"The Lord God said, "It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him."" (Genesis 2:18 NIV)
Women are fashioned for relationship, aren’t we? From our first few nursery friends all the way until our red hat society outings, we are formed for connection with others. One of the primary ways we experience relationship is through marriage. And it turns out, marriage is far more challenging than we expected.
On the blog this month, we’re discussing marriage: specifically how to handle the relationship when we hit rough waters. Our response in crisis is critical because our marital health affects our spiritual health, and vice versa. We need to tend to both entities with great care.
Marriage is a living organism that requires a lot of attention. It typically starts out wonderful, but at some point we realize it’s labor intensive to communicate and appreciate and stay connected with our spouse. Have you noticed how both parties have to remain committed to that effort or things start to fall apart?
One of my favorite movies from my childhood is the Swiss Family Robinson. It’s an old school Disney movie that definitely warrants an ‘outdated cultural depiction’ label, but for me, it’s a classic.
In the very beginning of the film, a Swiss family has decided to leave high society for a new life in New Guinea. Somewhere along their journey, they are chased by pirates into a terrible storm. In the height of the gale, the father prays that God would spare them.
The family awakens the next morning to find themselves alone in the remains of the boat washed against the rocks. The captain and crew have not survived. The family remains intact, but in danger. The crashing waves and unforgiving stones are proving to be a destructive combination. The Robinsons have to make a plan and that plan would have to include everyone’s effort if they are to survive.
Marriage is like this. Sometimes we get chased by pirates. We, too, may flee from the bad guys into the darkest, deepest storms, praying to God for safekeeping. We might also wake up and find that our once strong marriage is now on the rocks. The waves keep coming, the sharp edges continue to batter storm-weary shipmates. We, also, face a choice: make a plan and work together or face certain destruction on our own.
Have you been there? Where your marriage which once provided joy and companionship and strength and refuge has suddenly become a source of deep and frightening pain? Where you feel exhausted from the pirates and the storms of life and maybe even betrayed and battered by the words and actions of the one who pledged to love you most?
Every marriage has been there.
If you haven’t, you haven’t been married long enough.
See, we usually enter marriage under enchantment. Two people fall in love. We make a lifetime commitment to each other. The skies are blue. The sea is calm. It’s smooth sailing for as far as we can see.
Until the pirates come.
The sea of life has all kinds of pirates. Pirates can be debt collectors or inlaws or bosses or any number of circumstances that can effectively chase us into storms. We don’t even have to encounter pirates for the weather to change. Suddenly that beautiful, tropical marriage Utopia that we had anticipated has become a raging sea of emotions and trouble and backbreaking water-bailing to just keep from capsizing.
We can and will move into disenchantment; where we start to see some flaws in Romeo, or we realize that we aren’t fair Juliet apart from our daily beauty routine. And if we allow our marriages to crash against the rocks for too long, we might never grow into the marriage God intends for us; into maturity.
Friends, we will all have stretches of smooth sailing, dark & rainy seasons of epic storms, and crushing days where we are washing up against an unforgiving shore.
How do we rescue our marriage from total destruction? How do we move past the pounding waves of disenchantment into maturity? How do we navigate the dangerous waters of conflict, disconnection and even disinterest?
We begin to salvage our marriage when we recognize we need divine help. As Mr. Robinson called on God to spare his family, we make our requests known. God is deeply concerned with our union. He longs to see our family succeed. Just as He rescued the Robinson family, He is able to redeem our story, too.
In fact, Revelation has specific instructions for restoring our union. Next week we’re going to wade into the choppy waters together. Until then, take the time to cry out to God on behalf of your marriage. Invite Him into your downpour or pirate chase. Ask Him to send the strategy and resources your marriage requires to survive this season.
“In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From His temple He heard my voice; my cry came before Him, into His ears.” (Psalm 18:6 NIV)
“He reached down from on high and took hold of me; He drew me out of deep waters.” (Psalm 18:16 NIV)
Lord, sometimes we feel like our marriage is not the blissful union we anticipated. The marauders and squalls and treacherous outcroppings of life have proven far more challenging than we anticipated. We require Your assistance if we are to stay the course. Help us, Lord, because we cannot salvage the ship or crew on our own. Give us a strategy and resources to rescue our marriage from the rocks. Redeem our relationship in a way that brings You glory. Amen.
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