Monday, March 18, 2013

Want to save your marriage? Follow the direction of the Lord.

         Every year across the East Coast, 100s of Civil war buffs get together and put on mock battles. They form military regiments modeled after forces of by-gone days and have artillery and cavalry units as well as foot soldiers. They even don uniforms that solders of the North and South would have worn back then.
A couple of years ago, one such group was replaying the Battle of Hanover (it’s a town that influenced the outcome of the Battle of Gettysburg). The Southern forces under General J.E.B. Stuart had attacked a federal cavalry unit driving it back through the streets of Hanover. But Union reinforcements arrived just in the nick of time and Stuart was driven back and nearly captured.
Well, during the reenactment, it was a hot sweltering day. The civil war buffs were sweating as they maneuvered into position for battle. They faced delays and the usual frustrations involved in setting up such a display. One of the ‘rebels’ however got so tired, hot, and frustrated that he literally threw in the towel and headed for the refreshment tent. As he tugged off his wool uniform, he was heard to grumble, “I quit. We’re not going to win anyway!”
And, of course, he was right. At best, the Battle of Hanover was a draw. But it contributed to the Confederate loss at Gettysburg. So here was this civil war buff who knows how everything is going to turn out. He’s tired. He’s hot. He’s discouraged. He knows his side isn’t going to win anyway, so he quits.
In the course of counseling many couples who are dealing with marriage problems I find the same thing. One or both of the parties involved give up because they are convinced they know how things are going to turn out. So, why bother? They are convinced that no matter how hard they try, no matter what they do, it’s just not going to work out. It’s going to end in divorce so why even try?
Some arrive at this conclusion early on, others over time. All they know is that there marriage is filled with problems. They argue all the time. At best they are civil to each other like two strangers living under the same roof. At other times, they live in open hostility. Sometimes serious attempts are made to make things better. Counselors are seen, advice sought from family members and friends – yet nothing seems to work. Divorce seems like the only solution.
          What is often overlooked is the real problem, the one that lies at the heart of every failing and broken marriage. It is sin. Sin takes marriage, a blessing from God, and ruins it. It may be an act of unfaithfulness or just doing things that are contrary to God’s will for those who are married. So often, our focus is on the problems of our spouse instead of working on our own. We fail to seek the advice and guidance of the Lord. We refuse to say we are sorry and ask for forgiveness. God says put away anger, sinful pride, impatience, selfishness, etc. We are to live with Christian love, patience, forgiveness, kindness, humility, etc. Serve each other. Love your spouse as Christ loves you. Forgive as you are forgiven. It’s easy. But with the Lord’s help it will work out. Don’t give up.