When I was preparing to speak on the topic of marriage recently, I searched for the right image to portray common difficulties and the need to develop a lifestyle of forgiveness, healthy communication and showing love towards one another in practical ways that can be felt. Then this image of the wall came to mind.
This scenario often happens in marriage: The wife feels misunderstood by her husband, so she lays down a brick between them. The husband thinks she doesn’t show him respect, so he lays down a brick. She tries to pour out her heart to him, but he is headed out the door and doesn’t have time. Another brick. Burnt toast in the morning, another brick in the wall. Sometimes a wall is erected overnight when there is major trauma in a marriage, such as abuse or an affair. But there may be a small window left through which the two of them communicate civilly day in and day out. An occasional arrow is shot through the small opening, but the two of them continue to go through the motions of life on each side. They may even pray and serve others in many ways. The veneer of relationship remains while they deny or minimize the presence of the wall which stands between them.
Enter God’s plan for marriage. There is no relationship like it on earth, that is why the battle rages hot and strong to ruin this powerful, precious, most intimate of all earthly relationships. It is meant to represent the relationship between Christ and His church, providing a loving model for generations. When a couple settles for a marriage that is barely alive, then the damage reaches far beyond the hollowness of their own lives. Many people don’t believe they can find that place of closeness and love again. Like a driver who keeps running into trees and gets a new car thinking that will solve the problem, people often leave a relationship when difficulties arise only to run into the same problems again. Problems in relationships don’t solve themselves, healthy relationships can be learned.
Love is wasted on saints, love was meant for sinners (Mike Mason, “The Mystery of Marriage”). Marriage puts two people in the vice grip of love where feelings alone are not enough. The need for unconditional love, God’s love is apparent. “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” (1 Cor. 13:4-6)
Do you sense a wall in your relationship?
Here are a few ways to tear down the wall and build a stronger marriage:
- Grow in forgiveness
- Learn to respond instead of react
- Choose “we” over “me” when making decisions
- Create boundaries to protect your relationship in place of walls that divide
- Have a date night, coffee, lunch, or whatever works with your schedule
- Talk and pray through issues and concerns periodically, but not on your date!
- Learn the love language of your spouse (gifts, acts of service, words of affirmation, touch, quality time) – Gary Chapman
- Get help and advice from others when needed