Friday, September 25, 2009

Compatibility and a little Pre-Marital Advice

Many believe that compatibility will bring martial happiness. Some believe that if you find someone, "the one" then you will of found happiness. Many people search for just that right person to marry that perhaps enjoys the same interests or hobbies with them. Yet unfortunately when problems arise this will not bring much happiness to either parties. "...a good marriage is not something you find, it’s something you work for (Thomas, 2000, 133)." There is a lot of suffering in life and in marriage that will occur. Perhaps compatibility is important but there is much more to the meaning of the word than what sports or activities one is involved in. Marriage is a good amount of work that takes time. So although being compatible is a positive additive it is not what makes of a good marriage. It takes the compatibility of how spouses will respond in bad situations or in suffering. This sense of compatibility will grow a marriage in the right direction to find happiness or at least holiness. Happiness in itself is also what most seek out of marriage. Many couples find that they are happy with each other so they take the next step of marriage. Although happiness is a good quality to find in a relationship it does not necessarily bring up a good marriage. Suffering also tests the happy couple to find true authentic feelings that are in the marriage. "If the purpose of marriage was simply to enjoy an infatuation and make me ‘happy,’ then I’d have to get a ‘new’ marriage every two or three years (Thomas, 2000, 23)." Happiness is not the purpose of marriage just as finding someone who likes all the same interests is not as well. The purpose is glorify God in your marriage which will call each spouse to learn from their own marital relationship.

The compatibilities most important to look for in marriage would have to begin with God firstly. It would be important to share the same faith and any morals that would come from that faith. It would be crucial to learn about what the faith looks like in the other's life. It would be important to know how they see their God and how He would effect their daily life for example what their relationship with God or faith looks like. The second important compatibility to look for would be in regard to how each person thinks or sees marriage. What would their relationship look like in a realistic marital situation. The last crucial recommendation would have to be compatible to a point in how each future spouse looks at suffering. It is so important to know how the other will respond to problems or arguments that will arise. If able to find someone that sees suffering in a helpful and healthy manner, as well as ideally could encourage the other to grow through the suffering this would be ideal. In the best scenario of course this would include Christ and His help and influence to be ever present in the lives of the future married couple. I believe that these characteristics would be super helpful in marriage and something to look for in terms of compatibility. If one or more of these crucial things were missing I would say that sort of incompatibility would truly handicap a relationship to find a kind of suffering that will not be endured well. I believe the compatibility of things such as shared interested, activities, hobbies, sports and more is never a bad thing to find in another person, but is certainly not the key to finding happiness in marriage. The characteristics of who the person really is inside and out truly demonstrates what kind of relationship and marriage the couple will have to live through.

My Mistakes Effect You til Death Due Us Part

It seems as if the source of suffering in marriage truly comes from our own brokenness as a sinful people. Marriage takes two sinners and joins them as one but this can be the beginning or the source of suffering in marriage. All suffering comes from the two parties involved, the wife and husband because each of them sins and makes mistakes. The Fall of mankind is really the source of suffering in the world and marriage is no exception. "At the Fall he became a cowardly, violent protector of nothing more than himself. Intimacy and openness were replaced by hiding and hatred (Thomas, 2000, 94)." The source of all our pains on earth point directly to our unwillingness to surrender to God. When I think about it I can see how all my problems in my life as an individual and in my marriage can be directed right to my need or want to be in control of my own life. This could be me wanting to sin directly or indirectly. I can be very stubborn in my relationship with my husband and at times have chosen to not serve or love him which only has brought one of us to be hurt. I cannot think of too many times where I could honestly say that I was truly trying to serve my husband in a pure way and it left suffering in our lives. It is only in my selfishness and deceitfulness that I hurt others around me including my spouse.

The consequences of sinful people being in broken relationships varies. Through grace and Christ sometimes two broken people can truly be transformed and serve each other not perfectly but there is hope. Some take the suffering and give it the purpose of changing. The two can be moved enough to find God in the suffering and feel called to do something accordingly. Yet all too often most situations of suffering will lead to consequences that will hurt their marriage. "Couples don’t fall out of love so much as they fall out of repentance. Sin, wrong attitudes, and personal failures that are not dealt with slowly erode the relationship, assaulting and eventually erasing the once lofty promises made in the throes of an earlier (and less polluted) passion (Thomas, 2000, 96)." Due to couples not repenting, not dealing or not discussing current problems in their relationship this can and most likely will be the consequence of a sinful people but also an effect of their suffering. These moments or people will result in something definitely not Biblical but rather sinful, which will bring the couple farther from the purpose of their marriage.

There are several different responses that spouse may take when suffering or problems arise in their life. Some will run and look for any way to avoid what suffering has come to them. Others will take everything that is happening and pin it on the other spouse. There are many ways that people react to their suffering in life but because marriage takes two, the way one responds will indeed effect the other. I have already confessed that I usually begin to blame others or my spouse when suffering occurs. I also try to manipulate the situation so that I can begin to fix the problem that is currently in front of me. The problem with all of those responses is that none of them are God honoring or other centered. There is no glimpse of repentance or an offering to God. I try to take all burdens on my own, except now I have my husband's burdens as well, which can only leave me tired and with no better result. This problem that I have of controlling my situations around me and now my marriage’s does not only effect me now, but my husband. It leaves little room for him to take on any of my burdens or care for me. It also does not witness a good servant’s heart which would respond with repentance, gentleness and love. A correct response might be to take my short comings and my suffering and find good in it. "View marriage as an entryway into sanctification–as a relationship that will reveal your sinful behaviors and attitudes and give you the opportunity to address them before the Lord (Thomas, 2000, 97)." Instead of running, fighting, controlling or whatever it is, perhaps I can take my shortcomings or suffering in a season and respond in a way to find sanctification.

My husband's middle name is Grace

Thomas explains that marriage is also like an individual is under camera surveillance. When a married couple took their vows they gave up the right to privacy. From this day forth the couples, including myself will have to live with knowing that there is another going through life with you all hours, everyday (Thomas, 2000, 95). This true sense of accountability can be difficult at times but it also can lead us to the kind of holiness that Thomas speaks of in Sacred Marriage. I know personally that was an interesting realization for me. That from the time I said I do, I would always be with this person, meaning he would be watching what I watched, ate, how I talked about others, and so on. Although this sometimes brings guilt or conviction, it also has brought me to a point of wanting to be better. My husband inspires me to become the better version of myself. He almost never has to tell me what I did wrong or said poorly I just know by knowing him and what I know he is thinking. I know for the most part what he would say and what about a topic, therefore I am able to anticipate when what I said was unforgiving or harsh. He truly represents part of the body of Christ in our home and family unit which in return helps me suffer at times because I cannot just be who I am, but rather I am challenged. Sometimes I am challenged and drag my heels or possibly go kicking and screaming but my husband’s presence ultimately leads me to change. Although suffering is difficult I know that I must take it on because that is truly the only road to take to find true change in my heart. It will not be easy to be in marriage, just as Thomas says, but it can bring me closer to Christ, which is something I long for.

"The ultimate purpose of this book is not to make you love your spouse more--although I think that will happen along the way. It’s to equip you to love your God more and to help you reflect the character of his Son more precisely (Thomas, 2000, 26)." Thomas’s purpose for the book is also the purpose of marriages. Marriages were not created to find more delight but rather to learn how to love correctly. This meaning to learn how to love God and others in a new and revolutionary way or in other words like Christ did. My marriage has unveiled the real me with all my flaws and imperfections which is never fun or easy to encounter. One thing I have found through marriage is that it is difficult to love well on our own. I only can find comfort in the fact that through the Spirit, the Bible and Christ’s example, I can find how to love others including my spouse well. I thought I was really good at loving others and being helpful or other-centered before marriage. Although I am usually good at those honorable characteristics I am human and have a dark sinful nature that brings up selfishness and laziness to make for a poor excuse for a Christ-centered, loving servant. Thank goodness for grace, the grace Christ gave us and the grace my husband so naturally and patiently gives to me regularly. I think my marriage has truly been given to me directly by Christ not to feed off of for my own sake but rather for the purpose of equipping me and my spouse to learn how to be more Christ-like.

God gave us a Mirror for our Wedding present

"What marriage has done for me is hold up a mirror to my sin. It forces me to face myself honestly and consider my character flaws, selfishness and anti-Christian attitudes encouraging me to be sanctified and cleansed and to grow in godliness (Thomas, 2000, 93)." Thomas shows couples that marriage is difficult mostly because it puts a mirror up to the individual. It is almost impossible to be married and not see your own sin. This can become quite difficult for individuals and bring much suffering. Thomas explains how he thought he was a seemingly nice, polite man before marrying and found that it became difficult to be all the time. He found that perhaps this was because he had never been close enough to an individual to see the real him (Thomas, 2000, 93).

I can relate to what Thomas is telling his readers about seeing ourselves in a new light or with a mirror. I had dated my husband for five and half years and thought I knew everything it was to know about him, myself and how we function in our relationship, until I got married. Although those years definitely helped our life, today there was much more hidden away for us to learn about each other. Right before I was to be married I had a huge realization that from now on I would not just be dealing with my sins or burdens but my husband’s as well. This thought frightened me. I kept thinking all these years I have had so much trouble dealing with my own problems how will I be able to truly take on another’s as well. The next time I thought about this again was when I was already married a couple months in, and my husband called me out on something. This was very new for me because during our dating years this hardly happened. He proclaimed to me that I was just yelling at him because I really was frustrated about something else. I was super surprised for the first time to be looking at my own sin in this loving relationship. My first thought was "well alright then." I knew deep down he was right, I did do that, all the time really. It was very natural for me to use him as a punching bag when I felt a sense of uncertainty in my life. I knew after that day that marriage brought me a mirror if not a magnified mirror to show every pore of my sinful being.

What if God designed Marriage to make us Holy more than to make us happy?

Gary Thomas’s book Sacred Marriage explores the main idea of "What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy (Thomas, 2000, 13)?" Thomas looks into the thoughts that although many people go into marriage thinking it will be easier to go through life with another person it turns out to be quite different than what is expected. He shows us the true sense of marriage, in that it involves two people coming together to go through life together, yet both of them are broken individuals. Married couples are reminded that they are sinful people in a broken world each day. All too often couples will run from their own struggles due to their own brokenness or the brokenness of their spouse. Love can quickly turn into hate and resentment which can just as quickly turn into divorce for some (Thomas, 2000, 13-16). All too often spouses expect something from their spouses that only God can give them. Thomas urges us to be careful not to expect too much from marriage. There is only something another sinner can do for us in a fallen world. This is where God fullness enters into our lives and fills us up. Thomas makes it known that each marriage has a purpose and perhaps it is not just to find happiness (Thomas, 2000, 25-26). Thomas believes that the suffering couples that endure during marriage can truly invite spiritual growth individually and in marriage (Thomas, 2000, 26).

I quickly found that when I got married that I too was believing that my husband would fill me up with love. I never thought in our pre-marital time that he would "complete me" or fill me up so I would now be complete. Yet for some reason when I got married I subconsciously was wondering why I was not filled just from my spouse. I would become increasingly disappointed in my husband and felt very unloved. It was an extremely lonely situation, until I realized how my thinking was not Biblical and certainly not me. I knew with all my heart that only one could fill me with complete unconditional love and that was God. I feel as though Christ gave me Justin, my husband, but not to complete me rather to be a helpmate. Somehow, perhaps due to romanticism, I thought he would make my world better or changed, but only one can do that as well. Christ is the only one to save me from suffering, that is simply not my husband’s role.

Sacred Marriage

So I read a book called Sacred Marriage. I read it once while I was engaged and now again after I was married for about a year. I totally recommend this book for people who are married or just those thinking about it for the future. It has taught me soo much! I had to read it again for school and write a paper about it so for the next few blogs I will be taken parts of my paper and putting them into my blog entries. I am spliting them up so that it isn't too overwhelming! Enjoy....