Most couples start off madly “in love” where they only see the good in each other, right? I know we did. I don’t think anyone becomes a couple with the idea they will break up one day. I know we professed our undying love for each other and I know we vowed to love one another until death do us part. So what happened? Why did we divorce? We don’t think we are the exception to the rule. We think what happened to us, happens to so many others. A general once said, “The only way to win a war is to prevent a war.” And that is true in marriages: the only way to not divorce (or break up) is to prevent a divorce! Again, I highly recommend Dr. Ed Wheat’s book, Love Life for Every Married Couple how to fall in love, stay in love, rekindle your love to EVERY couple, married or not, to every person who wants to marry and to those anyone in the middle of breaking up! We were sorry we did not read it before we were married, but it had not yet been written!
So what went wrong? At the time, I used the excuse, “we grew apart.” What does that mean and how does it happen? For one, it means that you let your marriage die, you let other people and things take the place of your spouse. For me, I know my job became a huge distraction and barrier in our marriage. I know that was where a lot of that “growing apart” started.
I know another area that harmed our relationship was my female colleagues and I would get together over lunch and “male bash” our spouses! What is with that? Why tear down your mate to others? What did we hope to accomplish? Make life better for everyone? Well, I guess when they say, “misery loves company” it applies to spousal bashing. I do know men do it as much if not more than women when they get together! Or is it about equal? The man I am married to today is the same man I used to bash, tear down, and think poorly of – but NO MORE! OK, common sense says, if you say you don’t like something long enough, you are going to not like that something. I know this is true because I began to dislike my husband! I saw every fault, every weakness, every undesirable trait real or imagined! So no wonder we grew apart! I was going the wrong way!
Money problems are also a huge issue in marriages, but somehow, that did not initially drive a wedge between us. Why? Bill just totally trusted me with the money! So how could we fight? That is until he saw the check book one time and I had some numbers in red. “What’s that mean?” he asked. “Oh, don’t worry, my paycheck will be deposited tomorrow and all these checks will be covered!” I had been a bank teller while in college and learned about the three-day “float.” That was back in the old days – money is now moved electronically and I don’t recommend taking any chances. Bill decided he could not trust me after that so he began to keep his own stash of money (he was running a cash business at the time). So do you think this could put a wedge between us? The lack of trust is a sure-fire way to douse your romantic embers!
However, we were blessed financially in that we both had the ability to earn a descent living. So combined, we should have been rolling in dough, as they used to say (this blog is making me feel old as I seem to only recall the old sayings!) But Bill discovered we were virtually living pay check to pay check! Did you know there are more scriptures in the Bible about money than any other one topic? So that tells me that talking about money is very important! While we were not really driven to earn money for the sake of earning it, we just wanted to live comfortably. We never felt we were guilty of
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” 1 Timothy 6:10
But we hoarded our money! We just tried to hold onto it and felt we could not really spare to give any way. I don’t think we were perceived as being selfish, we just did not make it a habit to share what we thought we did not have! We never knew about the theory of reciprocity which again has roots in the Bible.
Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Luke 6:38
When we remarried, we became members of a church – the first time as a couple. We still recall the very first Sunday School lesson that really convicted us and helps us to become faithful to whatever church we felt God planted us in! Pastor Gentner was teaching us on what type of Christians were we, “grasshoppers” or…oh no, I can’t remember anything else! But we knew we did not want to be grasshoppers and we settled into a wonderful Bible teaching and preaching church (Laurel Hill Bible Church in New Jersey). When we moved to Virginia, we felt led to Ferry Farm Baptist Church and in our last move, New Covenant Presbyterian Church, PCA in Florida. The next thing we learned was the importance and value of tithing! There are so many scriptures about tithing that come from the Old Testament and talk about old terminology, I don’t want to quote anything at this point (feel free to add some scriptures in the comment section) but suffice it to say, we felt from what we learned in the New Testament, that the Lord should lead you to give what you can. When we divorced, we had lost our wealth and started from scratch. Bill also decided to go to college and not work while he would also take care of Jessica rather than have her in day care. We had to learn to budget and we counted every penny! We decided we would just start with the 10% and took it off the top, then lived on whatever was left over. As time went on, we felt led to give to others, beside our church, in addition to that 10%. Eventually, I began to use Quicken to manage our finances and saw I could make a pie chart of how we spent our money and I loved to see our tithing and charitable giving part grow bigger each year. Can you guess what happened? The more we gave the more we seemed to have! I just love it!
“The grass is always greener on the other side” was a saying we grew up hearing. Is it ever said anymore? I think it is holds true. The Bible warns us to not covet….you know, your neighbor’s house, wife (or spouse) or anything your neighbor owns (The 10th Commandment as located in Exodus 10:17 and Deuteronomy 5:21). Why? It makes us not like what we have and want what we see! I want to reinforce that what the Bible teaches us about every day living, finances and also teaching us about relationships! There are such simple concepts, like the Golden Rule (is that still taught?) which is contained specifically in two scriptures in the New Testament (Matthew 7:12 and Luke 6:31) but also is found in Old Testament scripture Leviticus 19:18. The bottom line is that longing for what others have only makes you NOT want what you have!
In one marriage class we took, they talked about how couples sweep things under the carpet, such as your resentments and/or unresolved issues. Bill hates confrontations and never wanted to fight – so we just swept things under the carpet! For those who know us, we moved a lot – now you may know why! There was too much dirt we had to move! (LOL) What a shock when we finally turned to the Bible to set our marriage straight (and that was after we read Dr. Wheat’s book – which squarely puts all love life into Biblical context) and discovered –
In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry….” Ephesians 4:26
What happens when you take your anger or resentments to bed with you? That was our revelation – when you go to bed angry, how is your love life? Talk about growing apart?
Bill’s favorite scriptures and really the thing that set our love life back on track, in addition to all of the above, were –
Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure…” Hebrews 13:4
The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband.” 1 Corinthians 7:3
Next up: Chapter 7 – RX for the BEST marriage