Marital Issues That Must Be Conquered
In a Marital Stalemate-Nobody Wins!
By Dr. Lindy S. Diffenbaugh
The Stalemate of Marital Discord Must Be Broken!!!
IN THE BEGINNING MARRIAGE WAS GOD’S IDEA!
God had a very specific plan and design to melt and mold two distinct and unique personalities together so they would blend in such perfect unison, that the two would become One Flesh. By design, these would be so in-tune with one another, that it would be hard to discern where where one stopped and the other began.
God created them this way for a specific purpose. How and why He designed marriage in this way is a mystery. But the Biblical Word clearly reflects that marriage is a prototype; it is an image of Christ and the Church. In fact He admonished the husband in Ephesians 5:25, with this mandate: “Husband’s love your wives as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for Her.”
As the beginning has faded into the distant past, we have shifted our thinking into “ONCE UPON A TIME”! Whether it is a fairy tale or the big screen, we started with such “cartoon role models,” as Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, Frozen, Snow White, and Rapunzel! By the time we were barely old enough to discern the story from reality, there was already an image of marriage that had already been programmed into our minds. “The guy gets the girl and they live happily ever after,” was the image that every girl and every boy believed would one day certainly be their future.
As we got older, skilled novelists and screenwriters picked up the ball and intensified that image on the big screen. Many of us bought into that cleverly woven lie when we were younger, because we really did not want to believe that marriage for us was going to be played out the way it had in the parental relationship, that we watched unfold over the course of our young lives. Somewhere along the way we got the idea that the image on the big screen was waiting for us and we too would live happily ever after.
We Do Not Live Our Lives in a Fairy Tale on the Big Screen
So how do we live our lives in the reality of the day and the moment? Generally speaking, if a a person grows up in a dysfunctional home, without intervention, much prayer, and some education, dysfunction is what they bring into the marriage.
The situation is complicated by the fact that people tend to marry when they are very young; the norm is somewhere between the ages of 18 and 21. Many have just moved through the turbulent teen-years where rebellious rages were quite normal, and where family and parental relationships were either severed or stunted in their growth, due to their irreconcilable differences.
From there they entered into a covenant commitment for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, ‘til death do us part. If they last that long and the heart of the marriage is not molded by Christ, the dysfunction is intensified and perpetuated through generations of untold casualties.
The vow to “Love, Honor, and Obey” is made most often in sincerity, the day that we say I do. The tragedy is, that unless a person has had the good fortune to be raised in an extremely functional home, they have no concept of what that vow is going to cost them.
I have counseled many couples and I have been married myself. From what I have observed and understand, people often marry with a somewhat selfish agenda, usually with very high expectations. The expectations are usually too high for any human to live up to because, after all, they were patterned after a fairy tale.
In fact, nobody told us that Prince Charming came from a bloodline that was seeded with Bi-Polar Disorder, Addictive Tendencies, or that, He was given to gambling, or, in fact, that he might have eyes for the Princess in the palace down the street.
They never warned us that Cinderella was a compulsive spender or that her wicked step-mother’s devious nagging, and manipulating ways had been subconsciously ingrained into her personality, and that they would be played out in her marriage.
The tragedy is that, when we said “I Do” to Prince Charming or the Lovely Princess, we did not see any of that coming! In fact, even if we had seen the signs, we would not have believed that they could be true, because our paradigm thoughts about marriage were fashioned around a “Cinderella Fantasy” that was spun from years and years of Cinderella type movies, and after they grew older, they watched movie after movie that practically ensure that “Happily Ever After” would certainly be waiting for them in their future!
In fact, somewhere in the course of the marriage, one or both partners remembered that they had made those horrible vows, and committed to remain in this “marital prison,” until the the day that we die! Then, somewhere down the line, they woke up and started praying for that death to come sooner than later, at least for our spouse!
It is Time to Plan Our Escape and Count Our Losses
In fact, they come to a place in this unpleasing marriage, where they realize that the World has given us options. With that realization, we begin to count our losses and plan our escape. I don’t have to quote statistics here; we live in a world where divisive, marriage destroying demons, are ripping into marriages with untold force, and in fact no marriage is safe outside of Christ. Marital casualties reach far and wide, all around the world.
So what in Heaven, was God thinking when He came up with this marriage thing anyway? I am not sure; but this I do know: Eternity was in the forefront of His mind. The eternal destiny of the individual and the corporate destiny of the Church universal, both hang on the integrity of the marriage and the righteous fruit of the union.
Just as children do not always listen to the entire message that we have to impart, or on the other hand, they ignore the message entirely, we have somehow missed the point of marriage. It is not necessarily bliss and happiness. It is not absolute security, and it is not the fulfillment of all of our self-centered and realistic needs.
In fact, marriage is more of a 1 Corinthians 13 scenario, i.e. love is patient, kind and loooooong suffering…it bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things. And by the way, most of us fall short of the Glory of God. That does not negate the mandate to love the way that God defines love
It is ironic that we make a vow to part only in death; in reality it is only death that will bring us together. For a relationship to survive our selfish, self-centered, criticizing ways have to die to ourselves.
We have to allow the Holy Spirit to crucify our natural and normal reactions and to establish the righteous standard of the Word in our relationships. We have to put blinders on and allow Him to crucify every false conception of what a relationship should look like.
We have to allow Him to create the image of what He had established in the beginning. It is not about him or her anymore; it is about you and God. In the midst of open and angry encounters between you and your spouse, God is watching. My guess is that He is could be nearly as upset with your spouse’s shortcomings as you are.
God is looking at your heart and your response. Have you minimized your issues and magnified those of your spouse? Do your heart and actions line up with the Word of God and do they honor the Lord? Does your heart cry out, “Against Thee and Thee only have I sinned and done this evil?” Are you asking Him to create in you a clean heart and renew a right Spirit within you? Are you begging Him not to take the Holy Spirit from you because you know full well that He has every right to do so?
Do you love your spouse and for them and the generations that follow, are you laying down your hurt feelings, disappointments, and desires? Or is escape in the forefront of your mind? Are you thinking eternity or do you desire the satisfaction of being right. I once heard it said that, “You can be right, or you can be married!” So, which is more important to you?
Much more could be said about how crucifixion has to be played out in your marriage and other relationships that you value; perhaps these will be covered in a later writing. Let me just close with a story that we all need to take to heart if reconciliation is something that we value.
A minister was working in his home on a Saturday in order to complete his sermon for the next day. His eight-year old son was thrilled to have his father home and was very anxious to gain his time and attention. In an effort to occupy the boy so that he could finish his sermon, he ripped a page out of a magazine and tore it into hundreds of pieces. He told his son to make him proud and go put this puzzle together.
While he thought it would take hours for his son to finish it, the child completed the puzzle in 15-minutes. When asked how he did it, the boy explained to his father that he saw that on one side of the page there was a picture of the globe. The pieces all looked alike and no matter how hard he worked at it he could not make the pieces fit.
On the other side of the page was a picture of a man and they were very distinct. He was able to put them together perfectly. He told his father, “I thought if I could just get the man right then the world would be right and come together as well.”
If you are in the midst of marital conflict and your world seems to be falling apart at the seams, it is not time to look to your spouse to make the changes. It is time to get the man/woman, right. There is hope if both partners labor to partner with the Lord and allow their flesh to be crucified.
If you both seek personal transformation in order to enhance a one flesh partnership, then you will most likely find yourselves joined together before Christ at the foot of the Cross. There is joy in heaven when one sinner repents. I believe when two do it at the same time for the same cause, that there must a euphoric release of life and power from Heaven on your life, and very often, that comes through when you are humble enough to repent.
In an effort to keep this article as brief as possible, you may have felt that I have been insensitive to the crucible of pain that you are going through, or I may have made the process sound too simplistic. Neither of these have been my intention.
If you come to the end of this article finding yourself with more questions than answers and you know that with your own devices you will never find your way out of the marital wreck that you have landed in, I implore you to seek Counsel through the Clergy in your Church, or through a trusted Christian Counselor! May The Tri-une God of Heaven and Earth Be Your #1 Marital Concealer!