February 14, 2014

Marital Spats

Maybe this seems like an odd post for Valentine's Day, but let's face the facts: If you get married, you will have arguments with your spouse. That shouldn't come as a shock to anyone.

What shocks me is the number of people I've heard who use this as an excuse to move in with their partner without ever making it official. They think, for some reason, that if they don't get married, they won't fight - or better yet, they think that by not getting married, this will be a good thing because it will allow them to walk away when the fights come... and the fighting does come, whether you're married or not! Any time you have two or more individuals who spend enough time together, there will be conflicts and misunderstandings, at least from time to time. It's natural, and I would even say it can be healthy if it's handled in the right way.

Some people see marriage as nothing more than a piece of paper or a legal contract, but I see it as a long-term commitment, which is why I think it's not something to go into lightly. It's important that both partners think seriously about what they're getting into and the vows they're taking in the sight of God and man. It wouldn't be right to force someone into a marriage they can't commit to! But it's also not something to shy away from when you know that both of you are ready. Marriage can be a beautiful thing for two people who are committed to loving one another and are willing to weather the storms as they come, one at a time.

Amber and I have certainly weathered our fair share of the storms. You know, just because I became a pastor, that doesn't automatically mean that either of us is the perfect spouse all the time. There are still moments when one of us will say something stupid, not considering how the other might take it. There are still days when one of us just gets in a bad mood or has a bad day at work. There are times when one will feel strongly one way about something and the other will feel strongly another way. Sometimes we argue over something as insignificant as what to have for dinner, and other times it's something as important as the best way to handle our finances.

A couple years ago, Amber and I went through a stretch of probably six months where it seemed like we just couldn't click. One day, she would be in a bad mood; the next day, it would be me. Hurt feelings, misunderstandings, and arguments abounded. Our fights never turned violent, but something was definitely wrong, and it took several lengthy conversations and lots of prayer to finally come out of our slump.

I'll never forget one conversation we had near the end of that period. We were both tired of the way things had been going, and we'd had it out good that night, both of us laying issues on the table and trying hard to get across to each other why we felt the way we did. Finally, we laid down in the bed and she cuddled up under my arm, and she said to me:
"I don't want you to take this the wrong way, but in a way... I'm kinda happy we've been fighting so much lately."
WHAT?! I don't get it!
"Don't get me wrong. It's not that I want us to be fighting, but... in a way, it's kind of a good thing, because we're working on issues that are important to both of us, and by us fighting about it, that just shows that we both really care!"
I'll never forget that, and I'm so happy because she's right. You know, when it seems like you're fighting a lot, it could be easy to bottle up your feelings and not talk about what's bothering you, but if you let it fester, eventually you'll just explode! It could be just as easy to decide the relationship is just not worth the frustration, and to just walk out, and this is what a lot of people eventually choose to do when it seems like they can't work anything out.

I'm not saying that if you're in a relationship with constant fighting, that everything will always work out fine. People do sometimes grow apart, and it's important to know that both partners are still committed to the relationship. It's pretty hard to work it out with someone who refuses to work it out with you! I'm also definitely not saying that someone should stay in an abusive relationship, because that's not healthy or good for anyone!

But what I am saying is...

Just because it's raining now, that doesn't mean the storm will last forever.

Just because you fight and argue - even if it lasts for a difficult season - that doesn't mean it's not worth it, and it doesn't mean you don't love each other. In fact, it might just be proof that it IS and you DO!

I'm so thankful to have a wife who loves me enough to bicker and fight with me without giving up on me! I know that we both know we're in this for keeps, come rain or shine, for better or for worse - and I wouldn't trade that for anything!

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