It’s humbling to recognize your selfishness when you thought you were doing something good. I knew I had some selfish tendencies that I needed to guard against. But this one act of selfishness caught me by surprise. In fact, up until two years ago, Janet and I both thought of this story in a completely different way.
Then two years ago I was reading What Did You Expect, by Paul David Tripp. One of my all time favorite marriage books. We were using his material for our Marriage Builders class and I was reviewing our next lesson. Then something he said in the book took me back to one weekend when our marriage was in crisis.
We first heard Dr. Slattery speaking as a co-host on Focus on the Family. So when we were asked to read and write a review for her new book our immediate reaction was, “absolutely, we would be honored.” We felt very confident that whatever she had to say about marriage would be well worth our time of reading and would definitely be something we would recommend to our readers.
It’s easy to love your spouse when your marriage is healthy and going strong. There is a rhythm to how love flows and it seems effortless. It’s like the two of you are dancing in harmony with each step perfectly timed and choreographed. You give and then you receive and then you give some more. You both give love at the same time and in the same way. You both give love at opposite times and in opposite ways. You know without a doubt the two of you are becoming one.
But what if your marriage is not working this way? What if the music has stopped and there is no dance left in your marriage? You’re trying to continue to love your spouse even though you are seriously hurting inside. You believe in marriage. You want to honor the vows you have made. You want to do what is right before God. So you keep trying to love even when the pain of rejection and neglect keeps telling you to stop.
Truthfully, marriage is complex. It takes the complexity of many factors to make a marriage thrive the way God created it to. However, on this post today I want to discuss just one thing that should not be missing from your marriage. Because when it is missing, it makes the journey of marriage very difficult. At least it was for me.
The uncertainty that flooded my mind time after time in my marriage was torment. It reminds me of when I was a boy pulling petals off of flowers over a childhood sweetheart.
“She loves me, she loves me not; she loves me, she loves me not.”
The insecurity of not knowing if my wife would love me one day and then not love me the next was incredibly difficult to live with. It wasn’t that she was always giving me a reason to feel insecure. There was just always something missing in our relationship, something I didn’t know how to describe, but I knew it was missing.
As it turned out, it was the same thing Janet was always missing that made her feel so insecure about our relationship. And neither one of us knew how to fix the problem because we never really understood the problem. We had times when our love for each other seemed strong enough, yet we both lived with the nagging feelings of not knowing how long our love would last.
.The desire for a good marriage is a strong desire for most people. I’m sure, most people who are married or hopes to be married wants their marriage to be good. But how do you know if you have a good marriage if you’re not sure what a good marriage looks like?
Sure, you can look around and compare your marriage to other couples. If their marriage appears good you will want to know if you have what they have.
If you think their marriage is built on great friendship, then maybe that’s what you need to have. They could be good communicators. Maybe that’s your answer. If they are romantic and affectionate with each other, that could be what your marriage needs. Or if they report having a very satisfying sex life you could think that is your answer as well. All of these and so much more are great qualities to have in marriage.
A few weeks ago I wrote a post, How Are You Two Related? where I started talking about how in order to have a good relationship we have to look at how well we relate to each other. Then on our last post, How Do You Relate? As Friends, Partners, Lovers, or All Three? I talked about how there are three major ways for us to relate to our spouse and the three types of love that go along with those ways of relating to each other.
Now on this post, I wanted to dig deeper on the subject of relating to each other as friends. But as I looked back at a previous post I did last year, Becoming Best Friends for Life, I felt there is really not that much I would say differently than I did then. So I thought the best thing to do here is to share an edited excerpt from that post.
Friendship in marriage is really important. It’s that place in marriage where two people are joined together in a way that they not only love each other, they really like each other.
Our spouses are unique in their own way. Individuals who have their own taste buds, their own thoughts, how they view the world through their own lenses, how they feel about circumstances, situations, sadness, pain, their past and the way they were brought up. All of these things are ingredients that have made them who they are today. Not everything they say or do is wrong just because we say it is. We have to learn to accept them just as they are.
When my husband and I first got married, his palate was not as diverse as mine. I grew up eating everything but the appliances. My mom is an awesome cook and so was my grandmother. We were expected to eat whatever was put before us with no grumbling or complaining. No matter who cooked it or what it was.