It’s tempting to compare our sweetheart to someone else and wish, “If only he/she were more like that….” Comparisons, when we’re dating, are useful in helping us define and narrow down what we’re seeking in a marriage partner, because we can break up with those who are unsatisfactory. But after the wedding day, we have to figure out how to love and live with the spouse, even when it’s unsatisfying.
It’s a very different mindset, requiring a strategy that’s very different from our dating days. “If only he/she were more like that” needs to become “How can I help my beloved become more fully the person that God designed him/her to be – without becoming a nag?”
This is where role models are useful. What successfully married couples do you know? Hang around them, make friends with them, observe them, ask them to be your mentors. But don’t compare your marriage to theirs. Learn from them, share your questions and struggles with them, and realize that you and your beloved are uniquely designed for a relationship that is like none other.
It’s absolutely essential in today’s world, with all of its counter-Christian, anti-marriage influences, that we have friends who are in marriages that are long-lasting, Christ-centered and successful at overcoming the kinds of problems that lead others to divorce. If my beloved Ralph and I had never been married long enough to understand why some people get divorced, we could not now be providing retreats on the vocation of marriage nor write these Reflections for Couples.
The only good comparison to make after the wedding day is the work of comparing our marriage to what we’re capable of as a couple. This involves seeing our beloved’s good qualities even when he/she is exhibiting a very different behavior. It is developed further by being able to envision a future that we both want to reach. And we make progress on the road to that future by doing it with Christ, empowered by his Holy Spirit, with joy in believing that the best is yet to come but today has goodness in it, too.
- Who do we know anyone who’s a good role model for marriage?
- What do I want to work on in myself to become more like the spouse God designed me to be?
Strengthen your relationship:
Plan together a strategy for spending time in friendship with at least one married couple that you both admire. Pray together for the building up of that friendship and others like it.
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© 2017 by Terry Modica of Good News Ministries
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