“Pride first, then the crash, but humility is precursor to honor.” Proverbs 18:12 (MSG)
When it comes to marriage and marital situations, it’s very hard to shock me (I think people purposely try). Even though I’ll never say, “I’ve heard it all,” from my experiences have just afforded me to see an awful lot of situations and a variety of issues.
But this past week, a couple shocked me.
This two-year-old marriage came in to talk because they recognized something that, if not taken care of, had terrible potential. So before it had a chance to really cause any division or pain, it needed to be exposed and grown though.
They were not on a verge of a breakdown or meltdown. There wasn’t any threats or ultimatums. No raised voices. In fact, they both had smiles. Neither one tossed blame. They each confessed where he/she is contributing to the issue. And after 45 minutes, they walked out smiling and I stood there shocked and monumentally pumped. These two in their young marriage had the simplistic foresight to see where an issue “could” go and were not going to be passive with it. I’m not sure how many times I said it to them that night, but I was so proud of them.
Before you chalk this nice little story up to the age of these two and/or the vintage of their marriage, I think it would be wise to step back for a second. You can read this with a critical heart and judge them thinking, “if there was some resolution in 45 minutes and they left with a smile, then it wasn’t a real issue.” But I would ask you to look back over your marriage and ask yourself, “what if we got help early in the issue before it escalated?” or “what if, earlier in our marriage, we got some periodic help before we thought we needed it?”
Far too often, getting help is seen as a last resort. The idea of talking to someone, and not dealing with things on your own, carries this idea that you and/or your spouse are inept. But this is where humility comes in (Proverbs 18:12). If you both will exercise humility, you are handing God pliable hearts and attitudes that He can shape.
This couple’s small act of humility stirred me. So I sat down and began to make a list of reasons couples should ask for or get help.
To get a “check-up.” Most people wouldn’t think of seeking a counselor or going to a marriage conference unless something was wrong. But what if your marriage changed that thought process? A check-up with a doctor is purely preventative. And to regularly (annually, twice a year) schedule them is to have a proper view of how your body is operating and/or if there needs to be any tweaks to your diet, schedule, vitamins, exercise, etc. If that works for your physical body, why wouldn’t that work for your marriage where the “two have become one”?
When you recognize an area where your marriage needs to grow. Some couples thrive in certain areas but not so much in others. Instead of just settling for “what life has handed you,” get some help to build that area up. There are couples who excel in having fun (leisure) but struggle with conflict resolution. Others have done great working through relationship roles but experience sexual disconnection. Getting help is not an admission of defeat; it’s an admission of your humanity and a breaking of your pride.
To fortify an area of strength. Just because you have an area of strength, doesn’t mean you ignore it. Keep building it up. Every athlete seems to be gifted in a specific area(s) but lacks in others. As much as they work on developing where they are weak, they also fine-tune where they are strong. Strength areas should be ignored; they can be powerful pivot points to build up the others.
When you’re at an “impasse.” An impasse is a situation in which progress doesn’t seem possible. Sometimes a disagreement has grown and you’ve both exhausted yourselves. Instead of letting something fester, seek out some wisdom from a Godly, wise, and impartial party.
I can hear some of your thoughts, “I don’t want to pay for a counselor/conference.” But I submit two thoughts. First, a counselor/conference is cheaper than a divorce lawyer. Yes I know you can schedule time with your pastor. He loves you and he’s there to help advise BUT he is not the same thing as a professional counselor (unless he/she’s got the proper schooling/training). But there’s something about making that financial investment in a bonafide marriage counselor/conference. You tend to value more what you pay for. Sacrifice a few Starbucks and put a few bucks away for the betterment of your marriage.
Second, investing in your marriage in the present, pays long-term dividends in your future. Remember, it’s not about getting help only in crisis. Yes, counseling can help in the immediate, but “present humility” will create long-term stability in your marriage. And the more you pour into it, the more value you bring to it.
I love you all. I believe in you because I believe in Jesus.
Keep Encouraging effort.
Keep Feeding Hope.
Thanks for letting me ramble…
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