Monday, June 25, 2012

Please Don't Lie About Marriage

Larry & I, lighting the unity candle at our wedding

Let's stop telling young people the difficult parts of marriage and parenting, so they won't be so reluctant to do both, and sooner..."

After reading this on a popular Christian blog earlier this week, I promptly unsubscribed.

I've been a reader for a while now, and the majority of what's published there is solid.  But I was so disgusted by this latest mandate, particularly directed at the thousands of wives and mothers who read the blog, I left a comment saying so, and unsubscribed.

I hate lies, and anything that even slightly smacks of deception. Even when it supposedly for a good reason.

It's unfortunately not the only time I've heard this suggestion. Some say we should keep quiet about the difficulties of marriage and keep the positive elements at the forefront so young adults will be enticed to make a commitment to marriage. The blogger I reference here is very concerned about young adults waiting so long these days to make a marriage commitment, and even longer in many cases to have children. She speaks of the physical dangers of women having children later and by virtue of this choice, grandparents of the future being much older when their children become parents. Last time I checked, it was okay for grandparents to be old. But whatever.

Being positive is a good thing in general. But acting as if marriage is easy or always pleasant and  hiding the challenges one will inevitably face renders our young people unprepared. The first time they have an obstacle in their marriage they'll believe they are odd. Or alone. Or that they've married the wrong person and need to start all over.

Marriage is wonderful. Marriage is also challenging. That's why I'm reveling in the fact that I've been married 25 years this Wednesday. It's a huge accomplishment, one that at least half of everyone who does it never achieves. So yeah, I'm pretty excited about it. 

Being honest brings healing. Cover-ups bring confusion and hurt. One of the greatest gifts anyone ever gave me in marriage was transparency about their own. Many years ago when Larry and I first began lead pastoring, we had a conflict in our marriage. I felt very alone. Pastors and their spouses opening up about fights or difficulties was kind of rare back then. Actually it's still not popular today...

I asked a pastor's wife if I could meet with her and ask some questions, to learn from her. She happily obliged. I'm so grateful to this day for all this dear woman imparted to me. When sharing with her about the conflict we were going through, she blessed me with pure honesty. She vulnerably shared  the nitty gritty of a specific conflict she and her husband had when they first started out. It was along the same lines that I was dealing with. She  was honest with me that it took years to resolve. It was actually refreshing to me to hear somebody speak in such realistic terms! I left there knowing I wasn't alone. I would say that it took Larry and I about five years to resolve that particular conflict.

Five. Whole. Years.

That doesn't sound exciting or pretty, but it's the truth.

Some things don't resolve quickly. Even if you haven't "let the sun go down on your wrath" there are still issues that come up in marriage that might take significant time to fully resolve. And that doesn't mean you're a failure...or that you should give up. So please, don't. If you are struggling...give it more time.

Larry and I teach marriage seminars together now and if you would have told me years ago that we'd be doing that I would have laughed you out of the room. But here we are. :) And one thing we always share in our teachings is the statistics show that 85% of people get divorced for "non-severe reasons." Surveys have shown the divorce does not make people happy and that a majority of people who were going to get a divorce but stuck it out were happy years later.  

There are seasons of marriage.

Sometimes a season can last for years. Our young people need to know that seasons are normal. Lying about this is on the front end before they commit is not a good thing because once they are in, they just might think a season is a sign they need to give up!  

Today you might be reading this and feel very alone, or believe things are beyond hope in your marriage. Perhaps the thought has crossed your mind, "Our conflicts aren't resolving and we've been at odds for two years...it might be time for us to part ways..." Can I just implore you not to do that? 

No marriage is perfect because people aren't perfect.

Perhaps what you may need right now is to talk to some married people who are honest enough to admit they've been there too.

People who are willing to admit they've been to counseling.

People who are willing to admit it's not all wine and roses. (Especially if you're in the AG, it's just roses, no wine.)

People who are willing to admit that many times your marriage is a lot more about your holiness than your happiness.

There are days marriage is easier and days it is harder, but every day God gives grace come what may.

God created marriage. There's no need to lie about it to get more people involved in it. Just live it honestly. I've found people aren't so much looking to follow perfect people, but they are attracted to perfectly honest people.


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