My Marriage is Terribly Inconvenient!

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I’ve been married 16 years. I love being married and I can’t imagine life without Anne.  We have had some great times and moments. We laugh a lot together. We have two fantastic children and we are blessed to serve in an amazing church is their pastor.
But I’ll say this is of my marriage:  It can be terribly inconvenient.
If I were really honest I have to tell you that when I got married, I thought marriage would be way more convenient than what it’s been. I thought my needs and wants would be fulfilled on my terms (in the way and timing I want).
I think I came in a marriage with a pretty good understanding of the commitment I was making. I had a great example in my parents. I knew, somewhat, what to expect. I knew what I wanted. Don’t get me wrong, I love my wife.  But after all these years I can say that I know beyond a shadow of a fact:
Marriage can be terribly inconvenient.
When I look at how much I’m supposed to love my wife…(Ephesians 5:25)
When I realize how I am supposed to forgive…(Ephesians 4:32)
When I’m tired and don’t feel like doing what my spouse wants me to do…(Galatians 5:13)
When I want to hold onto bitterness because I’m entitled to it…(Ephesians 4:31-32)
When my spouse wants give time I feel I don’t have…(1 Peter 4:10)
When my spouse’s preferences I’m the complete opposite of my preferences…(Philippians 2:4)
When I can’t have something just because I want it in that moment…(1 Corinthians 10:24)
When my responsibilities are infringing upon my fun/relaxation…(Ezra 10:4)
… I realize once more that marriage can be terribly inconvenient…in light of my selfishness.
This is where so many people trip up. People feel that convenience is required and absolutely necessary for there to be tranquility in the home. But when I look over vows for marriage…
I take you to be my wife/husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part.
If you understand them well, they warn us that there are seasons ahead that are not always going to be conducive to the life that we want or, sometimes, even dreamed. I like what Ecclesiastes 3 says…

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

We have to realize that within the covenant of our marriage, the seasons of life doesn’t lean toward convenience AND, therefore,   convenience is not always necessary nor is it required. Whether it’s what we watch in TV, see in a movie, or read about in a book,  we can be seduced by sugar-coated marital stories that our convenience must always come in the play when it comes to our marriage. We think that everything has to be about “ME.”  \
But sometimes when it comes to marriage covenant, convenience is not necessary.
I think it’s time for husbands and wives to step up and suck it up. It’s time for us to get past the mindset that the world revolves around what’s convenient for me and get into the mindset about what is necessary for the marriage.  As I say often in marriage counseling, “you don’t go for the win for the ME… You go for the win for the WE.”
convenient
I recognize how hard you work. I recognize that some of you are tired. Selfishness is like Nutella…it’s way too easy to indulge in. Your wife/husband was not called to be convenient to your wants. Your marriage should not be built about what’s convenient for you. Again, I look at the way Jesus responded to us. Think about it, in the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus cried out for another way. Why? Because the way he needed to go was not convenient for him. The way of the cross was painful.  The journey was not easy. But because of the joy set before him he endured the cross. He had a covenant of love with his people. And it is through that covenant we need to understand our covenant toward our spouse.
Marriage involves a lot of sacrifice from BOTH husband and wife.  Healthy marriage thrives on mutual servanthood brought together in the love and covering of Christ.  We lay aside ourselves for our spouse. We live out sacrifice together as husbands and wives…
…and sacrifice is never convenient.
It’s time to step aside from the drive of convenience.
it’s time to lay down selfishness.
It’s time to be a marriage where the TWO strive to serve in the ONENESS of marriage.
Thanks for letting me ramble…

 

Marriage Blog: Faking Your Death

I read quite a few blogs and articles on marriage.  I’m always intrigued by titles.  Then one came across my screen…

Groom Poorly Fakes Death to Get Out of Wedding

Clicking on the link will introduce a small story about a poorly approached attempt to circumvent getting out of a wedding.  When I think I’ve heard it all, moments like these happen.

…Then my mind began to wander.  Thoughts began to form.  I then realized how often this happens.

People fake death all the time.  Let me explain…

When we get married, we’re bringing our family, our personal history (good and bad), and our present circumstances together with our spouse along with their family, background, etc.  Part of our getting married is navigating through all of that and learning to come together as a couple.  The other part is learning to die.

You read that right.

Death is a part of marriage.  Now most people think of death as the end of their physical life.  But the moment you take those vows, you are making a covenant with your spouse that his/her needs will be lifted up above your own.  When you put that ring on your finger, you pledged your love and identity to be with no one else but your groom/bride. The wedding is a place of death.  It’s a funeral of self.  Two people die and one is born.

So the question comes: What does it mean to “Fake Your Death”?

It’s when you decide that you’ll give the image of being married.  You’ll wear the ring.  You’ll play the part.  But in reality, you’re living for yourself.  You fake the “image” that your marriage is of the utmost priority. But it’s all about you.  The “death” is a lie. The marriage centers around your own desires without a single thought of your spouse.  As I’ve stated in so many blogs, selfishness is cancerous.  It’s the quickest way to fake one death (death to self) that will, ultimately, lead to another (death of your marriage).

Death to self in marriage, like with a relationship with Christ, is a daily decision.  Over the past 16 years of marriage to Anne has proved to me that every day I have a choice: Am I going to die to self or am I going to fake my death and live for me?  It’s the choice that so many marriages are struggling with.  How do I know that? Because every day I struggle wanted to live for me.  I want to do what I want.  I want my needs met.

This is where I look at the example of Christ.

John 13:3-5 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

In his most vulnerable moment of his life, Jesus laid aside everything.  He knew that there was very little time before he’d be taken away. He was underneath an immense weight of pressure and stress.  He could have made everything about His needs that night.

But he laid aside His outer garments and put on the garments of a servant.  He served he closest friends when He was the one in need. What an amazing example of laying aside “self” in order to bless/serve/honor someone else.  What an amazing precursor to what would be displayed on the cross.

Imagine if we stopped faking “death to self” and we lived without selfishness.
Imagine two people married, decide to completely die to “self” and lived to serve Christ and one another.
Imagine if during our most vulnerable moments, we still decided “it’s not about me.”
Imagine having a marriage where no one waited for the other to step out and serve.  It naturally happens because that’s who you are.

I don’t know who you are or the state of your marriage, but its time to stop faking that you’ve died to the old life of self.  It’s time to lay aside who you were and who you’ve been.  It’s time to cast off selfishness and love your spouse the way Christ loves you.

Today, it’s time for self to die so that your identity with your spouse can live.

Thanks for letting me ramble…

Marriage Blog: The Pre-nup Mind

“It’s mine!”

kids-fighting

It is that familiar phrase yelled by my children.  Every time you hear it, you get annoyed.  The problem is you’re not sure what’s more frustrating: them yelling and screaming or the fact that you remember when you did the same thing.

We were once at the age where we fought with siblings or friends that were invading our space attempting to take something that we felt completely belonged to us.  I can look back and remember my parents responding to the angry rants of me and my sister acting so selfishly.  When you grow up in a mobile home, those fights are hard to keep quiet with such thin walls.

As a parent, we work so hard training our child to learn how to think of others and share what we have.  We want our kids to think of others to respond to the needs of the people in their lives.  At some point, like a snake shedding its skin, we think it is okay to shed what we were raised to do and to live with everything being “mine.” It’s the polar opposite of what we want our children to live. We walk with a sense of entitlement. After all, “it’s mine…I worked hard for it…I earned it…it’s mine.” What we done is we’ve made selfishness acceptable.

What I see in marriages is couples that walk with, what I call, a “pre-nup mind.”

Let me explain.

A “pre-nup” or prenuptial agreement is a contract that a couples agrees to prior to marriage that stipulates who owns what (assets, liabilities) should a divorce occur.  Soon-to-be married couples can outline not only the financial responsibilities of each should there be a divorce, they can also put in writing the expectations of each as far as behavior during the marriage AND what will occur should their expectations not be met.

(Sounds safe doesn’t it? I hate it.  Why? Because a “pre-nup” is a plan for divorce.  It’s getting married with an escape plan.)

Even though couples may have not signed a prenuptial agreement, it doesn’t stop people from walking with a “pre-nup” mindset.

his and hers

“This is MY money.”
“This is MY house.”
“I paid for that.”
“That is MY account.”
“It’s MY business. Why do you care?”
“Don’t worry about it…it’s MY problem?”

When or at what age did selfishness become acceptable?

The “pre-nup mind” creates an atmosphere of selfishness where we lay claim to “stuff.”  We might as well walk around marking our territory.  It can include money (separate accounts for the purpose of MY selfishness), material items (this is YOUR stuff and this is MY stuff), time (this is MY vacation time/day off), emotions/thoughts (I only think/care about ME), and our bodies (it doesn’t matter because I’M not in the mood).  When or at what age did selfishness become acceptable?

There’s a well-known poker term. It’s called “All in.”

All in

To declare “all in” means to bet all of your chips/money on the current hand.  

THIS IS WHAT MARRIAGE IS!!! When I married Anne, I put all of my “chips” in the pot (money, material things, time, thoughts, and affection).  I didn’t keep any “chips” for myself.  Why? Because she’s all in too.   We operate that we because that’s what we see modeled in Christ. 

Philippians 2:5-7 “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.”

Simply said, Christ laid aside what he was entitled to (he is the Son of God) for the sake of serving humanity and giving everything he had WITHOUT holding anything back.  This is how we should approach our marriage; laying aside ourselves for the sake of the one we’ve come together with. 

Living the “pre-nup” mindset does nothing more than fight against the very nature and design of marriage.  It’s like using a wrench as a hammer; you can operate that way for a while but in the end, you’ve never got the effectiveness you could have, you’ve worked harder than you needed to, and you’ve done more damage than necessary. 

Today, lay down your pride…and everything else.  Erase the lines of “mine” and “yours” and take up the mantel of “ours.” Today, maybe for the first time, toss off the “pre-nup” mind and take on the mindset of Jesus. 

Thanks for letting me ramble…