A couple of different conversations with friends just this week prompted the thoughts, I guess. One friend is nearing the finality of a marriage and one is struggling to stay afloat in complicated waters. Both are carrying the hurt and pain through the facade of a happy smile. I asked both of them how they’re doing and both responded with an Academy award worthy, “Fine. I’m really doing fine.”
It reminds me of my post from yesterday. Define fine.
When I was newly married, I remember pointing out the occasional elderly couple walking hand in hand to W and feeling encouraged. That would be us someday ~ there was never a doubt in my mind. Probably 99% of the marriages in existence today began that way. We all thought we were going to be the successful marriage and the statistics of failed relationships was an unfortunate thing that would happen to someone else. We all thought the bad stuff would happen to someone else but a lot of us did little to insure that. Personally, I knew the remote chance of two 20 year olds “tying the knot” while still in college and actually making it to the stage of holding hands in their 80’s didn’t have winning odds. I didn’t care about odds ~ our marriage was different and every negative argument to the contrary wasn’t feasible. I know that every bride and groom believes that in their hearts…and they should. Is it even possible to succeed without that belief? It’s hard enough with a confident heart. But don’t just believe it ~ LIVE it out. Cultivate it.
Why some marriages fail and some succeed is a mystery to me. Whether it’s God’s own hand or personal effort or a combination of many things is unknown. Those that last until death parts them, though, are not without close calls of failure, I would guess. Those marriages in need of repair were, at one moment in time, solid. An erroneous decision here, a wounded spirit there, a harsh word here, a defeated attitude there…all led to the relationships demise. In all likelihood, a better decision or kind word or noble effort would have saved the vows.
A succession of many little moments in time could have made all of the difference.
Lately, it seems there is a very deliberate attack on families and marriages. The societal nonchalance toward the attack really bothers me. As part of my job, I see numerous prayer requests daily from people who are suffering the effects of a marriage in trouble. When I say that it stops me in my tracks every time, believe me. It leaves me feeling cold and hopeless…so I do all that I can do which is pray for them.
It’s tough work ~ this marriage thing. It’s not always pretty and there are seasons when you feel like you’ve been weeding the garden for months without a single hint of a blossom or anything of beauty…but it’s worth the sweat and the dirt under your nails. One morning ~ any morning ~ the sun could shine brightly on a brilliant cluster of roses and you would know that without your part in the process, that flower didn’t have a chance.
It’s not always that easy, I know. There are extenuating circumstances and untold wreckage sometimes. Sometimes the damage is irreparable, the trust beyond recouping or the wounds unable to heal completely. But sometimes the defenses can be torn down and the core of a relationship can be rediscovered, right? After all, couples chose each other above all others once upon a time. That choice should be honored and respected from the inside and, especially, by those on the outside.
I’m going to spend this morning praying for marriages..my own, my daughter’s, my parents, my friends…the healthy marriages, the feeble, estranged and struggling-to-reconnect ones…. because we all need prayer to protect what is under attack.
I’m sorry..this is a subject near and dear to me. I will now step down from my soap box and try not to be so sad about the dissolution of the dream of “happily ever after”. I admit to being in love with the notion of 2 people growing old together. I’m in love with the belief that marriages can thrive and not just survive! Too many people don’t want to do their part to make it happen, I suppose. When we quit on a neglected marriage, we leave behind wounded souls and don’t think for a moment we don’t carry a wounded soul with us as we walk away… the problems don’t stay at 123 Main Street ~they become our cross to bear wherever we go.
I want to be hand in hand with my husband when I’m 80. I want to speak that truth into my life and it would be awesome if others could recapture that hope in their marriages, as well. I’m praying for ALL of us today.