“Mawidge. It’s what bwings us togedar today.” The Archdean began. “Mawidge is a dweam wifin a dweam… and wuv, true wuv..,”
Buttercup would rather die than be united in marriage to the vile Prince Humperdinck at her side. Unlike her scenario, many women go blithely into marriage, unprepared, with visions of “wuv, true wuv.” They expect a fairy tale ever after. Then reality happens.
Modern school attempts to prepare our young people for life. Reading, Mathematics, technology, a dabbling of science, philosophy. The hope is they will grow up to become productive, tax paying members of society with enough of an income to help grow the economy. What most educations do not prepare them for are the two most important aspects of their lives: marriage and children.
So, what do you tell that glowering young couple that just months ago stood at the altar pledging “I do” ‘till death does them part, when it is life that is tearing them apart?
She points out bitterly, “If he loved me, he wouldn’t…” and off she goes on this tangent of the callous, self-centered behaviors he has been exhibiting. Not helping around the house, playing computer games all day long, going out with his pals and leaving her alone with a meal she worked hard to make and not even a call saying he would be late. “I love him, but he’s such a jerk!”
He shakes his head, amazed at the difference between this woman and the sweet girl he thought he married. This lady does nothing but criticize. If he washes the dishes they aren’t done right, he can’t drive straight, his opinions are stupid. If he’s late or forgets to call, he gets the cold shoulder for days. Can you blame him for wanting to escape? “I love her, but really! There’s only so much a guy can take!”
“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
I Corinthians 13:4-7 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
In a society where a happy marriage is a rarity, I get the feeling the meaning of true love has evaded us. Over one third of young people have grown up in divorced homes, forty percent of children are born to unwed mothers, and twenty-five percent of children eighteen and younger are being raised without a father. Is it any wonder the trend to not commit is growing? Is it any wonder why, among those willing to commit to marriage, few have the tools or skills in place to make marriage succeed? Once the excitement of the dating infatuation has settled down and they realize they married an actual, less than perfect person, bitterness, anger, and confusion often replace the warm fuzzies of earlier days.
So, what can be done to ensure that love—true love, keeps them together? Or if you are one of those who are in the struggle already, what can be done to mend the gap? (Remember, if there is life, there is hope. “There is a big difference between dead and mostly dead.”)
I think I have the best marriage. Ever. “Let me ‘splain” how it got there. It didn’t just happen. It wasn’t always easy. It didn’t happen overnight. Love in marriage is a sort of miracle. “You rush a miracle, man, you get rotten miracles.”
Here’s a big clue and it comes straight from the Bible. Ephesians 5:33 says, “Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”
Wives respect your husbands. Husbands love your wives. Strange, both these commands are not what come naturally. Women love easier than they respect. Men respect easier than they love. But women NEED to be loved. They need it like they need air. And chocolate. If we have a bad day and are acting particularly nasty, we don’t consider that on o.k. excuse for our husband to stop loving us. We NEED to know our husband loves us—no matter what.
So why do we have such a hard time with the respect thing? Over and over I hear, “He is so immature” He is so this, or the other. “He doesn’t deserve my respect.” And that is the reason for not giving it. Our husbands NEED our respect. Like he needs air. Like he needs food.
Dr. Eggerichs’ book Love and Respect describes the downward spiral so commonly expressed in our homes. Husband does something (usually not intentionally) which makes wife feel unloved. She reacts by vocalizing disrespect, he reacts by being unloving, she reacts with less respect, he reacts… Get the picture? Round one, two, three. A regular emotional boxing match.
Who wants to break the vicious cycle?
My challenge to you ladies: Start treating your man like he is a VIP. Look for ways to show him respect. Bite your tongue, be patient. Defend him in front of your friends. Build him up. Treat him with respect EVEN WHEN HE DOESN’T DESERVE IT. Forgive, believe the best. If you expect him to be perfect, remember there was only one perfect person that ever lived. And he never married. Also, remember miracles can’t be rushed, but miracles do happen. Wait. Watch the miracle of love growing again.
My challenge to you men: Look for ways to show your wife you love her. Be warned—at first she may not trust your intent. Pursue her anyway. When You feel criticized, bite your tongue and be patient. Be kind. Look for the good. Love her EVEN WHEN SHE DOESN’T DESERVE IT. Love her as Christ loves his sinful, not always lovely bride—the church.
So, avoid the cliffs of insanity. Tumble down the hillside and head together through the Fire-swamps of life. Hold each other close, whispering, “As you wish.”
And then be a good example and teach it to your children. Miracles happen, and the future is looking good.
Credit quotes: The Princess Bride by William Goldman