I enjoy the outdoors and how it rejuvenates me. And one of the newer hobbies I have taken up is riding a fat tire bike. I have mountain biked for some decades now, but having a mountain bike with 4-inch wide tires is a whole new adventure. I ride with a group of guys and we bomb around out in the woods…trail or no trail.
I can roll over tree limbs and rocks, motor through mud patches or snow, and can climb about anything. And part of the fun is that I ride with guys who really know the sport and have an expertise about them. And being in my fifties now, I set a low bar for myself, and that is simply DO NOT DIE, so I appreciate getting the do’s and don’t’s of how to ride through and in certain conditions.
It has kept injuries for me to a minimum and raised the epic ride factor many times.
Just a few weeks ago, I was riding a gnarly trail with some buddies of mine. We were at the top of a trail system and ready to descend. Before we went down, one proceeded to tell our group what the trail was like and what to watch for. And I appreciate his warnings because the trail was just like he described and it allowed me to anticipate what was coming up with not having a familiarity with that trail.
Marriage: be wise or figure it out on my own
Marriage is similar to my riding. I can either figure things out on my own with my wife, “fly over the handle bars” in my relationship, or choose to listen to those who have “biked” more miles in their marriage and have suggestions to offer to keep from getting seriously injured.
I have been married to my wife for over 28 years but have had to figure out many things on our own. We just did not have a lot of older couples coming alongside early in our marriage to help us navigate the trails ahead of us. And I sure learned a lot, but it many times came through the school of hard knocks.
So, if I may, I would like to offer some suggestions that will add value to your marriage.
It can boil down to this
As I have viewed troubled marriages or have gone through seasons of tension in my own, I have come to realize that there are essentially two pitfalls in marriage that cause 90+% of the strain that couples experience. These perils will rob you of intimacy and oneness,and if eliminated, will lead to unparalleled unity.
How many times has your husband or wife done or said something that rubbed you wrong and you did nothing to reconcile the situation? You either internalized it, or perhaps you played out in your mind what you would or should have said or done. But bottom line, you just let things be. And either because you did not know what to say in response, or you were fearful of making things worse, or you just hate conflict, you never resolved the issue.
This has been one habit that has bit me in the backside too many times.
If this is something you struggle with, I can pretty much guarantee some forward movement by doing the following:
See yourself as the worst of sinners in your marriage. What that means is that I know the inclinations and prideful bents of my own heart and affections better than anyone. I see my own brokenness every day. And that mindset helps to foster humility within me – I need Jesus. Because the truth is that without a proper mindset about myself, there is a very good chance I am going to see my wife as the culprit of the tension and the one in need of change.
But if you see yourself as the “chief of sinners,” then you will also inspect yourself first. And now you are ready to talk to your spouse about an offense. If you go to confront your spouse in an attitude of defensiveness, you have now gone “into the ring” with your gloves on and you are ready to box.
Go in a spirit that shows you are all about reconciliation because that is what the gospel is all about. God reconciling to us.
Your unwillingness to speak to your spouse about some offense is really your declaring with your heart, “I truly do not love you with a passion to see you grow and mature. I would rather just be concerned with protecting myself.”
Every time you do not deal with a conflict you are only reinforcing poor choices in your marriage. And things will only spiral into something worse.
Behind not dealing with conflict, in a close second place is the lack of ability to either give or receive mercy. And both the giving and receiving are vitally important. Dave Harvey says,
Deep, profound differences are the reality of every marriage. It’s not the presence of differences but the absence of mercy that makes them irreconcilable.
There are two aspects of mercy that can go very bad in a hurry. The first is in the granting of mercy. I have gone to my wife to repent of some pretty hurtful statements or attitudes, and we are well on the way to reconciling when she quickly declares that I am forgiven and then she does not bring up the offense again. This spirit is absolutely essential and without it a couple will lose intimacy quickly.
The second aspect is in the receiving of mercy. When my wife has forgiven me for an offense, there have been times that I still continue to carry the weight of the guilt and end up condemning myself for that offense. This attitude also will rob my wife and I of closeness or being one flesh in our relationship. Receiving mercy biblically simply means that mercy triumphs over judgment. Even my own.
As I have viewed my own marriage as well as the marriages of others, there are many fruits that give evidence that something is wrong. But if you trace things back, there is a very good chance that the source of the disunity stems either from an unwillingness to address conflict in a marriage or a poor view of mercy in how it is given or received.
So what about you? Struggling in your marriage? Tired of the status quo? Then take on the boldness that is ours in Jesus Christ and begin to engage your spouse. Because God is about your joy more than you are.