What my parents didn’t teach me about marriage – Part 1

From the beginning of this new blog series, I need to let you know something: 

My parents are amazing. 

Nope…you won’t need to wait for the “other” shoe to drop.  There is no “but” as if I was going to use the blog-osphere to blast Hal and Linda (my parents) and my criticism of their job at raising me and my sister.  

Please don’t take any of the following blogs as a guilt trip to those who have struggled or have made mistakes.  I do not elevate anyone above Christ. But I do obey scripture to “give honor to whom honor is due.” 

But I found myself in a mode a few weeks ago.  I had been doing some pre-marital counseling, received phone calls from other pastors about marriage issues, and had been reading some marriage blogs.   As I read the blogs and thought though my phone calls, I realized something about some of the unhealthy marital situations I was a privy to: 

I didn’t see many of those issues growing up.  

Don’t get me wrong.  Hal and Linda Barringer have their issues.  How do I know that? I have issues and I’m told I have a lot of them (especially my father) in me.  So they are not perfect in the least.  

But…it began with a small list. And with that small list, I want to pour out in a series of blogs the things my parents didn’t teach me.  

First, what didn’t my parents teach me?  They didn’t teach me that the children were priority over the marriage

I knew dad loved mom.  I knew mom loved dad.  I knew that when the nest was empty, what I had seen before me would last because their marriage didn’t stop because of 3 children born.  Even when tragedy hit our home and my younger brother went to be with Jesus, what I saw before me was a strong marriage (not perfect) founded in a faith in One who has the strength, mercy, grace, and peace to get our family through ANYTHING!  They will forever be living testimonies of that. 

Why are so many marriages failing in the mid-years of life? There are numbers of things I could list.  At the top of the list, there are those that put their marriage on hold because of children.  Hal and Linda did not.  They didn’t teach me that.  In fact they taught me the contrary. 

In my years of being at home, not once if I expressed I needed them, did my parents ever fail at stepping up.  We were not spoiled (even though I think my little sister was more spoiled than me…but that’s an older brother speaking).  There wasn’t a single football game that was parentless. Every major event in my life, was always guarded in their prayers, involvement, and wisdom.  I know they have regrets…but who amongst us can’t look back with 20/20 and want to change things to make things better?  

What Rachael and I viewed was strong.  They would hang out with friends.  They served together in ministry.  They prayed together.  They laughed together.  To the chagrin of me and Rach, they kissed and hugged in front of us (which still disturbs me).  

But know this: I, as a child/teen, NEEDED them to place their marriage as priority.  I need to see a father defend his wife.  I needed a parent structure that had a unified front. For my life as child and teen, I need to view two people who stuck together, through the power of Christ, traverse through life-events that have the power to cripple marriages.  I didn’t need a best friend(s).  I needed parents.  School and church provided me with the friendships to fill those needs.  I needed mom to love dad and dad to love mom.  I needed my parents, together,  put their marriage as a priority.  Because of that, I benefited with the structure and example I needed to know what a healthy Christ-centered marriage looks like.  And for that, I am eternally grateful. 

Mom and dad, you didn’t teach me that your marriage was secondary to anybody or anything.  When I think of you, I think of 1 Corinthians 11:1

Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.

That’s what I’ve done.  I’ve followed you.  Like you, I’ve got some regrets with my 20/20 hindsight (hey, we’re human).  But me, Anne, and my children are very grateful that they have you to follow. 

See ya in part 2 of the series.

Thanks for letting me ramble…

Marriage Blog: Is it easy being married to me?

It’s a simple question to ask…But perhaps, it’s the most ignored question in marriage.

“Is it easy being married to me?”

Have you asked yourself that? I try to avoid the question. Why? Because of two reasons:

1. I’d rather shift the focus to my wife so, therefore, she has to be the one to change. That way, she can be the one to blame and I feel better about me.

2. If I answered the question TRUTHFULLY, then I have to be responsible for making changes necessary to be who my wife needs me to be. After all, if anyone needs to change, it’s not me.  My wife needs to change.

At the first sign of marriage issues, self-preservation and human tendency moves us to look for blame in someone else.  We desire to protect what we tend to cherish most: ourselves. This isn’t anything new to humanity. We see this in the beginning in the Eden incident (Genesis 3:12-13).   Instead of taking ownership of mistakes, we shift the focus upon something or somebody to preserve the way of life we want to embrace.

But that’s why the question is soooooo good. It confronts you with a reality that some of the issues that you are facing in your marriage (and/or the issues that will be forthcoming) can stem from a spouse (being you) that is unwilling to take a strong look in the mirror, recognize challenges, and strive for change.

“Why should I have to change?  Why can’t he/she change?  I’ve already sacrificed enough.”

Honestly, is it not easy to being married to you.  You may not think that’s the case.  You’re spouse might be too nice to really tell you.  But it’s time to take a step back and ask the all important question:

“Is it easy to be married to me?” 

I’ve had a running joke over the past 16 years of marriage.  I remind my wife how lucky she is to have married me.  With an odd grin, she always agrees (be it VERY sarcastically) with the statement.  She doesn’t say much more than that.  Why?  Because she knows the underlying reality: it’s not easy to be married to Dave Barringer.  I know she knows it.  Even better, she knows I know it.  But there are times I fail to remember.

I forget she’s married to a man who…

…deals with depression.
…brings his work home.
…is over-dramatic.
…loses all focus when football is on.
…lives with insomnia from a brain that won’t shut off.
…overreacts from stress.
…expects too much from his children because he forgets they’re only 12 and 15.
…wants more physical touch than she’s in the mood for.
…isn’t OCD and doesn’t care much about the cleanliness of the home.
…isn’t wired the way his wife is.
…has to share his focus between her, the family, and an entire congregation.

The list isn’t to create a “boo-hoo” moment for Dave.  It’s just a start of my list I use to remind myself that I am NOT always God’s gift to Anne.  I have more than a few moments that test the sanity of my wife.  There are times I forget what she has to deal with.  And when I do, I project the issue of the day as an “Anne” issue or suppose if there’s any change to be made, it’s definitely her that needs to grow.

I’d venture she’d have her own list to make (as most of you would).  But it boils down to you having the guts to ask the question.

“Is it easy to be married to me?” 

In Psalm 139:12, the Psalmist pens this words:

Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.”

This is this heart we need to live toward God.  The answer will place your feet in a Kingdom lifestyle of humility and personal growth that will lead you “along the path of everlasting life.”  When speaking of our marriage, this is the attitude we need to replicate in our marriage.  And if you do, it will lead your marriage along the path of life that Christ can breath into you both.

And it can begin with asking yourself the simple question:

“Is it easy to be married to me?” 

The answer and your response (humility and teachability) can lead your marriage receiving a brand new breath of life.

 

…thanks for letting me ramble.