Marriage is a journey of two imperfect people learning to live with those imperfections in love, forgiveness and compassion. I have been married for over 31 years and I know how difficult it can be. I also know how rewarding it is to "stick it out" through all the mess. I believe marriage is a crucible, designed to be "a place or situation in which concentrated forces interact to cause or influence change or development" (Merriam Webster). As my scientist son said, "sometimes the substances have no 'desire' to change unless heat is applied." I think this can be true in the context of marriage. Unless we go through the heat in the crucible of marriage, we have no 'desire' to change and remain in a state that is stunted in growth. I don't think marriage is the only context for growth and change, but I do believe it is one of the most effective ones.
In an era where relationships are casual, commitment minimal, and intimacy cheap, the cost is high in loneliness, depression, and addiction. We are made to be part of a community, to be known and to know others in the context of the committed bond of marriage and family. At the same time, I am not so naive to believe that all marriages must and should last. If there is ongoing abuse, no willingness to change over a period of time, addictive behavior that remains unremitted in either partner, other measures are needed.
Often in Christian circles, women and sometimes men are counseled to remain in the marriage and 'submit' or 'love' regardless of how the other behaves in the name of 'unconditional' love. This has created a situation ripe for abuse, either verbal, physical, sexual or all three. Scripture teaches that when there is sin and bad, unrepentant behavior, the rules change. God's love for us is total, complete and unconditional. We will never lose our relationship with him, once we are his child. This does not mean there are no consequences when we sin, for sin carries its own consequence many times. However, it does mean that he will remain with us, loving us, giving us hope, even if he lets us feel the sting of the consequence.
The famous verse, John 3:16, the epitome of selfless love, has a condition: "whoever believes". Those who are willing to take a risk of faith and believe, will experience the presence and love of God. In every day life we also know that acceptance comes with conditions. When applying for a loan, the banker will call and say, "You are approved! Just come down and sign the papers." It is acceptance, but still based on steps one needs to take. So it is in marriage. One must take steps for healthy change if the relationship is to remain intact. Whenever there are no consequences for bad behavior, abuse merely increases, it does not stem it.
When preparing for marriage, having an open discussion on various topics ranging from finances, sex, intimacy, activities and number of children, among other topics, is necessary to increase the odds of a successful marriage.
For further help and information, please contact me at 720-201-5030