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Can your marriage endure changes?

This is what marriage is about.
This is what marriage is about.

Recently, a friend posted an article from a blogger named Matt Walsh. The title of the blog was “My wife is not the same woman I married.”

The title aroused this writer’s curiosity because the thought came to mind of course she’s not the same woman he married. Now that title came from someone he ran into at the grocery store who reads his blog.

Prior to his visit at the grocery store, in fact, the night before, he received an email from a reader who told him that she had recently been invited to a friend’s “divorce party.” She wanted to know what his opinion was of what seems to be a trend, not only in Hollywood, but in everyday America.

Matt had already begun writing about it when he had met this fellow at the grocery store. This person asked him what he was going to write about next. His answer, of course, was about the email he received about divorce parties. That led to a rather disturbing conversation for Matt. He was asked, “What about them?”

When he gave his reply saying that they represent a cavalier attitude toward divorce and that they are harmful and perpetuate the problem, this man’s response seemed to be just as cavalier. He announced that he’d been divorced twice and married to his present wife eleven years.

His outlook is that “It happens. People can change. Someday you might wake up and find your wife isn’t the same person you married. It happens."

His feeling is that nothing is permanent, including marriage. So, is he saying that even though he’s been married for eleven years to his third wife, he doesn’t think it’s going to last?

Matt, who has been married only three years, no divorces and it seems he is a bit younger than this man, replied that he will be with his wife until one of them dies. That is the choice they have made concerning their marriage.

He counters Matt’s remarks by laughing and saying that he said the same thing when he was Matt’s age. He goes on to say that sometimes divorce is the only way to be happy.

Is that his way of saying because things change in a marriage from how it was when the marriage was bright and new that there’s no longer a chance for happiness and people should just throw in the towel and look for something better? Going back to his present marriage, is he telling us that nothing in his marriage has changed in eleven years? Is he trying to say that his wife has not changed one iota in all that time or that he, himself, has not changed? Is he for real? Her tastes have never changed or his, they both do everything exactly the same way they did in the beginning of their marriage?

So the way this man that Matt encountered looks at marriage or anything, for that matter, seems pretty self-defeating because he doesn’t have any expectations that it will last even though he has been married now for eleven years to his third wife?

“Things change,’ he says and, yes, they surely do. When you are first married, everything is fresh and new, exciting and things seem to be falling into place like the last few pieces of a puzzle.

Then, for people like this man, seemingly more knowledgeable according to him, the first time someone jars the table and some pieces fall out of place, rather than trying to put them back in place so he can enjoy what was just created, he breaks the rest of it apart and dumps the pieces back in the box. Suddenly all the beauty of the puzzle that took so much work is gone and in pieces.

Now, we know that puzzles can be put back together to look just as beautiful as it did when it was first put together. Well, isn’t it the same for a marriage that has fallen apart? Can’t that, be put together, as well? Maybe some can’t but to label marriage in general as something that can only be fixed through divorce; through dividing the family is a gross mistake.

Unfortunately, too many people look at marriage as something that is supposed to start out perfect and remain that way. Then when imperfections start to show up in the spouse that wasn’t recognized before the wedding vows, all of a sudden problems start developing. “Well this wasn’t what I signed on for” or “This isn’t how I thought it would be” or some such thoughts cross the mind of one of them. Instead of either accepting those imperfections in their spouse, they use it as fuel for the first disagreement or misunderstanding that they have.

The next thing you know, there is a full blown argument, tempers flare and “oh yes, now I can use that imperfection that’s been bothering me.” Of course it’s not done exactly like that, but sometimes the more negative aspects of relationships are the ones that seem to surface when there is any kind of disagreement. It’s like people need something to seal their point of view or their side of the argument even if it has little to do with the situation at hand. Then that perceived picture-perfect marriage is marred and for some, the imperfections are more than they can handle. So instead of trying to get to the root of the problem, the anger or frustrations are tucked away to be brought forward at some future time.

When this happens, too many couples are so fueled with anger and resentment that the only solution they see is divorce. Rather than put forth some real effort to save this not-so-perfect marriage, they choose to throw it away rather than try to fix it. Even those who say they’ve tried to fix it, have they really? Have they made a real effort to restore what seems to be missing? Have they looked intensely enough to find the root of the problem or problems so they could make a team effort to heal the hurt and mend the relationship so that it, too, can heal?

There’s been no discussion, feelings have not been smoothed out or made to feel better, and solutions have not come to the front because nobody talked about it. The problem or the perceived problem just gets tucked away to come out in some new-found disagreement to add even more fuel to it. So, here is a big change in some marriages; they no longer look at their relationship as being compatible. Was this the change, that fellow earlier was referring to?

Well, if there was never any discussion about whatever the problem was and only accusations or blame was passed around, is it any wonder that the changes that may have taken place caused the marriage to fall apart?

Some people just see their marriage from their point of view and seem to forget that this marriage thing is more than people living together, having great sex and living in a fantasy world of what they think their marriage should be.

If every marriage that ever developed problems early on or at any time during the marriage was just thought of as an inconvenience or something they couldn’t be bothered with, there would be no marriages. But this writer likes to think that, as a rule, most couples who run into problems do or will talk things out when there are problems and let each other know if there is something they need to work out together.

There are many married friends in this writer’s life who have seen every storm possible from financial problems, health problems, wayward children, children with special needs, emotional problems, drug problems, and a myriad of other problems who have weathered them all and whose marriages have lasted. They will be the first to admit, it wasn’t easy and some will say there were times when things couldn’t have seemed more hopeless, but they stood the test of time and the storms. Those marriages lasted 30, 40, 50 and some over 60 years of marriage before one or the other passed away.

It was not only that they handled the turbulent times in their marriages, but how they did it and what made the difference in their lives compared to those who just gave up and decided to try something new; a new partner or a new way of life.

This writer has found that in the marriages that have weathered all the storms that have come to them were based on the fundamental belief that marriage was instituted of God and that it is a sacred ordinance; not to be taken lightly. It is a belief that God, who has ordained marriage between a man and a woman, expects obedience not only to the vows or covenants made between them but between them and Him. When both of these ingredients are part of the sacred contract made at the altar, marriages are much more apt to be able to weather whatever storms may arise. That’s not to say that everyone will have the same outcome or that challenges still won’t come to them, but when the sacred ordinance of marriage is honored and taken seriously, there is a much better chance of it surviving whatever comes their way.

One of the things that helps marriages survive is both partners who are willing to share in each others burdens, whatever they may be and lending strength, comfort and most of all a sincere love.

Matt defended the man’s statement by stating, “My wife isn’t the same person that I married.” He went on to explain that she was a 22-year-old college student when they met and now she’s a 27-year-old mother of two. It’s a pretty fair statement that she has seen some changes in her life even though she is the same person with same DNA, the same biological make up with the same kind of character. However, she is not the same as she was five years ago. Her situation has changed, her challenges have changed, and her role as a wife has changed to include being a mother to two children.

None of us stay the same in any relationship. We all change to some degree as our circumstances change. Sometimes just the way we do things changes. As we get older and hopefully wiser, our priorities change and as with the law of nature, we change with them.

Just like the seasons change and the weather changes, we, as part of this vast world, go through changes; some good and some bad. However, we can determine how those changes affect us by how we act or react to them.

The fact remains that everything in the world is changing day by day, week by week, month by month and year by year. Everything and everyone experiences their own cycle of changes. Some changes are subtle; others are more pronounced and easily seen. The entirety of life is change so why would anyone look at marriage as though those changes require a divorce because of them. Change can be good if we work to make it so.

Can you imagine living in a world or even a marriage that stays the same, never grows, never meets challenges, never moves forward; just stays where it is, becoming more and more robotic in its existence, always repeating the same things over and over again? Eventually there is nothing left but an imperceptible emptiness brought about because feelings have become lacking of diversity and life.

It is diversity and change that keeps our lives fulfilled and at times renewed and happy. Change is a constant that flows though the universe to touch hearts and lives.

Look at how lives, hearts, and minds have changed because of something someone has done or said. Sometimes it comes with the natural events that, at times, changes even the face of the earth.

Imagine when there is a hurricane, tornado or tsunami, if after it was over, no one did anything because the sudden change and destruction that came didn’t fit in the plans people had and because things weren’t the same as they were, everyone just said, “The challenge to fix all this and make it better is just too much. I can’t handle it so I’ll just go somewhere else to live where things are beautiful and in order.” They are happy at the new location, but then a huge storm comes up and floods everything ruining all the beautiful landscapes and buildings. So now, this place needs a lot of work to renew it and make it beautiful again.

What happens then? You keep moving on to something you think is better, only to find out the changes you were trying to get away from are happening where ever you go?

Wouldn’t it be worth the effort to stop and survey the situation and then try to come up with some sort of plan to rebuild, strengthen and beautify the place you had come to love than to just abandon it and let it go to waste?

That was a pretty unusual way to look at something like marriage but doesn’t it make sense? Yes, marriages can come on rocky times and sometimes the storm rages and tears at every seam until there is barely a thread holding it together. Now, it would be easy to just discard it and look for something better, but just think about what you could possibly miss if you didn’t stay and wait out the storm, rebuilding and fortifying; making it beautiful again. Remember, when you and your spouse covenanted with God and with each other? Are you really willing to just give up and let the storm claim your marriage or are you willing to stand up and fight for the sanctity of your marriage? Is walking away and giving up the answer?

When two people marry, sometimes they forget that they are two individuals with different likes and dislikes. Yes, they have recognized some of them prior to their marriage, but sometimes they forget that living with those individual traits in each other is going to take some getting used to and some compromising. Respecting and accepting each others differences can be a real trial for some couples while others look at them as just a part of being married.

This article started out talking about “divorce parties.” It is a sad commentary on marriage if we, as a society now look at marriage and things that can happen to weaken a marriage as nothing more than an inconvenience and not worth the time and effort needed to make the necessary repairs. Having a companion in marriage is not like having a new car. When a car starts to get sluggish and having problems that make it difficult to drive, most people will do whatever they can to keep it running, but sometimes, it has lost its usefulness and must be gotten rid of for something more suitable and runs smoothly.

Having a marriage companion is different because they are not inanimate objects; they are human beings with sensitivities and feelings. That’s why it’s important to be attentive and listen when your spouse is talking. Whether it is a wife or husband, they like to know they are worth listening to. You may not agree with what’s being said and that’s okay, but don’t always feel you have the only solution or that your way of solving a problem is the only way. This is where so many people start making their situation worse than it needs to be.

Listening is a very important ingredient in having a strong and lasting marriage. Sometimes just taking a moment to consider the others point of view can stay an ugly argument filled with harsh words that can hurt and destroy even the best of marriages.

Compassion is another ingredient that helps cement marriages even through the worst of times. When a married couple (man and woman) don’t see eye to eye or circumstances become overwhelming and stressful, that doesn’t mean they can’t find a workable solution to the problem at hand.

The following is an excerpt from The Family; A Proclamation To The World. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities. By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners. Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation.

Getting back to “divorce parties” what is there to celebrate? We celebrate births, graduations, promotions and, of course, marriages. That’s as it should be; those are things we should celebrate because they represent happy times. What is happy about a divorce? If a marriage doesn’t work out for whatever reason, how does it make sense to celebrate the divorce?

Marriage is a sacred and solemn ordinance in the sight of God; He ordained it from the beginning with Adam and Eve. It is part of His eternal plan for our happiness. Society has taken some of the sacredness away from, not only, the marriage ceremony but what follows in the lives of the married couple. People need to bring that sacredness back to marriage; not only during the wedding ceremony but during all the ups and downs, happy and sad times, calm and troubled times and all other times.

Remember that just because changes come in a marriage, whether it is a change in circumstances or in your spouse, that doesn’t mean that it’s not working or that it won’t continue working, it only means that the marriage is following the natural flow of things. Everything changes; we, our lives and everything around us are in a state of constant change. Instead of moving away from changes that come in marriage, embrace the change if it is a good one. If it is not a good change, stand back and look at it and try to figure out what brought that change about; perhaps there is a way of reversing it or at least overcoming and rising above it. They key, however, is to do it together; after all, isn’t that why you got married, to have someone to share your life with? So share in the changes and support each other as you work through them. Make “divorce” a foreign word in your marriage.