Friday, January 16, 2015

A Healthy Marriage

Of all the things I know, the one I am most certain of is that I know very little.  An old cliché is that teenagers think they know everything and what the are most certain of is that their parents know very little.  But then, as the years rolls on, they discover how little they know and how much they want their parents advice.  The unstated assumption in this cliché is that from our matured adult perspective we recognize how little we knew as children.....but how much we know now. 

This is completely wrong.

When I was young I assumed that all adults had it together.  Life made sense for them, they had all the answers, and they were "grown up".  Today I realize that adults have the same blinders and make the same mistakes that they did as children, we just do it with more wrinkles and facial hair.  Buying into the mistaken perspective that where you are right now means that you have finally "arrived" turns off our brains, negatively impacts our empathy, and shrinks us into self-assured navel gazers. 

The belief in our own "completed" knowledge base is the fertile soil for becoming a self-centered person.  We mistakenly believe that what we believe to be true about ourselves and others is completely true.  And when someone does not live up to the static perspective we have adopted, we find ourselves in conflict. 

You see, knowledge without humility is the impetus to disconnecting our hearts from the human frailty of relationship.  When we become self-assured in our own perspective of "rightness" another person's inability, or, struggle, to meet our standard develops resentment and frustration. 

No where does this become more apparent than within the context of our marriages.  And the world has lied to us about what a marriage is, and so we are set up to fail from the start. 

The primary, and most destructive, lie about marriage is the story about "romantic" love.  You meet the "one", they give you butterflies, you can't stand the thought of spending even one minute apart.  And based on this, marriage is the end game.  When we are told that marriage is about love, what they mean is "romantic love". 

But here is the thing about romantic love.  Experiencing romantic love is a reflection of YOUR sensibilities.  It is based upon your current preferences and standards.  And these things are ever changing.  Not to mention that what is sweet and charming about someone who you see once every few days loses that allure when you see them EVERYYYYYY day. 

Romantic love, when you boil it down, is about what is being done for you.  There is a static standard you have created for yourself that you expect to be met.  While you may recognize that a child has to grow up and change and mature, we believe that we have arrived at whatever intellectual and emotional maturity destination that being an adult encompasses.  So therefore, we are done growing, and that other person better make the effort to meet us where we are at. 

In Ephesians 4:2, we are encouraged to, "Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love". 

Let me break that down.  The final word, "love", is the Greek word, "agape".  Which IS NOT romantic.  It is a giving love.  A God centered love that seeks the good for others first to the point of being sacrificial.  And this word is the foundation, what the other actions are rooted in, for the rest of the verse. 

So you SACRIFICIALLY are to be HUMBLE and gentle and patient.  While this passage is written to the general Christian population, it is a foundational truth that God calls us all to as the blueprint to guide our relationships. 

To sacrificially act in humility to your spouse means to;

1- Put them first, EVEN as it costs you something

2- Have an attitude of teachability that never wanes, no matter how much you have grown.  Because humility is a willingness to say, "I still have a lot to learn"

Every day we must come to our spouse with a humble heart that says, "I have so much more to learn about you, what I know today is going to be laughably small in comparison to what I shall know by tomorrow." 

Just like we realized that we just didn't know what we thought we knew when we were teenagers, a healthy marriage is found when two people have the self-awareness to say that they can never think they have arrived.

If you want a healthy marriage, start accepting that you know very little.  Become a student of your spouse.  Be empathetic to their short comings and mistakes, because you need them to be the same for you.  And we need to HUMBLY accept our own limitations as we extend that grace to our spouse. 

I just know you were more likely to read this because of his picture.....

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