Recently, Bob and I were talking back and forth, and he mentioned a glitch he and his wife were having in their marriage. It was a communication issue, a misunderstanding they'd had in the middle of everyday conversation. There's no need here to go into the details of their He Said/She Said. It boiled down to this: husband couldn't relate to wife's perspective, wife couldn't relate to husband's, and both were approaching things from completely different angles. Things escalated from there, he said.
Bob and I talked for a while about all this, both of us amazed and frustrated at the relationship wrinkles that keep popping up in a marriage. Forty years after I do, he was still trying to find answers for the "hows" of his vows.
Will we go to our graves trying to iron out the same old issues?
I thought about my relationship with my wife Jane and how, nearly thirty years into our marriage, we have several recurring problem areas of our own. Little things, usually, where the wires get crossed between us. One of us gets too sensitive about something while the other isn't sensitive enough. Or somebody's under pressure at work and takes the stress home with them. Or we disagree about a parenting issue.
But by this time Bob was mentioning another family he knew, so I listened in. He told me the family was in the middle of a crisis, and as he shared more details my crossed marital wires seemed miniscule by comparison. Bob went on to tell me that observing the other family's difficult circumstances had given him new perspective on his own marriage. Rather than focusing on the trivial issues that hadn't yet been resolved, he'd decided to be grateful for what he already had.
His wife loved him, even though he couldn't keep their marriage as ordered as his wardrobe. They'd built a family and a life with each other, passing milestone after milestone.
Although Bob and his wife hadn't mastered everything yet, they'd gotten better together. With time, they could get better still. As I sat there and listened to Bob's outlook, I knew it was wise and right. He wasn't settling for the status quo, but he was willing to accept that relationships don't come wrinkle-free. Giving his best effort to marriage, he was choosing to be thankful and committed. He was a better version of himself in a better version of his marriage, working on the same old issues with the same love of his life, decades and decades later.
If there's a cycle that should be repeated, that's got to be it.
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