Monday, 14 May 2012

Canary in a Coal Mine

In the early days of coal mining workers would carry down into the tunnels with them a caged canary. If dangerous gases such as methane or carbon monoxide leaked into the mine-shaft, the gases would kill the canary before killing the miners.

Just as the canary provided the miners with a warning sign, allowing them to seek safety, we must have something similar in our marriages to alert us that “dangerous gases” have leaked into our relationship.  What would serve as a “canary” in your marriage?

A married couple should at least afford themselves the same opportunity as the miners.  In marriage the dangerous gases could be represented by feelings of neglect,(not spending enough quality time together), or they could be represented by criticism, feeling unloved, feeling lonely, feeling disrespected, etc.  In fact it may be the negative feeling itself that serves as a canary for you.

The remaining question then becomes what represents safety for the couple and how do they get there.  Safety is always found in the arms of God.  The couple should consider coming together, talking candidly about what at least one of the partners is sensing and praying about it together. A good place to start is to ask God to “search me, O God, and know my heart, test me and know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-4)

Reaffirm your covenant vow to one another, i.e. there is no exit strategy, you are both committed to doing whatever it will take to transform your marriage into one that glorifies God.

Next seek Godly counsel.  This may come from a “mature”, Godly couple whose advice  you would trust.  These would be people who have most likely walked down the path you are on and have worked through the issues.  If no couple comes to mind, perhaps your pastor or a Biblical counselor who has experience working with married couples could be helpful.

If your marriage is in fact still good, just not as God glorifying as you would like, you might benefit from reading a really good book together and talking about what you learn. Books such as Paul Tripp’s What Did You Expect? or Dave Harvey’s Whan Sinners Say I Do, or Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas would be excellent resources,

Without question if most of the couples that I have seen in counseling over the years would have taken these steps at the first sign of a dangerous gas their marriage they could have most likely weathered the storm and been stronger for having done so.

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