I was thinking recently over some of the thoughts that I have expressed here, and a few other ideas. And something that struck me was that there are so many ways to have a great marriage. If a couple just applied some of these things or other ideas, (not necessarily things that I have written) or perhaps if they dabbled here and there with a few different ideas this month, and a few different ideas next month…
The point though, of course, is that it is so easy to say this before you get married. I considered my own life, and some of my own various interactions with people – the successful interactions, as well as the not so successful interactions. I asked myself – what can these past examples teach me about my own real tendencies to be expressed in a marriage, beyond the theories that I am talking about here? Will I have the patience to persevere as necessary, or will I easily get fed up? Will I let myself get to the point where I am no longer giving 100% – perhaps no longer giving anything whatsoever – just existing in simmering (shimmering) anger, but all the same staying put for the sake of avoiding divorce?
So then these are some reasons why it might be easy to say these things in theory, where in practice the reality might be very different. Is it also possible (considering my… ahem…slightly hot head…) that when I feel justly annoyed, I will refuse to even give the necessary time to engage in all these deep conversations for the sake of moving our marriage forward? “Just leave me alone! I don’t have any time to talk about anything just now! Remember what I said on what blog?! I just don’t care! I don’t want to know!” It’s quite humorous to be writing this out now, but this is sincerely the real me, and this is sincerely the way I would behave when annoyed.
This post is not about myself, the point is that though there are seemingly many ways to have a great marriage, the fact is that many people of course, sadly, do not have great marriages. (On the other hand, many people do have great marriages, and I think that that fact is to be celebrated, and promoted.) I was asking myself, what factors could be present in the marriage to prevent progress, even if you wanted to apply some helpful ideas?
These are the ideas that occurred to me:
1. If your marriage is just built on a false foundation. If there is something unacceptable about your marriage to start off with, then you can try as hard as you wish….but you will never be able to right that wrong foundation.
I was also thinking recently that a marriage might seem successful to everyone else looking on, even to the two spouses within it. However, that does not necessarily mean that it is successful in God’s eyes.
2. If your spouse just refuses to engage with your ideas whatsoever. I have previously in this post written about the way I am likely to react when I am very angry. However, when I have cooled down, I hope I will have the humility to sheepishly ask for forgiveness (I was initially going to write “beg” for forgiveness, but then I thought that that might be going a little too far…oh dear!), remind him how much I adore him (“I hate it when we argue..my darling!”) and generally renew my willingness to try out some of these ideas and to try to stimulate earnest communication between us.
However it is surely possible that you find yourself with a spouse who is simply not open to trying out anything. Perhaps they might feel a little defensive when you suggest that the two of you could try talking more, and then you have to find a diplomatic way of saying it so that you don’t suggest that there is something wrong with them, or they don’t get the message that that might be what you are trying to suggest. This is one of the reasons why I am praying for a husband with/to whom I will be able to talk frankly, so that we don’t have to tiptoe awkwardly around issues. I am not saying that I will go out of my way to offend him, and I trust that he would not do that for me either. The point ultimately is that there might be spouses who just refuse to co-operate in working with you for the sake of working on your marriage, who refuse to acknowledge that there is anything that needs to be worked on. And what you want to work on might be something that is very important to you, and yet your spouse casually brushes it off. Their continued refusal to work on the issue might be very painful to you.
On one hand there are so many ways to have a great marriage. However a marriage might potentially last for a number of years. I’m asking myself:
“Over all those years, how might a marriage fail?”
And then to counteract that: “How might a marriage succeed?”
The point about the length of the marriage is that over so many years, it will require so much dedication to just keep being committed, to keep being emotionally present, to keep making an effort, to keep telling him that you adore him, to not just let yourselves relax into a rut of comfortable apathy with one another.
Perhaps ultimately the greatest chance of success you would have is if you married someone who is determined to just keep trying, if the two of you genuinely embrace a commitment to just keep pressing on, to put mistakes behind you, to give each other a fresh slate every day (like God does with each one of us Lamentations 3v22-23). I guess you also have to be committed to seek out the positive points about your spouse and what you are grateful for about your spouse – perhaps things over which they have no control, things for which they were never actually responsible to start with. And then you just have to keep reminding yourself of these positive points – because it can be so easy to see negative things. But if you keep positive points in mind, then hopefully that will help you to feel optimistic about your marriage, which will in turn also empower you to keep working away, to keep persevering and investing your love into their life.
22 Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
23 They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
Photo of Wedding cake and figurines by Splitshire on Pixabay