Friday, 16 July 2010

Don't Rock the Boat

Did you ever wonder about the derivation of phrases that you have heard ever since you were small? Who was the first person to say it and under what circumstances? I just assumed the phrase “don’t rock the boat” originated with someone like me who was dumb enough to get into a small boat knowing full well that they had a dread fear of the water. Perhaps so, but the meaning of the expression has evolved into “do not upset people by trying to change a situation.”

I would say that if you would describe your marriage as a luxury yacht, stay the course and keep doing what you are doing. If you would describe your marriage as a dinghy taking on water then I would suggest you rock the boat!

There is another idiom that says that the definition of crazy is “doing the same thing the same way but expecting to get different results.” It may even be crazier to accept a mediocre, dissatisfying, unfulfilling marriage without consulting the manual written by the creator of marriage – yes that would be the Bible. Now I’m not talking having to read all 66 books, though that wouldn’t hurt, I’m talking about reading 14 verses. Ephesians 5:21-33 and 1Peter 3:7 would be the equivalent of the Bible Cliff Notes on marriage.

Here’s the tough part – do what it says! Husbands love your wives as you love yourself. “That’s impossible” you say, “I can’t love anyone more than I love myself.” That’s the point. Get over yourself; it will be worth the effort I promise you. “But you don’t know my wife; she makes the taming of the shrew look like a Disney movie.” There are many translations of the Bible, some are thought to be more accurate than others, but none of them say, “if your wife treats you as you would like to be treated then love her as you love yourself.”

Wives you are called to respect your husband. Why? Because God wired your husband such that respect is highly important to him. Secondly because God knew that it would be difficult for you to do so. It goes back to the Garden but that’s another story for another day. You say, “he is not worthy of respect, etc., etc.” God’s command is not conditional upon your husband’s performance.

So if your marriage doesn’t glorify God – rock that boat and change your situation.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Can Your Marriage Be As Contagious As Your Divorce

Stephanie Chen, a CNN news correspondent wrote an article entitled “Could you be effected by a friend’s divorce?” In a study conducted by James H. Fowler, a professor of political science at the University of California, San Diego he concludes that “Divorce is contagious in social networks. The idea is based on the theory of social contagion, or the spread of behavior or emotion through a group. In this case, the heated feelings and actions of one person's divorce can be transferred like a virus, causing others to divorce, according to the study.”

Fowler's research on divorce contagion revealed some shocking data. People with a divorced sibling are 22 percent more likely to get divorced than people who don't have divorced siblings. Friends have even more influence than siblings when it comes to divorce, according to Fowler's study. People who had a divorced friend were 147 percent more likely to be divorced than people whose friends' marriages were intact, the study said. The study also revealed a divorced co-worker can increase the likelihood of another employee divorcing by 55 percent compared to an employee who works with non-divorced employees.

My reaction to this article was “couldn’t God glorifying marriages be just as contagious as divorce?” As Christians it is appalling that our divorce rate mirrors the secular population. IF God is at the center of our marriages shouldn’t there be a huge difference in how we treat one another and how we handle conflict.

For the moment let’s assume that Fowler’s research is correct then wouldn’t it be great if as Christian couples we had a virus that we could spread. Wouldn’t it be great if we rededicated ourselves to love one another as expressed in Ephesians 5:21-33. Wouldn’t it be great if true transformation took place and that our love for one another radiated in such a way that those who know us would want the type of marriage that we have.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Marital Satisfaction - Do I Have It?

On my way to discover possible quantifiable, semi-objective measures of what constitutes a successful marriage I ran across the CHARISMA research, an attempt to define marital satisfaction. Their findings concluded that marital satisfaction is a subjective condition which is dependent upon the degree to which the individual perceives their needs, expectations, and desires are being met in their marriage. The article goes on to say that marital satisfaction is not a quality of the relationship.

“Exactamundo!”(meaning right on bro) I believe this research captures the definition quite accurately and accounts for why so many married couples are unhappy. I believe that all too many people are asking the question “Am I satisfied in my marriage?” which I believe is the wrong question. If you start with the wrong question it almost doesn’t matter what the answer is. I feel this posting getting a little deep but now that I am in up to my waist I will proceed.

Okay wise guy, why is that the wrong question? Surely God would want me to be satisfied in my marriage. He would want me to be happy and fulfilled. This is where Scripture gets a little dicey. Would God prefer that we are satisfied, happy and fulfilled – perhaps, BUT

Our purpose in marriage as well as in life is to glorify God. God is first and foremost concerned about our holiness and not our happiness. This means that you may be in a very difficult marriage, one that God will use to ultimately benefit you. He will use your spouse, if you let him, to draw you closer to Him, to enable you to grow into the person that He wants you to be. I know, I was in that kind of a marriage. During the better part of our thirty-eight year marriage, before my wife died of cancer,she suffered from bi-polar illness with a touch of schizophrenia sprinkled in. I can say that today I am a much better person for having been married to my first wife. The Lord used her to grow me and develop me in numerous ways.

Therefore it would seem to me that the right question to ask is “Does our marriage glorify God?” If the answer is yes, most likely you are in a very satisfying relationship.

What do you think?