[From Julie] I was thinking today about what makes a marriage work. What makes some marriages look like a breeze and others look like a tornado? Why do some couples just ‘click’ and others have to really work at even getting along, let alone ‘getting’ each other? I think the difference isn’t that one couple is more in love than another or that one is just a good match and the other couple is not (however, similar ways of looking at the world is helpful). I think it’s an issue of trust.
There are naturally going to be some issues that couples need to work through, especially when they are newly married, but what I would like to suggest for your consideration is this: couples who have been together for years and continue to have the same conflicts over and over again are stalled in their development of trust.
Trust can be hard to build if there has been a serious or continual breech of confidence especially early in the marriage. There is no quick fix for this and often a mediator or professional counseling is needed to guide a couple through these challenges but if there is no growing trust between you then there is no growth. We’ve all seen this and some of us have experienced it. If this is your story you know personally that it’s a tough road and I hope that you have felt God’s hand in your marriage as you walk this path. He will never desert you. Trust means everything.
Think back to your newlywed years. Was it rocky or one big holiday? Did you disagree often or think poorly of your spouse? Ladies, did you often get caught up in talking to your girlfriends about your husband in an unflattering light? I know I did. I hate that I did that but I did and often I didn’t even know why. I thought the world of Noel but it didn’t show on the outside. I would just be irritated with something Noel did or didn’t do. If I wasn’t irritated at that exact moment if you just gave me a few minutes I could come up with something that was worthy of a complaint. I would be upset about things that could never have been his fault but I just wanted him to share in the misery I created. Simple things like the cat threw up (again), the grocery store didn’t have what I needed, or something I was making didn’t turn out. I felt no need to control my mood or feelings because he should love me no matter what, right? Why shouldn’t he be aware of all my moods and love me no matter what? I think I was subconsciously testing him to see if he would really love me even when I was being unlovable. I know it’s pretty stupid but give me a break I was really young. 🙂
Don’t get me wrong, I thought we had a great marriage right from the start. I thought I would do anything for him but in reality that was not the case. Intellectually and emotionally I thought he was my perfect match but in all practicality I was not behaving that way. I thought that if I didn’t try to control him how would I ever get him to do what I wanted. i.e. Say nice things to me, buy me flowers once in awhile, support me, listen to me, not be angry with me etc. I didn’t trust him to love me like Christ loves the church. I was behaving like I had to force him to love me that way. I hated the idea of submitting to him because I wanted things my way and I didn’t trust him to lead our family the way I thought it should be done. I thought he wouldn’t consider my thoughts or involve me in the family decisions but instead just expect me to blindly follow him. When I think back on this it sounds so ridiculous and not very Noel-like either.
Marriage is not easy, even when you are well matched. Some of the newly married adjustments work themselves out in time. Which I think was the case with me. We were 22 when we got married and we had a lot of growing to do. When I look back on those early years I am so amazed at my husband. He told me regularly that I was perfect for him. He always reassured me, supported me, protected me, was looking out for my best interests, and never said one negative thing about me to his friends. I wish I could say the same thing about myself. In short, he was loving me like Christ from the beginning. Even at my most difficult he was patient and always loving.
When you do life together long enough you start to develop habits and patterns and trust becomes possible. After having a few kids and walking through some pretty tough emotional territory together our marriage got stronger and better. I trusted Noel more and I gave up my strangle hold on control. I knew we would always talk and pray about issues before we made any major decisions and we would walk this road together. When he loves me well he makes it easier to submit to him because I’ve seen him submit to me. He guards my feelings and prays for me. I control less and can trust more.
This trust gives me confidence in our marriage. It brings us both closer to God and each other. Noel prays for me and I pray for him. We know that we’ve been on the receiving end of many prayers from our family and church family and these prayers and the grace of God are the only reason that our marriage is as strong as it is. Praise God!
Simply being good people is not enough to make a great marriage. Two wonderful people who don’t trust each other are a train wreck as a married couple. Who is at the center of your marriage and who makes it possible for you to trust each other? If you rely on yourself or demand a certain show of good faith on behalf of your spouse you will always be disappointed in the results. Trust takes time and it also takes constant forgiveness and endless amounts of love. These things are only possible if Jesus is the center of your marriage. I trust Noel fully because I know who he serves.
So what now? If trust is a trouble spot for your marriage what can you do? Only God makes it possible for two sinners to live together without killing each other. Maybe this can be a point of prayer in your marriage. Pray for the courage to trust your spouse. Pray for guidance in resolving those trouble spots where trust keeps breaking down. Even when you’re married you can’t change another person (that’s another blog entry altogether). All you can do is change your attitude and your behaviour. Can you be a spouse that is worthy of trust? What do you think?