As I mentioned in yesterday’s marriage post, my 30th wedding anniversary is coming up in just a few days, so my mind has been on not just my own marriage, but marriage, in general. I’ve been thinking about vows, and commitment, and the things that cement a relationship together, rather than tear it apart (hence, that post). I heard from a friend of mine after she read it, and she said something that I believe is a huge component in that cement.
Consider, for a moment, natural disasters. They displace hundreds, if not thousands, of people, ruin everything they have, and present what appears to be a hopeless situation from which to move on. Historically, some have found people holed up and waiting for promised outside help. As they waited, many turned on each other and, just when they didn’t think it possible, their situation grew even more hopeless. Once they finally got their help (or some tiny part of what was promised), there were many who left.
There have been other disasters where the same numbers of people experienced the same devastation, however, instead of depending on outside help, they looked at each other with shared determination and got to work. They sorted through the remains of their lives as they had known them before the onslaught of the disaster, and weighed, together, what was worth taking forward, and what needed to be left behind. They labored and struggled and grew together in the process.
Some left, yes. But many, many stayed. They rebuilt on a stronger foundation made from the cement of shared hardship.
My friend said this:
Couples just don’t struggle together any more…Kids these days go to their parents when things are tough and then their parents bail them out and they never go through that bonding with their mate.
And you know what? She’s right. There seems to be an expectation of outside help, now, that wasn’t there in years past. When disaster strikes a marriage, and that marriage is bailed out by a third party (even when the third party has the best intentions), there is a bag of Quikrete that remains unopened in the garage. Our marriages need the experience of both parties facing a problem together and solving it…surviving it. They need to see “two are better than one” in action, so confidence in the union is solidified for the next challenge, which might just be a Category 5 instead of a bad tropical storm.
Even though none of us ever wishes for hardship or disaster, we know it’s coming. That’s why it is included in the vows.
For better, or for worse.
And, thankfully, when you push through it together, that “worse” can provide a sound foundation for a beautiful “better.”
“It’s better to have a partner than go it alone. Share the work, share the wealth. And if one falls down, the other helps, but if there’s no one to help, tough! Two in a bed warm each other. Alone, you shiver all night. By yourself you’re unprotected. With a friend you can face the worst.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 MSG
“Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.” James 1:2-4 MSG
Another great post on marriage. Very wise words! You would have made a good marriage counselor. Tough love is hard and I’ve never been good at it. I always want to step in and make everything ok. I’ve made a little progress in my old age but not much. 🙂