The natural tendency of everything in life is to move from order to disorder. At some point during the formal education of most Americans, the concept of entropy was taught and learned. Everything in your life that is not protected and nurtured will deteriorate. This includes your car, your house, and your clothes. Therefore, if you want to see any area of your life deteriorate, just do nothing.
This is particularly true in marriage. It is so easy for a man to drift slowly away from his spouse and not realize it.
Ned Holstein is the executive director of National Parents Organization. Until 2013, this nonprofit was known as Fathers and Families. Holstein says, “Most men think that they are safe because they are good husbands, fathers, and providers. But most divorces are sought by women, and many men have no idea that a divorce is coming.”
For you men reading this blog, you need to ask yourself, “Could this possibly be happening in my marriage?”
What I have repeatedly seen is that many men neglect their wives and are not even aware of it. Wives handle this neglect in one of two ways. Many of them will confront it, often out of anger and frustration, but at least their husbands know that all is not well. Others respond by saying nothing. They might hint at their dissatisfaction, but their husbands don’t get it. During this process, their marriage slowly dies, and the husband only becomes aware of it when she files for divorce. Unfortunately, this pattern repeats itself over and over again.
So how do we find true happiness in our marriages? Tim Keller offers some interesting insight into this:
The Bible says that human beings were made in God’s image. That means, among other things, that we were created to worship and live for God’s glory, not our own. We were made to serve God and others. That means paradoxically that if we try to put our own happiness ahead of obedience to God, we violate our own nature and become, ultimately, miserable. Jesus restates the principle when he says, “Whoever wants to save his life shall lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 16:25) He is saying, “If you seek happiness more than you seek me, you will have neither; if you seek to serve me more than you serve your own quest for happiness, you will have both.”
Paul applies this principle to marriage. Seek to serve one another than to be happy, and you will find a new and deeper happiness. Many couples have discovered this wonderful, unlooked-for reality. Why would this be true? It is because it is “instituted of God.” It was established by the God for whom self-giving love is an essential attribute, and therefore it reflects His nature, particularly as it is revealed in the Person and work of Jesus Christ.
C. S. Lewis believes this to be one of the most significant universal principles in all of life: “Give up yourself and you will find your real self.”
Finally, I would guess that most of you reading this blog are married. And if you have been married for much time at all, you have experienced its peaks and valleys.
I want to close with a word to you who might be struggling in your marriage relationship. I hope you will see it as both an opportunity for spiritual growth and for you marriage to grow. Life’s struggles always make us stronger, but the degree that we improve is dependent on how we respond to the struggle. For this reason, whenever I meet with people who find their marriage to be in real trouble, I share with them these words from Philip Yancey.
Every marriage has crisis times, moments of truth when one partner (or both) is tempted to give up, to judge the other as undependable, irrational, non-trustworthy. Great marriages survive these moments; weak ones fall apart. When divorce happens, tragically, both partners lose out on the deeper strength that comes only from riding out such stormy times together.
Great relationships take form when they are stretched to the breaking point and do not break.
Article originally published on Richard E Simmons 3 May 26 2015.