Thursday, January 31, 2008

Wife Rule #4: The Big Things Don't Matter Either

My wife and I married young, and to be honest, I think we were both wearing rose-colored glasses when we wed. We both came from happy homes, with wonderful parents who met challenges head-on and conquered them. We had seen them make it; so would we. In fact, our universes revolved around each other so completely that it was beyond my ability to imagine any serious challenges ("Big Things") in our marriage.

Nearly ten years later, I have now seen this world through an adult's eyes long enough to have lost a little of my naivety. I try not to take our marriage for granted. I am beginning to understand that nearly every couple in nearly every marriage, even those which appear to be "perfect" from the outside looking in, go through Big Things--major ordeals that stretch the fabric of their union to the breaking point.

But this is where the power of a covenant marriage comes in. You see, I have been taught that there are two types of marriages: contract marriages, and covenant marriages. In a contract marriage, there are two parties, each giving 50%. Each takes as much as they give. Each expects a return on their investment, and if that return fails to live up to expectations, or even if the "market" shifts, providing other opportunities, they feel free to abandon their contract and seek better results elsewhere. The contract marriage is based on conditions, and is not much more than a piece of paper.

In contrast, in the ideal covenant marriage, the two spouses each give 100%. And in addition to them, there is a third party: God. Neither spouse is concerned with measuring ROI, and if they did, there would be no room for complaint because each could see that God provides a return above and beyond what they each give. He is there to supplement the marriage when there are shortfalls. He is there to encourage and help and protect and strengthen. And because the two spouses made their marriage promises to God, He is woven into the fabric of their union. It cannot break, even if the spouses temporarily abandon each other, as long as they have not abandoned Him. The covenant marriage is based on promises, and is a living thing that exists outside of either spouse individually and contributes to the strength of their union.

My wife and I have yet to experience anything even remotely as difficult in our marriage as what we have seen some of our loved ones go through. But in all likelihood, Big Things will come, and when they do, we won't be relying on a contract marriage to see us through. You see, when I married my amazing wife, we made promises. We made promises to each other, and we made promises to God. None of those promises were conditional. We made promises not knowing what Big Things may come, so it really doesn't matter what Big Things do come; we made promises. We made promises.

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