Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Your marriage: A wall or a door?

When Dave and I went through premarital counseling we had to take a "relationship assessment." When our counselor received our results back, he said he had never seen a couple come back with answers almost identical like ours were. He began to tell us what the results meant and in summary he said, "couples with your results are the ones who are most likely to stay married forever." At that Dave and I smiled and were pleased to know we wouldn't EVER have any trouble making it work. Then he continued his sentence, "However couples with your results are the most likely to be in marriages forever and be miserable." Great. So we left there excited and totally confused at what he meant by having to work at it. I mean, we had heard marriage was hard, but Dave and I loved each other and ours would be easy. Then we got married.
We are coming up on our seventh anniversary and our marriage though wonderful has been really hard too. Marriage, any marriage is work. Throw kids into the mix and wow! Who knew just liking someone at times would be such a chore.
So, what I'm going to say I'm sure will offend someone because of the nature of this post so get ready.
For the last few weeks, Dave and I have spent countless hours in discussion and prayer, angered and saddened over decisions that people in our lives have been making regarding their marriages and families. Some of our dearest friends have decided that marriage and family is just too hard, too demanding, too much that they have decided to throw it all away for the other side of the fence that always promises to be greener. The single life, the more dangerous man, the life with no accountability all enticing these friends who despite the people around them trying to scream "danger!" are being sucked in.
From blatant affairs to just giving up are the reasons these families are crumbling and Dave and I are watching from the sidelines not sure if we can jump in and save the day or if we are to continue sitting on the bench praying our guts out for these families. In the meantime, as we wait to hear what God is telling us regarding that, I do know what God is speaking to me regarding our family. And that is what I'm going to share.
Dave and I committed to being married FOREVER. Not until it got too hard, not until it got too stressful or not exciting. But forever - till we die. As we have entered each stage of life we have been hit with the struggles and with the blessings. We have fallen, we have gotten back up - and I expect that it will continue much like that for the rest of our lives. We have had times where we are totally on the same page, and other times that it felt like we were writing two different books. However, we come together. We power through it.
I don't understand marriage. My marriage is not perfect by any means, but it's my marriage forever, and I will strive to make it the best marriage it can be.
With all these couples around us being attacked, Dave and I have become re-focused. We realize that we need to make a concentrated effort on connecting with each other as often as possible emotionally, physically, mentally, spiritually. We can not, absolutely can not take each other for granted and the reality that he will be here tomorrow - I need to cherish him and honor him more because of that reality.
In Psalms it talks about how the wife of King Solomon was a "wall" as a young woman. Her brothers said when she was a little girl that if she was a "door" they would stand guard and protect her, but that if she was a "wall" they would adorn her and make her beautiful. Let me explain. A wall in this sense would be a woman who when asked out or pursued by a man would have a "godly rudeness" and is very comfortable with the word "no." No one could get past the wall. But a "door" is a woman who any man who asks her out on a date would be told yes right away and the word no is not a word she speaks often. Of course, when we think about our daughters this way, we want all of our girls to be walls! We want them to be discerning about who they let past the wall of their hearts.
This passage has been on my heart lately in regards to our family. Is our family a wall or a door? Are we guarding our family and those we let in? Are we standing watch at the gate of our marriage to who and what we let have access? Or are we a door - having no boundaries, no safe guards and allowing whoever and whatever to enter in at their own free will?
In the marriage series that Dave and I just went through statistics regarding adultery and pornography were shared. The rates at which adultery is being committed and pornography is being indulged in are alarming! I would like to say that those who say they are Christians are better statistically, but not really if at all. I would like to say, maybe, we aren't safeguarding our marriages.
I want to toot my husband's horn here for a second. Since I have known Dave, whenever there has been a lingerie commercial or an inappropriate scene in a movie, even when we walk by Victoria's Secret in the mall - Dave always looks away. One of the things that I have never even questioned is Dave's loyalty to me, because I know his eyes are on me. Safeguarding our marriages is crucial. Not allowing trash into our marriages, or foxes in our vineyards as Song of Solomon puts it is imperative. Yet, even in our own marriage, we can get so careless about these things.
Our children are looking at our marriages, our examples, as a blueprint for what their family is going to look like. Are we setting an example of purity and sanctity? Are we showing them a family of devotion and love? Or are we showing them secrets and lies, shame and addictions?
I am angered at the attack on marriage that I have seen lately. It angers me that I feel the odds are stacked up against us to succeed. I want to win - I want to grow old and gray with Dave. I want to see our grandchildren TOGETHER and maybe even our great grandchildren TOGETHER. I want to share in holidays TOGETHER and family vacations TOGETHER. I want to spend my life with him - and I am willing to stand at the gate protecting the wall of our marriage to see to it that it happens.
Also, I wonder, shouldn't we stand at the walls of the marriages of those we love? Shouldn't we help to protect our friends' marriages with them? Marriage is hard, shouldn't we work together to make it successful? Encourage girlfriends to work it out, men encouraging men to hang in there through thick and thin. I think we have lost community in this age of shallow "friendships" where we think we know how our friends are doing based on their status updates. We need to plug in, link arms, fight this fight together - for our marriages, for our families.
So, I ask you - is your marriage a wall or a door? Are you protecting it from unwanted intruders and foxes that will ruin the vineyard of your marriage? Do you have friends and family who are standing at the gates of your marriage with you, protecting it and keeping it strong? Are you helping your friends keep their marriages strong?
And, if by chance, you are one of my beloved friends who I have failed by not standing with you to help protect your marriage, I am truly sorry. If you are one of my beloved friends who have decided to just throw in the towel, please reconsider - for your children, for your spouse, for your friends, for yourself. There is too much to lose and nothing to gain, because really - the grass is always greener on the other side until you get there to mess it all up.


Martha A.

I think when I was married about 7 years was the hardest year of my married life.....when i realized that it would be easy to walk away and not look back. It was then when i realized what true love was, it was not the mushy gushy, lovey dovey stuff, it was facing the really hard things together and loving them in spite of it. My husband has a brain disease that affects him mentally and some days it is a real challenge. He is such a wonderful person and I am so happy to be part of the the 20% who stay married in spite of this.....i cannot imagine abandoning him because of that. Marriage is for sure alot of work!!

Donna Wood

Amen! You said it very well. We are in our 33rd year of marriage and are committed for the duration. Anyone who says it's easy is kidding themselves, but with God's help, it can be done. Hang in there guys, it is so worth it!

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