This week I have been sifting through a number of Huggie-Wuggie posts. While doing that, a few thoughts occurred to me. The one I want to share now is the following: Does everyone else know something that I do not? People (in my experience) tend to march so confidently into marriage, with such confident expectations of success. Just today, this very day as I am writing this, I was talking with a friend, who optimistically predicted that we would both be married to our respective husbands by the end of the year, even though we are currently in August. As she is a serious Christian like me, it might be more fitting to say that she prophesied. At this, my face would have gone white, if it had that capability. (In the event, it stayed exactly the same shade of brown as normal.) I told her that to meet a man, to get to know him, court him, get engaged and get married all within the space of less than 5 months – that has never been my dream, or my desire, or my prayer. Although I conceded that God could work a miracle like this of course – after all, He did create this whole universe in seven days! (OK, if we’re going to get technical, it was six days, plus a holiday on the seventh!)
Anyway, my point was that I don’t actually regard such a quick-fix thing as something positive to ask or strive for.
However, this conversation tied in generally with a few thoughts I’ve been thinking. I’ve been asking myself whether everyone else knows something which I don’t know. Here I am, carefully analysing practically everything I can think of regarding marriage, to be sure of building a great foundation for this lifelong commitment. However, I’ve been asking myself whether I’ve been making everything much more complicated than it has to be. Perhaps this following is what other people know, that makes them so much more confident of success in marriage, and making a good choice: for a good marriage, all you have to do is get two good lives, or two excellent lives – and merge them! So where I have been thinking of trying to plan ahead for communication, building a foundation of friendship, learning to pray together, perhaps this is a much simpler way of thinking about the thing…perhaps!
Perhaps it is like this (perhaps! I’m not quite ready to throw away all my hard work of thinking just yet!) If we are two people living excellent lives and we merge these two lives together excellently, then we have an excellent marriage. Conversely if we have two everyday people living everyday lives and we merge them together in an unremarkable way then we would probably have a typical everyday marriage. Perhaps this is what drives other people to such confidence: the simple knowledge that the level of your marriage is largely dictated by your own personal level, and that of your spouse. When I talk about excellent people, I am talking about excellence in character, as always. Perhaps this is why other people do not feel compelled to examine in such detail the various topics that have plagued my own mind..
In this model, there are only three simple things that you have to consider concerning your marriage, whether this is before you get married, or within your marriage:
Your personal excellence in terms of character
The excellence of your spouse in terms of character
The success of your merging together, or your oneness. I could say “unity” but that implies two separate entities who are working together. In marriage, the aspiration is that the two of you actually become one entity.
Doing extremely well
However, we must not allow ourselves to become complacent. I recently came across a thought-provoking adage: “Nothing fails like success”, meaning that failure often strikes when you are, or appear to be, at the height of success. This will often be due to complacency that you might have allowed to set in.
Some work needed (in reality this would probably correspond to an amazingly outstanding marriage)
So at any point, any issue in your marriage could be down to one of these three things – or a combination of the three. Of course, these are completely subjective judgements – there is nothing concrete about any of these evaluations. You and your spouse might separately evaluate your marriage and come up with completely different bar graphs. Typically, I think men tend to think their marriages are going very well, while their wives might be less optimistic. However, having an idea will at least give you something to work with, and if your spouse is also monitoring the marriage, then they can also be working within the bounds of what they think to keep pulling the bars upwards.
I must say this kind of thinking would simplify the marriage issue greatly. So if any problem arose, you could try to analyse this issue along these three metrics: Is there a character trait of mine that is contributing to this issue? Is there a character trait of his that is contributing to this issue? (It might not be an actual flaw on either side, it might merely be a level of development that you have not yet reached – would you blame a baby for not yet being able to ride a bike?) And then, is there an element of the way our lives are merged together which might be contributing to this? By this, I generally mean the communication between us regarding our combined lives. And then once you have done your best to analyse the situation, you could work on rectifying the necessary issues. If you have identified an aspect of your own character that could be contributing to the problem, then you could pray for God’s help to change that, and actually set about trying to change it. You could also find a way to let your spouse know that you acknowledge your weakness, and are working on it.
14 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.