Ron and I are going to a ten-week class on marriage. It is designed to improve our marriage. Some of the people attending are having huge struggles right now. Some are happily married (what is that?) and have been for years. Others fall somewhere along the way on that continuum. Today I told someone about this class we were attending. She thought we were leading it. “No.” I said. “We’re attending.”
She was quite surprised. She said, “You’ve been married almost 50 years. (42, but who’s counting:) I thought you had it down by now.” I realized that when I was younger, I thought that people who had been married a long time “had it down” too. I guess from this end of a long marriage I have a different perspective. Here are some important points.
Marriage is a relationship. Please stay with me. Don’t go all “duh” on me and walk away! Of course, we know it is a relationship, but we don’t think about the ramifications of that…over the long haul. Two people in a relationship change over 40+ years…or even five! Believe me, I can tell you that! This is why we need God’s wisdom when looking for a spouse! If we aren’t growing in parallel directions, our relationship will have HUGE problems! HUGE! But on a daily and weekly basis the little changes are taking place. That’s when we need to keep up with each other and the worlds we are each living in or we will look up one day and find ourselves poles apart from each other and not even sure how we got that way!
For us, the last three years have been full of “No’s” and “Good-byes”. I’m not telling you that for sympathy. I’m letting you in on what reality looks like from my perspective and that of many people our age. (Between the two of us, we cover almost a decade.) Do you wonder why some elderly people are crotchety? They may be up to their eyeballs in “Good-byes”! The reality that a certain lifestyle will no longer be happening: whether it is a healthy one, a married one (widowhood), an active one (because of their or spouse’s health), a more impoverished one, a respected one…I think you get the idea. (I’m not excusing crotchetiness! Just giving you a perspective.) So because we as individuals, as well as our circumstances, are constantly changing we need to regularly maintain the relationship that is our marriage.
RELATIONSHIPS ARE NOT STATIC
Because marriage is a relationship, it is not static. I hate to break this news to you
but you will never “get it down” because this relationship is not static! It is constantly changing! Just as the world around you is changing, so are each of you. Are your changes moving you closer to each other or further apart? You will need to have a marriage that can hold up to change. When you think about it, a long marriage goes through a LOT of change…for those of us who have moved often, there is even more change…or at least it is easier to see. I don’t like ruts, but there are times when I would have liked a rut for a couple of years!
THE ONE CONSTANT IS CHANGE…
For us, here are some of the stages we went through: newlywed, wanting a baby (incl. miscarriage + stillbirth-approx. 2 yrs.), moving to Jamaica, having babies, adjusting to life back in the US, having school age children/ pastorate Miami, FL, the teen years/ pastorate Miami, FL, moving to TX/pastorate, children finishing high school/ to college/ pastorate, empty nest, season of illness, husband’s retirement #1, move to IL for interim and pastorate, husband’s retirement #2, move back to home in TX, finding out where we fit….
THE ETERNAL CONSTANT IS CHRIST!
When you toss in between all that some health challenges, job disappointments, periods of time out of work and discouragement along the way, you can see that there have been enough challenges along the way for us to have easily turned on each other. Fortunately, God used hard times in our lives to bring us closer together…a great grace! But more important than that, we HAD to turn to Him for help, comfort, encouragement, provision, and the resources needed to continue to trust being faithful to Him.
So what are we learning in the class? I guess I’ll have to save that for another post. This one has gotten WAY too long. I’ll give you a tidbit from week 1: A marriage of unity, understanding, and love is not rooted in romance, but in worship. **
Now there is something to chew on! Rather than pull out your hair and run screaming from the room, stop and think about who/what you worship as well as the fights/arguments you have with your spouse. That’s all for now. Happy mulling!
**from the book What Did You Expect? by Paul David Tripp and the video by the same name.