The words of an old song struck me as I browsed through the store. It’s a song about marriage. Stale marriage. Loveless marriage. The words I’d heard so many times but never listened to saddened me as I thought about couples I’ve known who the song described. A mother and father in separate rooms. They have it all and it all looks well – on the outside. But the silenced anger and hidden scars have made their children hate them. They hate themselves. (That’s the Way I Always Heard It Should Be, Carly Simon, 1971)
It’s a dated song, but not a dated scenario. Some couples exist together and never work on their relationship. Other just dispose of each other. We think the infatuation is suppose to last beyond the wedding, but feelings fluctuate. They can fizzle with the sparklers at the end of the wedding.
Feelings will get you married, but they won’t always keep you married.
Relationships are complicated because they bring together two sets of baggage. For some of us, it would be better if our baggage was lost on our honeymoon, or at least left on the luggage carousel.
Marriage is not an extended honeymoon. Reality bears jobs and finances, children and parenting, trials and hardships. Life is not without those things, why would we think marriage would be?
Did you ever see the Everybody Loves Raymond episode where the suitcase stays at the bottom of the stairs for three weeks because neither is willing to take it upstairs for the other? (“Baggage” 2003) We, like the show depicts, each fight for our own rights, instead of what’s right — remember those vows? We’re fine with the “better” part, but we really don’t want to deal with the “worse” part.
Sadly, many are not willing to wait and do the hard stuff to make it successful and lasting. We want it to be easy and fast, or disposable. But there are no guarantees it would be easier with someone else, especially if we bring the same baggage with us. (wink)
The average wait time to be seated at a restaurant is said to be 23 minutes. Still, If the wait is more than five or ten minutes, my husband would rather go some place else. But realistically, if the wait is going to be around 23 minutes, by the time we drive somewhere else, with another possible wait, we could have been seated at the first place. And we may not like the food as well as at our first choice.
It’s that way with marriage. We may not want the uncomfortable wait it takes for our marriage to be fixed, but by the time we find someone else (who possibly also needs to be fixed), we could have stayed in the first one and had it fixed by now.
Truthfully, the idea of fixing someone is a fallacy, unless it’s ourselves. We all need a little help, wouldn’t you say?
And wouldn’t you agree the restaurants with the longer wait times are the ones with the better food and worth the wait?
Isn’t it better to empty the suitcase before it starts to stink?
Too many marriages today (and relationships in general) are a tug of war, each pulling for their own love and affection, understanding and acceptance. We want our spouse to clean out their suitcase, but we overlook the junk we brought in ours.
Can we see a work in progress in our spouse? Can we see them for who they were meant to be instead of how the world has broken them? Can we be patient while they get their baggage cleaned out? Will we allow them to help us clean out ours?
Neither you nor your spouse is likely a bad person, just a wounded person. We simply cannot expect someone to meet all of our needs and make up for all the hurts of the past. I’ve heard it said, “Let people off the hook for failing to be God.”
Billy Graham said, “Only the supernatural love of God through changed lives can solve the problems we face in our world.” I agree. That includes marriages.
You open your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing. Psalm 145:16 NKJV
He satisfies, because He is love – 1 John 4:7-8
Furthermore, Colossians 1:7 states that in Christ all things hold together. Our marriages will be strengthened and held together when we live by His way, His love.
He created marriage. He can and will help you with yours.
That’s the way I always heard it should be (and time has proven).
I’m praying for our marriages.
In my next blog, I’m going to give you 3 powerful strategies everyone needs to help their marriage (and they work for all relationships), based on my own experience of how I turned my hurting marriage into a happy one. Make sure you sign up to follow my blog so you won’t miss when I post our story and how we made it over 40 years.