There’s an old saying that goes “Marriage is a wonderful institution, but who wants to live in an institution?” It’s a little harsh, but a valid question. These days our society sees very little merit in getting married. Only, the research tells us that married people have significantly lower mortality rates, higher financial status and overall better mental health than unmarried people. So why are married people so miserable? It was always God’s intention that we enjoy marriage, but unfortunately, the world has painted such a distorted picture that people avoid it. God never designed us to live alone or with pain. It’s ironic that we spend years of our life studying for our professions, but very little skills for living with our partner for life – the person we will ultimately share our hopes, dreams, fears, and possibly children with. That’s where we go wrong. We assume that once we walk down the aisle and say our vows, we can sit back, relax and enjoy the journey. But in order to stay married it involves effort. Dedication. Perseverance. Humility. Because, well –people. Basically, you take two selfish humans, put them in the same house and somehow, they must learn to live together. Add children and it’s no wonder couples grow apart.
Have you heard of the term ‘Tying the knot’? It refers to a custom, whereby a bride and groom were tied together by the ‘binding of hands’ during the wedding ceremony, which signified their bond. This practise has actually become a massive trend in recent times. The wedding ceremony has become all about ‘tying the knot’, but marriage is actually about tightening the knot. In order to thrive in your marriage, you must tighten the bond you committed to in the first place.
So how do we tighten that knot?
Don’t go to bed angry.
Ephesians 4:26 says “Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,27 and do not give the devil a foothold.” We give the enemy authority in our marriage when don’t deal with our issues. It’s important to let your spouse know whatever is bothering you. Half the time, they probably won’t even know it’s an issue until you’ve raised it. It will be hard. At times it will require forgiveness. It will be confronting. Possibly awkward and uncomfortable. But worth it. By the way, it’s important to calm down before you approach your partner. No good comes from raging hormones and a rapid heart rate. If you have to sleep, do it. Just don’t give in to the lie that sleeping elsewhere (ie the couch) is necessary to make your point. Go to bed and deal with it in the morning. If possible, at all costs – do your best to confront the issue before you go to bed.
Remember that over the fence isn’t better
We’ve all heard the saying the ‘grass is greener on the other side’, but the truth is the grass is greener where you water it. Social media is incredibly misleading.Picture this perfect couple. Clara and Justin seem to have the perfect life – an amazing house in an idyllic suburb, lucrative and fulfilling careers, three gorgeous kids. Their Instagram account is filled with images of their fun overseas holidays, dates at lavish restaurants, restoration of their gorgeous farmhouse, impeccably dressed kids – to the outside world, it appears like Clara and Justin are living the dream. On the other side of the screen, Justin, spends most of his time on his work phone organising emails and ‘running the business’, while Clara is left emotionally neglected and carrying the weight of raising the kids alone. Both Clara and Justin invest heavily on their social media account to appear ‘normal’. The truth is, their family is anything but normal. We must remember that social media is most people’s ‘highlights’ and not reality. Don’t get caught up comparing your relationships with others. Choose to see the best in your partner. Joel Osteen says that ‘You have 80% of what your spouse needs’. That person you married? They will never have everything that you need. Stop trying to make your spouse someone else and accept what they do have – 80% of what you actually need.
Actually spend time together.
Remember when you went on dates before you got married? Once upon a time, you made an effort to go out with your boyfriend/girlfriend. You probably even wore makeup. Brushed your hair. Teeth. Now you prefer to settle in for the night with the Smiths chips, trackies, Ugg boots and Netflix. No judgement here. But in order for any marriage to keep that spark and constant communication, couples need to spend quality time alone together without the television, phone or kids. Quality time means your spouse needs you to be ‘present ‘ – not thinking about the AFL scores, work or kids errands. Try going on holidays without the kids, get a lock on your bedroom door (if necessary), schedule weekly dates – do whatever it takes to get to know your partner on a deeper level.
At the end of the day – love is a choice. You can tempt yourself into believing that ‘so and so’ would be such a better spouse, or kid yourself into thinking you’ve fallen out of love and effectively find someone else, but you’d be living a delusion. Marriage shouldn’t be watered down to feelings. Marriage is a commitment. It takes work. Energy. Time. God designed it to be fun, not miserable. Commit to tightening the knot of your marriage today.