Weddings can be a timely reminder that viewing spouses through God's lens can go a long way in making marriages happy and durable.
Summertime is the season of weddings; a roller-coaster of bridal showers, rehearsal dinners and wedding ceremonies. For those deeply invested in these glorious occasions, it also elicits a wealth of emotions. Brides-to-be and their mothers find out what panic attacks really are. Fathers-of-the-Bride grapple with the reality that they will no longer be their daughter's "first-stop" counselor on issues they prided themselves being experts on.
The loneliness that seeps into a home on the heels of a child's marriage, whether that child was living at home before marrying or not, is awful. Children will come back and visit, but it will be with spouses who have pre-emptive needs and desires. Of course, this barely tolerable situation for parents is mitigated by the future promise of grandchildren.
Of these things I am sure, because my daughter is getting married this month.
(Photo: Alex and Hannah, soon-to-be-married)
At her bridal shower recently, I found myself brain-dead when asked to jot down a "word of wisdom" for the bride in a little notebook being passed around. I kicked myself later. It's not that we hadn't had many "mother-daughter" talks about marriage, discussions that included the importance of marriage being Christ-centered and all that, but still, I thought, "How could I not have come up with something to write in that book for her?"
A few hours later, alone in my car, the pre-wedding fog in my mind parted—ever so briefly—to reveal a visual banner that read: Never Compromise Who You Are by Conforming to What Others Want You to Be. Convinced it was divinely inspired, I shared it with my daughter who initially read into it all the things it was not intended to mean.
So, dear reader, I will clarify the phrase with you as well.
She thought it was some feminist manifesto, "I am Woman, Hear Me Roar" type of thing. Hardly the case, I told her. The adage works both ways; it applies to men and women. Then, she thought it I meant it as a blanket excuse for any kind of addiction, perversion or other besetting sin in a spouse. No, again; nor does the statement include the person of Jesus Christ, with whom we want to be conformed to.
Simply put, "who you are" is who—at your core—God wants you, and me, to be. Our "identity" includes all the unique qualities that make up our personalities; the positive, and even neutral, characteristics we were born with.
Obviously, some personality traits can be irritating or annoying to others. It's sad how trivial some of them really are, such as the way someone talks or laughs, or the music they like to listen to, or the fact that they absolutely love animals or sports or old movies, etc. Again, I'm not talking about extremes (i.e. the husband who ignores his wife every football season or the wife who favors pets over her husband). I'm referring to harmless personal attributes, innocent likes and dislikes, mannerisms that have nothing to do with one's core character.
It's one thing to expect a spouse to change a truly bad habit that is adversely affecting a relationship. It's entirely another to try to change someone else's identity. I've seen far too many marriages implode because of it.
For example, berating a spouse who plods along in life more slowly than you would prefer is like trying to make an Arabian racehorse out of a Clydesdale. Clydesdales are beautiful as they are and function exactly as they were meant to. Conversely, constantly chiding an effusive, outgoing partner in the hope of changing them into an emotionless slug will only serve to suffocate them. Far better to be appreciative, respectful and, yes, even long-suffering with loved ones whose minor quirks and idiosyncrasies drive us half-mad sometimes. After all, treating others as they would treat us benefits all involved, does it not?
It may be easier said than done, but weddings can be a timely reminder that viewing spouses through God's lens can go a long way in making marriages happy and durable.
Source: Teresa Neumann's Blog