Probably the biggest problem in marriage is spouses who bring nothing into the marriage but love. Margaret Hardisty in her book Marriage Takes More Than Love argues “you’ve got to bring more than just love to your marriage.” You may think you are truly in love but it maybe the hormones playing poker with you. When you wake up in the morning, look at your spouse, and you start wondering who poisoned your drink last night, then you probably aren’t ready for marriage. Marriage is beyond looks and beauty; it’s beyond the hour glass figure and a perfect body. Don’t play into infatuation –it’s a dangerous game, which in the end leaves two severely hurt people, with broken trust and doubtful whether they will ever trust a member of the opposite sex again.
A couple of years back, my lawn looked horrible after the winter – it was all gray and the grass had no form of life in it. In my busy schedule, I had overlooked some much needed lawn maintenance and the weeds had now overgrown the otherwise neat grass. It was just a matter of time and I would lose the yard to the weeds. I couldn’t let that happen. I had spent far too much on my lawn, and I knew what joy it gave me when it was at its best. I was committed to help it revive and I knew it would take time to bring it back to its former beauty, but I was committed to restore its lost glory.
Every evening after work thereon, I would take my garden implements and slowly and meticulously uproot every weed by hand. This took several weeks, as I progressed in my weed elimination battle. It was hard labor but slowly I could see the impact of my labor. After I was done, I applied the right fertilizer, and made sure the sprinklers worked in the right cycle. With that, the lawn had no choice but to spring back to life albeit gradually.
When marriage starts showing signs of “malnutrition,” it is asking for attention. When grace is thrown to the curb and everything you do or see undergoes a trashing from the other spouse, you immediately know something is amiss and the weeds have invaded your marriage. Certain signs in marriage mean something completely different from what you can interpret with your simple observation. A good marriage, like a good lawn requires time and patience. There are times your marriage will be rosy and everything works according to plan. But in other times, the center cannot hold longer and your marriage is threatened with an evacuation and subsequent collapse. At this point, no word of consolation would bring sense to your spouse, as every kind deed is trashed and harsh words become frequent. When this happens, do not uproot the lawn – it’s more work uprooting – rather nature it consistently and don’t be frustrated with the slow progress. Separate the grass from the weeds and take your time and effort to do what you have to do for your marriage to reinstate its faded glory.
Sometimes spouses choose to be the arresting officers, the prosecutors and the judges, and mercilessly convict and condemn our spouses when they wrong us. Without care or feelings, we embarrass them and shame them in public not knowing we are doing disservice to ourselves. Grace has no spot in such an engagement, and as such no grace is exercised when dealing with our spouses – this is a dangerous way to fight a battle – because when that spouse fights back, it will be ugly.
As long as you know you can contribute something to the good of your marriage, don’t give up on it. Remember the love of the earlier years, the giggles and sweet nothings you all shared, cooking anything that came to your minds, movie nights, the late night walks and so on. Remember when she would call and say that her car broke and she needs a ride home. You would not even care that she lived in another city, nor worry about what time of the night it was, or which tornado was on its way. You would instead hop into your vehicle, and like an armored knight, drive through the most dangerous stretches to rescue your beloved. This is what set the spark, if you look deep enough, it’s still there, and if you choose to, you can re-ignite that flame of your marriage. Be humble enough to start again.
Do you imagine how much effort you take to get back something that was taken away from you? For example, when a virus has hijacked your computer making it inoperable? You don’t even wait, you swing into action and take it to the best technician to have it cleaned and restored because you value it. Love may not necessarily be a factor, but the value you have invested in that computer and the belief that it can be restored motivates you to keep trying. If you can put such effort into your marriage, you will be amazed at how quickly you are walking towards and probably need to put in your human heart, and the willingness to let your spouse be better than you are. A willingness to put a foot on your ego and allow your spouse to mount up as an eagle.
Tests don’t have to result in breakages and marital disasters. Don’t be quick to trade your spouse with a new and younger problem free lad or lass. Don’t forget that once your spouse was like that lad or lass –immaculate, loving, caring, beautiful body and all that. Remember every caterpillar was once a butterfly and similarly as familiarity builds, the purring newness changes to a rough crank. Don’t get into marriage with nothing but love. There are times when in marriage love is absent, what will make you stick to your spouse? You have to bring something more than just love to your marriage, something you can hang onto when love wears out.
A good marriage, if indeed there is one, is the one with grace, patience here, attention there, some care here, some love there. This makes the marriage stronger and unbreakable, and the marriage walls closely knit together to withstand the storms of life when they come. Above all, don’t give up on your marriage too soon, unless it is abusive. If this marriage did not work, the next one will not. Statistics indicate 50% of all first marriages fail but divorce rates of the second marriages are estimated to be over 70% – I’m not sure that this is not skewed in one way or another but it does give an idea that you may be better off with your first marriage. Don’t compare your marriage with others – every marriage, no matter how perfect it may appear in the outside, has its own issues and you have no idea what the spouses are hiding. Remember every coin has two side and all your friends would like to show you is the heads, i.e. how good their marriage is – a happy family. Instead work on yours, it could genuinely be better.
When you encounter problems in marriage, don’t start figuring who to call – you are the best solution, and you are best implenter. Remove pride, remove selfishness, remove anger and put on respect. Then sit down both of you and talk. I could go on and on, but this is a good place stop. By the way, have you had a chance to read my book – A Reason to Carry On? It’s not the only answer, but it will help you rebuild, and carry on with life. You can purchase yourself a copy at Amazon.com, Barnes and noble and other leading bookstores. What’s the point? Don’t give up on your marriage too soon.