Marriage and Relationships: a Second Chance
“It’s pretty sad,” the clergyman shared with his congregation, “That one out of every two couples that I marry split up. “The reason is usually summed up in these words by one or both of the newlyweds, ‘Marriage isn’t what I thought it would be!’”
From the audience, one bride of less than a year must have agreed. She laughed so loud and long that he stopped, stared, and addressed her, “Carol, you haven’t been married that long. What are you laughing about?”
Even though it has often been said, “The couple that prays together, stays together,” Paul and Carol had done that. They planned a budget together. The couple counseled with the pastor. At one long-time spouse’s suggestion, they remembered he advised, “The couple that paints the garage together is the real test. Can you still love your partner after a 15-hour day of agreeing on a color from thousands of shades? Then can you forgive the spills and spots of the one who isn’t that good of a painter or who stepped in the paint tray?”
Following that advice during their courtship, the two had painted a garage together. After that shared experience, they still planned to marry because compatibility seemed to be a sure thing.
Still, there were surprises. Some were great. Some weren’t. All the pets barfed on the rug at some point. Paul cleaned it up.
When Carol cooked, Paul always thanked her for the meal and added, “Kick back, Sweetie. Do anything you want. I’ll do the dishes.”
Maybe because of all the romance writers out there, new brides may expect something different. Somebody taller than her with a six-pack that didn’t come from the fridge. In looks, the love interest guy is so strikingly handsome that he could be on the cover of G.Q. [Gentlemen’s’ Quarterly.] Kisses that are more of a dream come true than winning the Power Ball Jackpot. The fictional romantic man never makes any rude bodily noises, whether accidentally or on purpose. Real life. That’s different.
Carol knew those attributes of romance heroes are no more real than the size 3 models representing the average woman in clothing catalogs – or the chisel-jawed men, slender, six feet or so in men’s clothing catalogs.
Mutual respect. It’s the foundation of Ephesians 5.
“Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless….However, each one of you must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” [Ephesians 5: 25-27; 5:33].
Jesus taught and valued people of all levels of life, all races and denominations. He still does. Jesus may have healed their bodies as well as souls with forgiveness. He has modeled how to handle relationships.
Jesus also models tolerance and flexibility. Relationships require forgiveness at times.
When five adult siblings gathered after their mother’s death, four got in a fight over a teakettle each wanted. In the decades that followed, none of the four spoke to each other. One by one, they slipped into Alzheimer’s or death.
As each of the four would come before Jesus, what would he say about their relationship skills? Where had they failed each other? In failing to work on relationships and giving another chance.
The real man in her life, Carol decided, is the one who prays with her each morning, cleans up the messes on the rug and generally makes work and play more fun. He is worthy of respect, forgiveness, and a second chance. So are you.
[Jo Russell is a Christian speaker, author of articles, anthology contributions, and award-winning Which Button Do You Push to Get God to Come Out? A Humorous Devotional for Women. available from Amazon.com, her speaking engagements and website, www.button-to-god.com. Enjoy chuckles and speeches, tips and excerpts in website options and weekly blog.]