|Start Sowing and Reaping Benefits|
Freda Daisy Howell
I have a huge garden behind my house. It is lined with trees and has a huge wooden swing by a corner. Birds and squirrels are daily guests. Yesterday, I sat in my living room looking out through the window and wished there were flowers in the garden. I complained to everyone who crossed my path about how I have, what could potentially be, such a good garden but there were no flowers in it! What a waste of money and effort. One of my friends asked me if I had sowed any seeds in my garden. Of course I had not. I did everything else. I watered it from time to time and regularly removed any weeds. This story is completely fictional. I live in a dorm and there is no trace of a garden outside my room. The point of the story was to draw a parallel with so many marriages. Often you come across people who complain about a boring marriage, a marriage devoid of passion. They got married but where is the passion? Marriage isn’t turning out to be what they’d signed up for? Expecting a passionate marriage without effort is similar to expecting flowers in a garden with no seeds. You cannot reap without sowing. It’s a very simple and easy to prove fact.
God’s Plan for Marriage
I firmly believe that God did not intend for marriages to be boring. God did not intend for any relationship to be boring. It isn’t part of His nature. Firstly, as a triune God, relating is in the very essence of God. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit do not live in isolation, they live together, and they connect. I do not have a theological training, but if relating is an aspect of God’s identity, the earthly manifestation of relating among God’s people cannot be ugly. We live in a fallen world, so perfection is unattainable, but we can still aspire for connecting with each other in accordance with the example the triune God provides. Secondly, the relationship between Christ and the church is full of passion. If a marriage consists of a similar love then the possibility of a passionless marriage is impossible (Ephesians 5: 25).
Yet, the truth remains that marriages are in trouble within the Christian circle. When you might talk about your marriage with a non Christian friend, it’s possible that they may think that there is no difference between your marriage and their marriage. They are unlikely to say, “Wow, your marriage is just as bad as mine, I want to know more about the God you worship!” A problem arises when marriages are viewed as a contract and not as a covenant. It is dangerous when each member focuses on their rights and not on their promises. It is dangerous when the focus is on what the other person is not doing for you, rather than on what you are doing for the other person.
Your heart follows your treasure (Luke 12:34). Where is your treasure? Is it at work, is it in your children, is it in the church? You will invest time, money, and energy where your heart is. If your heart is in your marriage you will invest there. If it is not, may be you need to switch your treasures around. I refuse to believe that God wants anything else to become a higher priority than your marriage (other than your relationship with Him). He can find someone else to spread the Gospel, but you probably do not want Him to find someone else to satisfy your spouse. That’s a task God assigned to you and that only you can fulfill.
My first instinct was to write down take out time to talk to your spouse every day. However, I don’t think that’s where most marriages are lacking. Instead of talking more, listen more and listen better. One of the skills we learn in counselling is active listening. Give your complete attention to your spouse. Try to understand what they’re saying and then double check if you have accurately understood what they said. Try and figure out what is the feeling behind the words.
Example: Wife: “I had such a long and difficult day at work and you came back later than usual. I am tired and exhausted. I wish you could be here on time for a change!”
Husband: “Why are you always complaining?” or Husband (active listening): “You had a tiring day at work and you would have liked it if I had been here for you."
The first sentence is likely to cause conflict and the second sentence reduces the chances of conflict. Notice that you have not apologized for your behaviour. You have just made your wife feel understood and that is probably more effective than a meaningless, “Yes, I’m sorry.”
So talk for at least half an hour every day and engage in active listening. People like to talk when the other person is truly listening. Your half an hour might end up being longer than you expected, and that’s a good thing!
Plan a time every week when nothing else in the world matters other than your spouse and you. Turn your phones off, find a baby sitter, wake up before your children are up and remove any other distractions. Spend time praying together, talking to each other, sharing what God has been teaching you, planning goals for your family or doing whatever you like. Get into your car and go for a drive, buy coffee, be creative! Family vacations are so important. They might be expensive, but you need to get away from work and spend time with your family. At times, this might be impossible. My dad runs into people he knows almost everywhere, but it’s still so good to get away from work and invest in relationships. The benefits of time spent together extend far beyond the vacation. |
I am sure if you sat down with your spouse you could come up with ways that were better suited to you. Keep God at the centre and things should start falling into place.
Freda Daisy Howell is studying for MA in Counselling at Providence Seminary, Canada