I originally wrote this article for another blog, Words of Witness. It was a huge encouragement to the married folk out there, so I thought it was worth re-posting on here:
As I was reading through my Facebook News Feed the other night, I was stopped mid-scroll by an article that someone had posted. The title of the article read: “5 Reasons Why We Can’t Handle Marriage Anymore.” Sadness overwhelmed me.
Intrigued, I clicked on the link and started reading. Now, the content that followed was not exactly the marriage downer I was expecting. The author did communicate a desire for marriage and spoke of it as sacred. He went on to present 5 realistic points that work against our marriages. The points he made were extremely relevant in today’s world. Valid as they were, I instinctively wanted to counter each one of them. My counter list was in no way meant to discourage his article, but more to provide a pro-active list that helps couples out of thinking they can’t handle marriage anymore.
According to the article above, this list is why our present day culture can’t handle marriage:
- Sex becomes almost non-existent.
- Finances cripple us.
- We’re more connected than ever before, but completely disconnected at the same time.
- Our desire for attention outweighs our desire to be loved.
- Social media just invited a few thousand people into bed with you.
Scary, huh? And true. However, as with everything, we have control over what we do with the influences in our lives.
You may be wondering what qualifications I have to counter this list in the first place? Well, experience and my faith. The irony that lines my story is that I am no longer married, but that decision was not mine. If anything the outcome of my marriage gives me a unique perspective. Sometimes sin’s destruction overpowers God’s design. It’s unfortunate when this happens, but the beauty in this is God’s model for marriage does not waver. Whether you are married or unmarried, I hope my perspective encourages you.
So here goes. My pro-active list of how to counter marriage hiccups. First point, sex. Of course. Our world exudes all things sexual. Sex within marriage is one of God’s most beautiful gifts to us. Being open to and creating a family is absolutely unreal. Parenthood is a true glimpse into God’s love for us as His children. Sadly, the way sex has been distorted is nothing short of depressing. With the abundance of distortion must come the reminders of God’s way. Don’t let the 50 Shades of Victoria’s Secret get in your head. Fill your marriage with Truth about sex. When you’re married, does God want you having it? Absolutely. Is self-control and abstinence still a factor? At times. Should it ever become almost non-existent? Very rarely. In knowing these truths at hand, decide against the sexless marriage. Pray that God will bless and preserve the intimacy in your marriage. In vulnerability, there is always risk, but who better to risk with than the spouse God entrusted you with.
Second point, money. Our cushy Southern California life puts so much pressure on this. There is no denying that finances can be stressful. However, making the choice to spend within and below your means allows for less of those negative numbers in the old bank account. Dave Ramsey, a well-known financial author, says in every marriage there is a saver and a spender. Know who is who and decide on necessary boundaries. Know your limits, practice self-control, and be a wise steward with what has been given to you. Rich are the marriages that give generously and spend wisely.
Third point, overly, under-connected. The article states that “we’ve removed human emotion from our relationships, and we’ve replaced it with colorful bubbles.” Put your damn phone down. One of my favorite articles on the topic of technology and marriage is, “How Technology Threatens Marriage” The article parallels how communication has changed in the past 30 years.
“It’s 1975 and Mr. Company Manager needs to talk to Ms. Sales Manager about an account. It’s after hours, so he picks up the phone and calls her at home. Her husband answers. The two chat for a bit about the latest Maple Leafs’ loss, and then husband passes the phone to wife.
Now it’s 2013, … Mr. Company Manager texts Ms. Sales Manager about the account. They banter back and forth, in texts that grow increasingly personal. He never actually talks to Ms. Sales Manager’s husband, and thus often forgets the man exists.
That family phone at one point acted as a gatekeeper. You couldn’t just call a married individual of the opposite sex without also talking to that person’s spouse or kids. You were constantly reminded that the person was part of a larger unit. You had no real way to pursue a more personal relationship unless you did so deliberately. Today often innocent texts can turn into something more.
Or take Facebook. According to the Loyola University Health System, it’s implicated in 20% of U.S. divorces. You can flirt with someone while sitting next to your spouse! He’s watching football; she’s messaging Johnny.”
I beg of you, to be careful with this one. Do co-workers of the opposite sex really need your cell phone #? Is there a time frame for when cell phones are turned off in your house? Are cell phones at the dinner table? This may sound extreme, but actively protecting your marriage from the worst case scenario is a lot less painful than divorce, believe me.
The final two points go hand in hand. First, attention trumps love. And then, attention trumps real life. Check your motives for all things social media. Has Facebook turned into Bragbook? Are you too interested in the pose or place to actually engage in a conversation or moment with your spouse? Do you thrive off of other’s approval so deeply that a good old fashioned compliment from your spouse is second best? Keep this dimension of your life at a safe spot. The attention from your Facebook friends should not build you up more than encouragement from your spouse. I am not saying that affirmation from people other than your spouse is bad, in fact, it’s wonderful and necessary. Simply be careful of it’s place in the trophy case. Social media opens outlets of attention and communication that are not always appropriate. Be mindful of this and protect your marriage from your ego.
So, there’s my how to win in marriage list, comprised from an article of blaring cultural norms. Frightening as this article’s points may seem, our God has stood and will stand stronger than anything that challenges His design for marriage. God cares a great deal about thriving marriages and will help you through any of the roadblocks thrown your way. If two souls are first committed to the Lord, then to His design for marriage in all its entirety, and lastly to serving one another sacrificially, even the world’s craziest notions won’t bring you down.
Image by Mark Brooke Photography