About ten years ago, a newspaper columnist approached me and my wife for an interview concerning marriage. The writer, a friend of my wife, wanted our input on what kind of advice we could give other couples who may just be starting their new life together. My wife and I, having been married for ten years, offered a lot of good material for the column, but thinking back about the experiences and advice we offered has always made me wonder if we may have left out a few important details.
One very important detail we left out of our good marriage recommendations was to not let our spousesí imperfections or interests become our obsessions. Husbands and wives are going to have an array of character differences that may not be so evident during the courtships. For instance, I am a political fanatic who has written over 500 editorials, guest columns, and letters to the editor concerning national and world politics. I have voted in every election since I was eighteen and I have worked for the campaigns of local, state, and national candidates. My wife, on the other hand, canít stand politics.
In my opinion, politics and life are inseparable. To my wife, soccer and life are undividable. Donít get me wrong, I like soccer too. But if there is a presidential debate on at the same time as the MLS Cup Championship Game, Iíll be watching the debate. Granted, Iíll probably be viewing it at a friendís house.
After eighteen years of marriage, I have not really increased my wifeís fondness for politics. In fact, I really havenít wanted to. Marital friction can often be the result of one spouse insisting that the partner share the same interests, habits, or abilities as the other. I have one friend who actually becomes angry when he discusses the board game of chess with his wife because she shows no interest in learning how to play. I have another friend who becomes visibly upset when he talks about his wifeís inability to parallel-park her car.
In marriage, it is always good to visualize the Bibleís promise of eternal rewards as present marital ones. Let me explain: Matthew 23:12 (NIV) tells us that, ďFor whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.Ē When one spouse harps on the otherís idiosyncrasies, inabilities, or interests it can become a form of the exalting Jesus has warned us about. Now, Iím not saying that if your wife or husband enjoys jaywalking across busy intersections that you just ignore such behavior. Obviously, self-destructive behavior should be confronted in a loving and concerned manner.
Marriage is a difficult venture. Some people marry without thinking about the long term commitment to the dual existence being entered into. And some people learn as the marriage progresses, eventually understanding the importance of mutual respect for their partnersí dissimilarities.
Proverbs 17:9 (NIV) offers, ďHe who covers over an offense promotes love.Ē Are you promoting love in your marriage or listing off offenses?