Turn the lights out!

Guest blog post by Jennifer Freudenburg

Project Manager for the Concordia Center for the Family/Family Life Program

 

Recently, I was commiserating with a friend about men.  Why can’t they shut the cabinet doors, put the toilet seat down, shut the drawers and turn out the lights!  I started voicing things that bugged me about my husband and my friend got this quirky little smile on her face and said, “Exactly. Sounds just like my husband.”  We both just began to laugh.  My husband says that someday when he is gone, I’ll miss him being around and not doing all those annoying things.  When he teaches his class on Marriage and the Family, he tells the students that there is one thing that he can guarantee in marriage – disharmony.  Well, isn’t that the truth.  There is no such a thing as a perfect mate. It is a hopeless quest.

Timothy Keller, in his book The Meaning of Marriage, makes this wonderful statement“…most people, when looking for a spouse, are looking for a finished statue when they should be looking for a wonderful block of marble.  Not so you can create the kind of person you want, but rather because you see what kind of person Jesus is making.  When Michelangelo was asked how he carved his magnificent David, his reply is reputed to have been, “I looked inside the marble and just took away the bits that weren’t David.”  When looking for a marriage partner, each must be able to look inside the other and see what God is doing and be excited about being part of the process of liberating the emerging “new you.”” (pp 121-122)

It is so much easier to see the block of marble when a couple has committed to a covenantal marriage relationship instead of just a contractual relationship.  Keller continues in his book, “If you don’t see your mate’s deep flaws and weaknesses and dependencies, you’re not even in the game.”  When partners who come to the marriage table don’t understand what a covenantal relationship is, they don’t have the same type of skin in the game.  It makes it so much easier to want the finished, completed, polished statue and not have the commitment to work and wait and depend on God to do His work.

Author Dave Meurer says it well, “A great marriage is not when the ‘perfect couple’ come together.  It is when an imperfect couple learns to enjoy the differences.”

“So what” if the cabinet doors stay open at our house?  Who says the man has to put the toilet seat down – in some cultures, the women put the toilet seat up when they are finished.  It doesn’t mean I don’t have the right to voice my preferences, but possibly it is just part of the marble that isn’t ever going to be chipped away.  What if that “bit” is just part of who my husband is in his finished form?

Don’t we often deal with our children in a covenantal relationship – performing acts of love, but we treat our marriages as consumer relationships.  We are great at withdrawing love when we don’t “feel” it.  Look at what scripture says about covenant relationships in Jeramiah 34:18.  In the Old Testament, they actually cut a calf in half and the two parties walked between the two parts of the cut calf to signify the importance of the covenant.  That is what God wants for our marriages. 

I can so vividly remember in one of our first parishes, a young couple was engaged and planning their marriage.  It was just days prior to the wedding, and the young woman said to me, ‘I’ve already told my fiancé that if this marriage doesn’t work out, I’m getting the kids.’  I was stunned and wanted to cry all at the same time.  She didn’t get it.  I would have bet on the spot – even before the marriage ceremony was performed, that the marriage was not going to work out.  Was I right?  Yes – a couple of children later, they divorced.  She only stuck her toe in the water and wasn’t even willing to put her whole foot in much less her whole body.  It was only a contractual marriage and not a covenantal marriage relationship.  Covenants aren’t broken and you understand that going into the relationship.  A legal contract these days gets easier and easier to be released from, with fewer and fewer penalties.  But….the results are devastating.

Have you heard the language of the “starter marriage or starter wife”?  One woman was overheard at a wedding saying, “Well, I think the bride will make a nice starter wife.”  Our family was in conversation with a man at an ice cream store one time, and all of our grandchildren were with us. He was telling us his life story, and said, “I had a starter marriage, and now I’m on my second wife.”  My grandchildren looked at me with a look of what did he mean?

God created this master plan for us.  If we choose to deviate, just like choosing to use inferior material on a building (deviating from the master plan), there will be huge consequences to deal with.  We always think we know best and can “get by” with all sorts of things.  Only God knows – He knows how excellent His plan is; He loves us so much; He wants us to follow His plan explicitly – for His sake and ours! 

 

The Concordia Center for the Family and the Family Life Program at Concordia University Ann Arbor, does marriage training with students and helps support the church and the home on the issues of marriage.  Steve Christopher is Director of the Family Life program (stevenchristopher@cuaa.eduand Ben Freudenburg is the Director of the Concordia Center for the Family and professor in Family Studies benfreudenburg@cuaa.edu)

If you would like to become a prayer partner with the Concordia Center for the Family, please contact Jennifer Freudenburg via email: jennifer.freudenburg@cuaa.edu

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