The human psyche is a strange critter. From time to time I’ve heard of a surviving spouse honestly and somewhat bitterly admit that a deceased spouse was selfish or that they didn’t miss them. From the outside looking in those 40-50-60-year marriages seemed pretty solid. Then we find out things weren’t what they appeared. When Oprah Winfrey heard that the national divorce rate was around 50%, her question was,” What shape are the other 50% in?”
Single humans drag their suitcases and baggage into a marriage and hope to pack it all into the blender of life and come out with something called marriage. Some make it; some don’t. God grudgingly allowed divorce for some limited situations. Humans took advantage of and expanded the process.
I’ve met other surviving spouses who have hidden the human flaws in their marriages and work hard to reinvent what it was really like and speak glowingly of their life partners as if they were saints. It often seems they have reimagined the former relationship into something they can live with in a widowed state. The thought of having others know your marriage was human and flawed is just about unbearable after often many decades of living together.
God designed marriage. He expected it to be built on service and sacrifice to one another. Too often one or both get in a selfish rut and the ya ya starts. Soon there is no joy, no fun, only bitterness and criticism. Couples then have to decide. In the old days women had fewer options and often felt limited or trapped. As economic changes occurred women found greater opportunities and could choose to opt out.
Seems like anything, including marriage, touched by humans has a tendency to mess up. The challenge for the 50% of us old timers or the 60% of second marriages is how hard headed and determined we are to make the marriage work. How much forgiveness and how much serving the partner can we do, even when we don’t feel loved or even liked at times. We don’t have to stand for abuse. We do need to try and build a relationship founded on trust and mutual respect. It’s easier to quit; it’s harder to stay in the bad times. The key is will the hard times draw us closer together or tear us apart. Let’s pray partners can overlook one more time sins of omission or commission that cut you deep. Let’s pray your memories of marriage will be sweet and true.
By Dr. Juan Harrison