On the same side
n the early years of marriage when two completely different individuals are getting to know each other and blend their attributes to be one, sometimes it seems like they are on opposite sides and are sabotaging each other, depending on the nurture and personality (nature), it could be a real tough blending process.
Unfortunately, this tough blending breeds the thinking (of course with the devil’s help) that one’s spouse is really the enemy (I’ve seen some prayer points to that effect), instead of both of them being on the same side.
Allow me to suggest that you should change your thinking from hatred for each other to “We are on the same team”. Being on the same team does not mean you become monotonous rather you learn to cultivate each other’s strength while extending grace to the weak points. So, while you might have a wife who yells and is forceful in sharing her opinion, or you have a husband who keeps quiet and gives silent treatment, it does not mean you are not on the same side.
Read 1 Corinthians 12:12-31 – and ask for the grace of recognizing each other’s strength and encouraging areas of weakness
Inevitability of Conflicts
In the same letter to the church in Corinth (1 Corinth. 7: 28b), Apostle Paul suggested being single like him, because married people go through problems. Marriage however, is a good thing and those with healthy marriage, are better in every categories of life, healthy, spirituality, emotional well-being etc. (nothing against being single – ya’ll know I love you).
Conflicts in marriage is a product of blending two different nature and nurture together, it not only takes time, transformation does not happen based on the other human, but only through the individual dying to Self and letting the word of God and the Holy Spirit lead his/her life. It is important for couples to come to the realization that conflicts are inevitable and to start learning how to resolve whatever conflict that comes up, particularly early in marriage. I’ve discovered that many couples simply get used to enduring rather than working to enjoy their marriage union.
Al through the gospels, Jesus taught about conflict resolution methodologies, some direct and some in parables, principles such as trying to resolve it first together then going to a witness, principles such as forgiveness, etc. Apostle Paul wrote about not letting the sun go down while angry, and lots more principles for great Christian living in letters to the churches in Ephesus and Colosse. Learn and set rules for conflict resolution in your marriage (nothing personal, just share what and how it hurts) – attend a marriage conference that might help!
Don’t have to wait for You!
Human sinful nature always default to what is good for self, so in most marriages, husbands and wife do the same thing they look out for self, hence the tag that marriage is a contract, meaning – marriage is 50/50, you do your 50% and I do my 50% and that is not done, either of us can break the contract?
The bible however have a totally different view, although contract and covenant are defined the same in human textbooks, in the bible covenant has a different interpretation, it means – in this commitment, we both give 100% each, and my 100% is not contingent on your 100% (even if you are at 0%), this is where asking God for grace now comes in.
I share with those getting into marriage (who cross my path), that divorce should never be an option on the table (if it is, most would take it), rather every effort should be into understanding the problem and employing tools (spiritual, psychological, etc.) to deal with it, have friends or mentors that would encourage you to hang in their when the chips are really down (particularly emotionally), more importantly have confidence in God’s word (through Paul) in Romans 8: 28.
The more I study my role as a husband, the more I’m convinced that God has called me as a husband to love my wife unconditionally, nothing to do with her, but based on my commitment and obedience to God.
Ours not mine?
Merger is always a painful process, as a corporate person, I went through two painful acquisitions and as a frequent flier I’ve witnessed the crazy computer system merger of two airlines, and the horror it brought to us travelers.
Marriage is also a merger of two individuals with finances, properties, vision etc. coming together as one, it really becomes cumbersome when one or both party have had a long time directing their own affairs and all of a sudden, he/she or she is being told to share! Before marriage we need to have the mentality of Ours and not Mine. One of the subjects of a pre-marriage education or counseling should be how to think Ours and not mine.
This mindset should not just be desirable; it is also the heart of God. Whatever income I make is no longer mine but ours, whatever I owned is no longer mine but ours, unfortunately as with anything in life, one person will be giving up more than another, but that should and does not matter, because the goal is two becoming one. By the way this should affect how we treat the in-laws as well.
Can’t change You!
We are a product of our nature and nurture, in scripture and psychologically both can be modified, temporal change can occur with counseling for nurturing issues, but the Spirit of God which birth a new seed (DNA) does effect permanent change (see the lives of Jacob and Apostles Peter/Paul)both in our nature and nurture.
Unfortunately in marriage, our natural default (sinful nature) only sees the fault of the other person (it takes effort to see the good), and many couples have wasted decades of marriage trying really hard to change their spouse to be more like them, using different human trickery (or efforts) that worsen the relationship.
No human change because another human make them change, we only change when we come to the realization that there is something to change, there is a habit I have that is not only destroying me but my marriage, then I’ll start to look for help to fix that habit. Typically, when a spouse insist on change to hold the marriage, it is only temporal, because it is being done from emotion, not core believe.
The role of the spouse who seeks change is to share the things that hurt him/her (hopefully in love) with the other person, and then pray that God would open the spiritual eyes and ear of that spouse to see/hear. I never realize how my words hurt my wife until God revealed that to me using 5 Love Languages book. So, instead of wasting time trying to enforce change in your spouse in your strength, try a new tactic, PRAY and ask God to reveal to him/her what he/she is doing to hurt the marriage.
I have discovered that not all of us get the entire package of what we desire in marriage. What typically is attractive to us before marriage might not be kosher to God, and we are obedient to Him, we get what He wants and not what we want particularly physically.
I have been part of so many marriages that I’ve seen my share of half acceptance, a sophisticated girl marrying a bush boy, and thinking or complaining after marriage that he is not up to standard? (who’s standard), a poor girl marrying for money but when the money dries up, she packs and leave the desert looking for green pasture. I’ve seen spouses who complain and want to leave the marriage because of body odor, smelly mouth, and ridiculous things like that (that can easily be fixed).
You know, it took me awhile (about 5 years into marriage), to fully accept everything about my wife, today one of our jokes is “I love everything about you” and I mean every word even though I say it in jest, you’ll have to ask her if she’s accepted everything about me? just kidding I know she has and does.
Sex is of God, no kidding!
No kidding, many of us raised in Pentecostal homes and no sex education from our parents, often come to marriage thinking, when we have sex the Holy Spirit or our guardian angel, stays outside the door then come in when we are done, some can’t even have the light on, talk less of talking.
Sex is an amazing gift of a great God to humans, for both procreation and recreation however, it is strictly for the institution of marriage (one man and one woman). Within the bible we have some sex recommendation from people like king Solomon, like letting her breast satisfy you always (no looking outside), and we have great resources by people who love the Lord like Tim and Beverly LaHaye “the Act of Marriage”, Dr. Kevin Lehman “Sex begins in the Kitchen”, and lots of book by the Penners (Clifford and Joyce).
Within your marriage, seek to have a great sexual relationship, just like you seek a great spiritual or financial life. Understand the physiological changes that happen with age, and be ready to adjust. Know your own spouse and never compare with those crazy images you may have (this is why pornography or magazines are bad – they give ungodly images).
See your sex life as holy too, not a sin or something for 2.00am in the morning, when the world is asleep (kind of like a secret thing you do).
Enough for now, go change your thinking on the above and let me know how it has affected your marriage to God’s glory.