Marti entered marriage with an enormous burden — a previously failed relationship (not marital) that had included sexual activity and a gut-wrenching breakup. As a result, she struggled with feelings of insecurity, even after she and her husband were married. She just couldn’t get over the perception that “conflict leads to breakup, and breakup leads to intense pain.”
After several years of marriage, Marti and her husband started fighting over financial problems. Weeks of vigorous discussion and occasional bouts of yelling ensued, but no conclusions were drawn. The dispute became so acute that the marital relationship started showing the strain. There was little joy — just angst and frustration.
Marti subconsciously slipped back into feelings that were born out of her earlier failed relationship. Because she still hurt over the dissolution of that bond, she experienced acute anxiety over whether her marriage could survive this challenge. In her past, unresolved issues meant an inevitable breakup, so she secretly began mourning a relationship that had not yet died.
Then one night, after yet another vigorous and ultimately unresolved discussion, Marti’s husband did something so wonderfully prophetic and profound that Marti will never forget it as long as she lives. You could see the joy of her husband’s tender care reflected in her eyes as she told the story: “He wrapped his arms around me and said, ‘Marti, you need to know that no matter what we decide or don’t decide, I’m never going to quit on this marriage. Even if we have to live with this tension for the rest of our lives, I will never leave you.’ ”
Marti burst into tears as she shared this story. Even though there was nearly constant contention in her marriage, she didn’t want this relationship to end, and now her husband had promised it wouldn’t.
I was recently working through answering the title question of this blog post again in a counseling session and this quote greatly challenged me:
WE PROCLAIM THE PROPHETIC GRACE OF MARRIAGE WHEN WE UNDERSTAND THE SACREDNESS OF BUILDING A HISTORY TOGETHER…
Around which world is your life centered? Your marriage will ultimately reveal the answer to that question. If we have an eternal outlook, preparing for eternity by sticking with a difficult marriage makes much more sense than destroying a family to gain quick and easy relief.
Most divorces are marked by the actions of someone running from, at most, a few difficult decades — and for this relief, people are throwing away glory and honor that last for eternity. It’s a horrible trade! (I’m not speaking here to those of you whose spouses have compromised your union through abuse, affairs, and addictions.)
The holiness that will be rewarded in heaven is a persistent holiness. Read through the entire Bible, and I promise you that you won’t find one reference to a crown in heaven that goes to the person who had the happiest life on earth. That reward just doesn’t exist. Nor is there a heavenly ribbon for the Christian who felt the least amount of pain.
The priority of a sacred history is an eternal priority. Marriage is a beautiful and effective reminder of this reality. One of the most poetic lines in Scripture, one I wish every husband and wife would display in a prominent place in their home, is found in 2 Thessalonians 3:5: “And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ.”
God’s love and Christ’s perseverance — there’s the Bible’s best recipe for holiness and a successful life here on earth. Oh, that our hearts could be directed into more and more of God’s love! Oh, that we could learn the patient perseverance of Christ himself!
PERSISTENCE DOESN’T MAKE SENSE UNLESS WE LIVE WITH A KEEN SENSE OF ETERNITY.
Whatever you do; don’t choose to bail. There is sacred history in which your marriage, with all of its flaws and shortcomings, plays a redemptive part through Christ’s persevering example and enabling.