Some marriages fail due to a simple disorientation. If the couple had only had an understanding of this concept, the duo would have survived. Here it is: they look too closely at each other. Unbeknownst to many, marriage is far more a spectator sport! You observe what IS, and you adapt. That’s the recipe for success.
When one or both persons in the marriage are constantly taking the temperature of that marriage, it is doomed to fail. Some spouses process private mental questions over and over again of “Why isn’t my spouse doing better? or better yet, “...CHANGING for the better? or, “... fulfilling me better?” This puts the marriage under a relentless microscope that is a quiet (and sometimes not so quiet) micro-analysis.
Square yourself with the fact that no human being can sustain and fulfill another human being’s infinite longings for attentiveness. Harboring unbridled expectations of another human being is the shortest route to an emotional crash one could possibly employ. Tight marriage scrutiny sucks the life out of a marriage.
A controlling spirit will eventually lose what it craves. The controlled spouse will slip away quietly (i.e. be physically in the same room with you while their heart is far away) or leave with a loud crash (as in, divorce.)
Yes, we all HAVE unbridled expectations of a prince-charming coming to “save us” and “take us away” and “love us consummately”—because God put those infinite longings there in our hearts for Him alone to fulfill to the uttermost. The marriage relationship is a totally different deal. It was established to get us OUT of ourselves, to love another. This specific relationship was meant, not for receiving, but for giving. We ride off into the sunset with only one perfect lover: Christ.
When you give your spouse space to be who he/she REALLY is, right there in front of you, you gain wonderful things. For one thing, your spouse doesn’t go underground, living his/her real life somewhere else or in some other way. He/she feels comfortable in all ways in your presence. You also begin to be enriched by what God did in making that someone else so completely different from yourself in every way—i.e. background, wiring, gender, etc.
Also, you can appreciate that you get a 24/7 front row seat on the development of another human being. Via that seat, you gain an understanding of how complex and intriguing all of humanity is—far from your high school narrow view of reality. As a result, you begin to grow and grow and grow in relational maturity. It just happens upon you, over you and around you, when you don’t even realize it is going on. This kind of personal growth is one of God’s most fantastic slow-motion miracles, taking years and years.
Become a good spectator. Appreciate. Encourage. Seek for ways to delight your spouse, and (outside of breaking one of the Ten Commandments) whatever they do, they do. This doesn’t mean there won’t be tough conversations and good communication, but wresting changed behavior from each other never works. We can only ever really change ourselves. Determine to personally put yourself under that wished for progressive improvement. Strive to pray, to be, and to do all you can to build that marriage.
(For another short bit of marriage tips, see the current issue #97 of Above Rubies.)