Thoughts at a wedding
Keeping our relationships in proper perspective
We went to a wedding in Michigan recently. Watching that young couple exchange vows got me thinking about the marriage relationship.
Issues arise in marriage that I can fix well enough by just hardening my heart: Presto! No more problem!
This is not an option for us.
I know a trick you can play in your mind where nothing bothers you because you reduce your husband’s size in your life, displacing him with other interests and hobbies. “There’s more to life than marriage,” you say to yourself.
Not an option either.
This silent divorce in the heart has the appearance of an improvement over tantrums, but of course it’s just slipping off the saddle on the opposite side of the horse.
Slipping off one or the other side of God’s commands for holy living is what Scripture warns against: “Do not turn aside from any of the words that I command you today, to the right hand or to the left” (Deuteronomy 28:14).
Ongoing self-examination avoids demonic traps (2 Corinthians 13:5)—put to death words and motives that are more manipulation than ministry. As a pastor once put it: “You should see the devil’s desk: It’s covered with overflowing ashtrays and half-drunk cups of coffee.”
Note, for instance, how the dubious referenced pulling-away technique is the counterfeit of some actual good advice in 1 Corinthians 7:29-31: “Let those who have wives live as though they had none. … For the present form of this world is passing away.” This God-given recommendation for reminding oneself that marriage is a temporary arrangement is His comfort to the wife laboring under a difficult yoke (1 Peter 3:1; 1 Samuel 25). Also, it is a caution for the woman who has made her husband everything. Each of us will appear before the judgment seat alone.
Making your husband everything and making him nothing are two relationship IEDs hiding on the side of the road. Make him too small and you forfeit the many joyful blessings of one-fleshness. Make him too big and you devour him, and assure your own permanent misery. “No love affair between a man and a woman has ever been great enough to hang everything on. It will crumble away under your feet” (True Spirituality, Francis Schaeffer).
The two genders tend to two different imbalances. That was common knowledge as recently as 1992 (Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus), before it was not culturally permitted to notice the obvious. One comedian riffed on how women are the only people able to turn a compliment into an argument: He: “You look beautiful today.” She: “You mean I didn’t look beautiful yesterday?”
An old Prairie Home Companion sketch depicts a couple driving down the road. She breaks the silence, putting out feelers: “Well, what do you know, today marks the sixth month since our first date.” His gaze still over the steering wheel, her male companion thinks to himself, “Six months … six months. When did I get my last oil change?”
Schaeffer continues: “The finally sufficient relationship must be with God himself. As Christians we have this relationship, and so our human relationships can be valid without being the finally sufficient thing. … When two Christians find that their relationship has hit a wall, they can come hand-in-hand and bring their failures under the blood of Christ, and get up and go on.”
Keeping God as my No. 1 relationship, “I can take from a human relationship what God meant it to provide, without putting the whole structure under an intolerable burden. … I can enjoy that which is beautiful in a relationship without expecting it to be perfect.”
It all comes down to faith, as a friend once reminded me in my own time of need. By which she meant nothing more than believing God. Believing Him now, and five minutes from now, and all the days of your life with the man to whom you made a vow to love for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer.
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