Friday, August 24, 2012

Battling the common

Chaucer may have first penned "familiarity breeds contempt," but Solomon alluded to it millennia earlier in his pull-no-punches proverb "Let your foot be seldom in your neighbor's house, lest he have his fill of you and hate you."

And really, any man who has slept beside his bride for more than a week knows the dangers of this viper. Thinking you are immune to taking your spouse for granted you become like the religious snake handlers who overestimate their abilities and underestimate the lethality of their idol (here). I know what you think. I know what you feel. I know how you'll respond. As such, I no longer ask. I no longer plumb the depths of your heart. I no longer engage you and examine you like the amazing creature that you are. To me, you have become common.

Such common treatment fosters bitterness and callused hearts, the very things that fuel this marriage immolation. The one feeds the other which feeds the other and before long, only a heap of ashes remain on the pyre.

But there is hope.

This is the truth of the gospel, the good news, of Jesus Christ. Hearts of stone are turned to hearts of flesh (Ezekiel 11:19, 36:26). The old has past, the new is come (2 Corinthians 5:17). Marriage, which God intends to depict and glorify the great love of Christ for the Church, can be renewed. That which is shattered and tattered can become something more beautiful than on the day it began.

It requires a choice.

In reality, it requires a choice that only the power of the living Christ in you can compel you to make. I forget who said it, but I heard a pastor state "You are never more like God than when you love your enemies." While you might not consider your wife to be your enemy, you may be treating her that way. What if I rephrase it this way: "You are never more like God than when you love those who have hurt you?" Does that open your eyes a bit wider? Petition God to give you strength, and then go and serve.

You know this. God loved us so much that when we were without power, when we could do nothing to restore the shattered relationship between us and him, that's when God the Son took on the mantle of flesh to restore the relationship. God stepped down to bring this healing. Can we do any less in our marriage?

Some little things:
  • Leave her a note. Dry erase on the mirror works like a champ. Post-its in her Bible or in the book she's reading can bless her soul.
  • Hold the door for her. Yes, she does know how to open a door, but such a simple act of kindness can convey more than a dozen roses.
  • Buy her flowers. I have one friend whose wife doesn't care for flowers so he buys her donuts. Score!
  • Hug her just because. Hold her like the prize that she is. Let her feel the security of your arms and thereby your love. The corollary is a good one, too:
  • Kiss her just because. And not just on the lips. When's the last time you kissed her nape when she was putting on makeup or busy in the kitchen or taken her face in your hands and kissed her forehead?
  • Date her. I have slipped on this one recently. Time ticks away. Weeks slip into months and soon you cannot remember the last time you sat across from her and enjoyed her company. You call the sitter. You make the arrangements. You make the effort.
You know these things. I've written them before, and there is nothing new under the sun. Sometimes we need a swift kick in our complacency to not let this most amazing thing, the marriage relationship, become something that is common and abused.

Put on fresh eyes that you might see how God would have you love your wife!

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