lessons in love

Why We CAN Handle Marriage…and SHOULD

(Disclaimer: I am not a marriage expert. I do not claim to be. I do not believe that all marriages are the same or that I can solve everyone’s marital problems. The following are just my thoughts and things I have learned being married.)

Recently, I saw an article being shared on Facebook titled “5 Reasons We Can’t Handle Marriage Anymore”. (I was going to link to it, but decided I did not want to link up to that kind of article. Feel free to Google it, if you would like to read it.)

Honestly, I have never been more mad at someone I don’t know as I was at this author. I saw friends and family sharing it for days before I decided to click on it to read. After I read it, I wanted to call each person that posted or shared it and tell them how angry I was that would share that junk. I couldn’t figure out if the article was serious or sarcastic. The Editor’s Note explains he is 29 years old and divorcing after being married in 2012.

So let me get this straight…A guy, who divorces after just three short years of marriage, is sharing why MY generation can’t handle marriage anymore. He explains why “marriages just don’t work for people of his generation.”

It also notes in the article that he writes a relationship column. Um, really?? A man who was married for only three years…has a relationship column. Are people following his advice? I wonder what the divorce rate is for his viewers.

Anyway, I was pretty mad after reading his article. And it got me thinking. I wanted to share my opinion of his article and reasons why we CAN handle marriage…and why we should!

To me, he has really devalued marriage. He says he has experience to share because he has been divorced. Um, to me, that seems like a reason he DOES NOT have any experience to speak on marriage. Let’s talk to my parents about marriage and how it works. They are celebrating their 40th anniversary next month!! I would rather hear from a long-time married couple about marriage than a guy who marries for three years then divorces.

On Wednesday, I will be celebrating my 10th Anniversary with my husband. TEN YEARS! And I still don’t find myself qualified to speak on marriage. πŸ˜‰ I just know that marriage is WORK and a COMMITMENT, and if you don’t do the work or make the commitment…then no, you can’t handle marriage.

Quickly, here are my 3 reasons we can’t handle marriage:

1. We are IMPATIENT. Our generation has everything at our fingertips and we expect instant gratification. We have a problem in our marriage? We want an instant fix. We don’t want to have to wait and work at it. We want it fixed NOW.

Don’t get me wrong, I am totally included in this. I get upset sometimes when something between my husband and myself isn’t resolved instantaneously. BUT, I have learned (and will continue to learn, I am sure) that things take time. I have flaws, and he has flaws. A great marriage is obtained with PATIENCE.

2. We are SELFISH. We really are. Just look at our society. All these divorces fought out in court for more money. We push others down and out of the way on Black Friday for a stupid deal at the store. We sue anyone and everyone for anything and everything. We’re killing unborn babies because they’re an inconvenience. People are stealing because they think they deserve more. Politicians are making shady deals because it makes them money.

Marriages don’t work when all we see is ourselves. Being married is like being on a team. You cannot win a game in any team sport, if you are only looking out for yourself. Marriage doesn’t work, if your happiness is your only concern. We are told to do what makes us happy by society. But, I completely disagree. For me, doing what strengthens our marriage (even if initially I am not happy…because I am selfish) is key to a good marriage. My husband works hard, so I can stay home with our kids. Do I always want to have dinner on the table for when he walks in the door? No, some days I just want to lie on the couch and watch tv at 6:00, BUT when my tired husband walks in the door…he deserves a warm meal and to be able to relax. I am learning to put him first…and finding that when I do, I am actually happier than when I put ME first. Weird, huh? I am doing the exact opposite of what society is telling women…yet I find I am extremely fulfilled and content and happiest when I put my husband’s desires and concerns first.

Go figure. πŸ™‚

3. We have never had to struggle. Stick with me on this one. Sure, we had a recession a few years ago. Yes, times are hard financially for a lot of us. I agree that most people live paycheck to paycheck these days (well, we do…and it is tough sometimes!). BUT, think back a few decades. Think of the struggles our parents, grandparents, great-grandparents had to deal with…and made it through STILL married. Past generations were sent to war when they didn’t want to go. Others literally had nothing, not a penny to their name. And no charitable organizations or government-funded programs to help them out.Β  (Unlike today, when we say we’re broke…yet we have a home, an iPhone, a car. You get the idea.) Some had illnesses…and there were no medications or treatments for them. There were REAL struggles. Not like today’s struggles – slow internet connection, phone out of range and can’t text or get on Facebook, having to wait a longer-than-expected time for the pizza to be delivered, waiting in line at the clothing store, our appliances not working right and having to wait a day or two for them to be serviced (or buy new ones!). You know…all those things we constantly complain about, as if they are real problems.

Past generations did not have a million restaurants to choose from on busy nights. They just had to go home and MAKE a meal. They did not have a hundred clothing stores down the street. They MADE their clothes or bartered with someone who did. Not all kids were able to go to school. Some had to stay home and WORK on their family’s farm…or were sent to work on someone else’s farm to make money for their family. They didn’t have cell phones to call up their husband/wife/child. They just kissed them goodbye in the morning and prayed they’d see them at the end of the day. They didn’t have a washer and dryer in their home.

I firmly believe all three of those reasons intertwine, and the main reason marriage doesn’t work is just because we’re selfish. It all boils down to that. If we could look past ourselves more often, a LOT more marriages would still be intact. And, of course, I believe that the selfishness creeps in when we leave God out of the equation. Marriage can’t be its best, if God isn’t included.

Now, I wanted to share what I have learned in my short ten years of marriage. Here is WHY we can handle marriage:

1. God has created us for companionship.

Genesis 1:18 tells us that God said “…It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” Clearly, God is a fan of marriage. Verse 24 goes on to explain “…a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” He doesn’t say they are two individuals that should find what makes them happy. It says “one flesh.” Everything is to benefit them as ONE unit.

Selflessness is not easy. Trust me,…I still don’t do it right! It is a lot of work, but the more I practice it, the more natural it becomes. When I seek out my husband’s best interest on a regular basis, it becomes less work and more enjoyable. It becomes the normal thought process, and IT MAKES ME HAPPY TO MAKE HIM HAPPY.

(I understand God has created some with the gift of singleness. I am not denying that. I am just speaking to the fact that for those of us called to marriage…it can work because of the companionship desire God has placed in us.)

2. God has given us the best example of love.

John 3:16 says “For God so loved the world, he gave him one and only son…” If that isn’t the best example of love, I don’t know what could be. I mean, look around you. Look at yourself. Would you give your ONLY son up for mankind. I can answer that with a strong NO. For all the pedophiles, the rapists, the murderers, the liars, the politicians, the thieves, etc.? Would you give your child for them – give your child to DIE an awful death to redeem the nastiest of sinners? (Of course, God sees all sinners the same, but think of how we view certain sins – molestation, rape, murder, etc.)

God has shown love, and NONE OF US deserve it. We cannot do enough good in our lifetime to ever deserve His love. BUT, he gave it, knowing we could never pay him back.

“He paid a debt He did not owe, because we owed a debt we could not pay.” I don’t know about you, but I am never really inclined to pay someone else’s debt. Especially if it was something that required me to give my child for.

We can handle marriage…when we look to the ONLY ONE who knows true love. We can have a marriage full of love, when we follow God’s example of love. He looks out for our best interests, just like we should look out for our spouse’s. He is patient and kind and long-suffering.

Long-suffering….not really a word I would use to describe myself. I am more of a short-suffering kind of person. πŸ˜‰ I am selfish and impatient. And my marriage suffers when I go that route. It only really works when I follow God’s example of love.

3. A marriage committed to God can withstand any technology or social media, any financial struggle, and any imperfections we have.

Marriage would be perfect if it weren’t for humans. πŸ™‚

The article I spoke of talks about social media, financial hardships, our desire for attention, and other things as the reasons we can’t handle marriage. BUT, I can confidently say that my GOD is stronger than all those things. He created the world, for crying out loud. Surely He can handle my struggles and imperfections. πŸ™‚

Maybe it is time we put down the technology and looked at our spouse. Maybe Facebook IS getting in the way of marital bliss. We see other people’s financial gains.

And there will always be someone else who will give us that attention we think our spouse is denying us. We will certainly see that other person’s attention when we take our eyes off our spouse and start looking out for just ourselves.

And, we compare our situations and relationships to everything we see around us. Perhaps we should turn off the electronics and stop looking at other people. I know I should do it more often. Those days when I am griping mentally about what my husband did or didn’t do…is usually the day I see someone gloating on Facebook about their precious spouse. And I get more angry. But, guess what? I have the best spouse for me…and the only reason I can’t see that is because of ME. (see? it all goes back to selfishness)

I hope this post makes sense. I feel like there are so many things out there telling us why marriage isn’t worth it or blaming marital failures on things rather than explaining marriages don’t work when we are in it for ourselves.

Before I end, I wanted to share one statement about WHY WE SHOULD HANDLE MARRIAGE:

Marriage IS worth it. It is one of God’s most awesome blessings. It makes me sad to see people not valuing it. I cannot imagine being happy without my husband. He truly is my best friend. And we learn so much more, each year of our marriage. We have learned, most importantly, that marriage only works when God is the center. Our joy comes from the Lord, so to find joy in our marriage it, too, must come from the Lord.

Alright, off the soapbox. Happy Monday!


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