18 where God says this about Adam.
Did you know that even God was never alone? Before he created everything, God, was and is a community in unity in the blessed external Trinity.
So, if your marriage is suffering, and you feel alone in it, stop doing it alone. Find people who are doing it right, get close to them and start to make some changes.
Second, marriage is a reflection of God’s character and love for his people.
Yes, my secular friends, the first major book to talk about marriage was the book of Genesis. It started in the Bible. On a personal note, marriage for me, has been one of the most difficult and stressful times of my life. But at the same time, it has brought me sustained joy and rewarding memories I would not trade for anything or anyone in this world! My love for God, my career, my children has been unilaterally altered and changed by my precious and beloved Luciana. Without her in my life, I would not be where I am today.
Marriage is God’s special reflection of a deep reality, his relationship with us. Wow. That is so cool. Read the very sensual book of Song of Songs to see that allegory.
So love her, even when you don’t feel like it, and even when you don’t like her. For love is much more and much deeper than mere feelings.
Third, –DANGER–DANGER–politically incorrect talk incoming…..Husbands, we are to be the head of our home.
Being the head of our home means to lead by example, to take responsibility for your household. Let me say something that is counter intuitive.
The husband’s divine calling to take primary responsibility for Christlike leadership, protection, and provision. The most explicit texts relating directly to headship and submission in marriage are Genesis 1–3; Ephesians 5:21–33; Colossians 3:18–19; 1 Timothy 3:2, 4, 12; Titus 2:5; and 1 Peter 3:1–7.
For more detail on what headship really means see this link.
Consider this from CS Lewis:
“We must go back to our bibles. The husband is the head of the wife…he is to her what Christ is to the church, he is to love her as Christ loved in the church and gave his life for her, this headship is most fully embodied not in the husband we wish to be but in him whose marriage is most like a crucifixion “ – C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves (1960; Harcourt Brace: 1991) 105-106.
What he is saying is that we husbands need to die to our selfishness like on a cross. Sometimes we need to sacrifice what we want now, for what we want most.
So then step up, take responsibly for your role in the marriage. Do what you should be doing, regardless of the circumstances and the lack of positive response from others or your spouse. I mean to do that with wisdom and kindness and most of all love.
Now, since I am on a roll, let’s go for one final counter-initiative issue.
Forth, we should love our wives not more but less! Yes, you heard me, love her less.
We are to love her more than fame, or wealth, or career, or boats, or sports (GO CUBS) or anything! Yes we are to love her more than these. We are to love our wives more than our very breath. And when children come, we are still to show to her that she is our priority. But again I say love her more by loving her less.
Read John Piper’s poem to his son on his wedding day….
I am saying love her less than God. Why? Because if you don’t, you make her out to be a god and that is not healthy for you or her, because she is not a god.
By loving God more than your wife, you will by default, love her more than life.
In most relationships on earth, we will go through what Timothy Keller in his book the Meaning of Marriage, calls Frightening Spells. Here is what he said:
“…frightening spells in which your feelings of love dry up. And when that happens you must remember that the essence of marriage is that it is a covenant, a commitment, a promise of future love. So what do you do? You do the acts of love, despite your lack of feeling. You may not feel tender, sympathetic, and eager to please, but in your actions you must BE tender, understanding, forgiving and helpful. And, if you do that, as time goes on you will not only get through the dry spells, but they will become less frequent and deep, and you will become more constant in your feelings. This is what can happen if you decide to love. —Timothy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God
Your love for her will not hold your marriage together, but your marriage will hold your love together.
Don’t give up.
If you do give up, the consequences, especially if you have children will be echo in eternity and they will never get over it. They will always remember when you walked out on your wife, and on them. They will blame themselves, if they are little, no matter how many times you tell them it was not their fault, they wlll blame themselves either submliminally or directly.
Don’t give up brother.
And something magical will happen, she may respond in ways that you would call a miracle!
Recommend movie FireProof.
Recommended podcast michaeltanner.org
I strongly recommend the book by Timothy Keller the Meaning of Marriage