In the first post on age, we dealt with the fact that young and old alike struggle with issues of age. We talked about a sort of age related dementia that goes along with youth, adulthood, and old age, and we gave you some things to remember and do that will help with these dilemmas of age. (If you missed that post, click here and catch up before you read further.)
In 1 Samuel chapter 7, we compared the nation of Israel to little children who get distracted and wander away from their parents. But sometimes, God’s children are more like willful teenagers, opposing what God wants and willfully choosing a different direction.
This is what you see in 1 Samuel chapter 8. Israel decides that they want to be like everyone around them, rather than look like their parent (God.) They want God there when they need help, but they still want to do their own thing. And even after they are warned about the difficulties and dangers their choices will produce, they still want what they want. And they are willing to enter back into a slavery of sorts to get what they want.
The truth is, we are more like the Children of Israel than we want to admit. How often we disregard what God wants in favor of what we want. How often we turn our back on His provision and find ourselves in slavery to what we thought we wanted/needed.
And like a good parent, God will hang back and watch us make poor choices. He will allow us to willfully turn away from Him, while all, the time waiting for us to realize the slavery and mess we’ve chosen. Then, when we cry out to Him, He will step in to help us walk out of our mess.
God wants children who will stay close and dependent to Him, not teenagers who will willfully break away from Him. The question is…which are you?
I have done a lot of premarital counseling, and I’ve found it to be both enjoyable and frustrating. Enjoyable, because you get the opportunity to walk with a couple and to speak into their present and future lives. Frustrating, because many of these couples have no frame of reference for what you’re telling them…and they’re often too “in love” to hear it anyway.
Engaged couples mean well and they want to have the best marriage possible. It’s just that the excitement of becoming Mr. and Mrs. makes it hard from them to really imagine the feelings and frustrations they will face down the road. The light in their fiancé’s eyes blinds them to the issues that are there. The blood that rushes to their head (and other places) keeps them from hearing things they need to hear.
Remember when you first realized that marriage wasn’t what you thought it would be? Maybe it was the first time you realized those quirky parts of your spouse’s personality weren’t going to change like you thought/hoped they would. Perhaps it was when you discovered that their approach to money felt less like pulling together and more like tug-of-war. Maybe it was when you realized the sexual tension and excitement you felt during the honeymoon phase had morphed into a dull predictability that was just a notch above doing the laundry.
We’ve all encountered things in marriage and found ourselves thinking, “I wish someone had told me about this.” So I’ve thought about it, and here are some things I would tell my newly married self:
- You don’t need to be right all the time…even if you think you are.
- Dirty clothes go in the hamper, not on the floor beside the hamper.
- Just because they say they’re fine, doesn’t mean they are.
- “I wish we were closer” probably means something different to them than it does for you.
- When they say, “There’s nothing in this house to eat,” it doesn’t they want to go get groceries.
- They can criticize their parents. You cannot!
- People’s standards for cleanliness vary greatly.
- Just because their personality is different from yours doesn’t mean they are brain damaged.
- Your sex life will occasionally ebb and flow, but it will always take work.
- If you don’t look at them, you’re not really listening to them.
- It’s ok to disagree on how to raise children. They will grow up anyway.
- Compromise is not surrender.
- It won’t hurt you to watch what they like to watch. (I’m still learning this one.)
- The more you’re willing to release, the more you’re able to receive.
- When you say, “Where do you want to eat,” and they say, “Anywhere’s fine,” DON’T BELIEVE IT!
These are just a few of the things I would tell my newly married self. I’ll bet you could add to the list. What would you tell your newly married self? Leave your ideas in the comments and let’s see how many of these we can collect…for all those people who don’t know what they’re getting into!
As a kid, I was usually the last one picked for the team. This was true for basketball, football, baseball…basically anything with a ball. I had no coordination or talent when it came to sports. So when kids were choosing teams, I was usually avoided till I was the last on left. It was hurtful.
Perhaps this is why it’s hard for people to think about God choosing the Israelites to be His special people. It seems biased, politically incorrect, and hurtful to those not chosen.
In my last post (How Partnering Can Improve Parenting,) we looked at how improving your marriage could improve your parenting. It stressed the importance of making sure your partnering takes precedence over your parenting. (If you’ve not read that post, I encourage you to go back and read it.)
Now, we need to answer how parenting can improve partnering, and the answer is simply this…
“Your parenting should instruct your partnering.”
Yes, your partnering should take priority over your parenting, but your parenting can teach you to be a better partner. Here’s what I mean by this. If you listed the things you do for your kids, your list would look something like this…
We don’t often think of how parenting can improve partnering. Usually, we think of just the opposite…how parenting makes partnering harder. We instantly think of all the demands parenting makes on our time, money, energy, and resources, and how those demands complicate marriage.
It’s true that being a parent can make being a partner more difficult. This is why I always tell spouses, “You’re partnering should take precedent over your parenting.” I firmly believe this to be true for every marriage…
- Young spouses as well as senior adults spouses.
- Spouses who have biological children as well as those who have step children or adopted children.
- Those who have just one child as well as those who have twelve.
No matter the situation, the principle is the same. You’re partnering should take precedence over your parenting, because:
Gravity is an essential part of life. Without it, things would drift away into space. Likewise, gravity is an essential part of marriage. Without marital gravity, spouses begin to drift apart. And if they drift too far apart, it can bring an end to the marriage.
In my last post, I talked about four things you needed to increase your marital gravity. They were four things that would help draw you closer to one another and keep you from drifting apart. (Check out my last post, “Is Your Marriage Approaching Zero Gravity – Part 1.”)
The other day, I was cleaning out some files and came across a poem, written by a divorced mom on behalf of her two children. The poem had no title, so I’ve given it the title: “My Daddy Doesn’t Live Here.” It’s heartbreaking to read, but it’s a good reminder of how divorce affects kids.
But many of the people who come to my office thinking about divorce can’t find a reason to root for the team. They can’t find a reason to stay together.
It’s difficult to find a reason to stay married when your feeling the accumulation of hurt, neglect, anger, betrayal, and general ill will. But I encourage couples to look hard to find a reason to stay together.