As our world isn't perfect, our relationships aren't either. Nevertheless, with effort, we can be perfectly happy with our partner, argues Juanita Eastwick.
The odds are against a marriage surviving these days, yet, somehow, mine has managed to. Not only am I still married, but also, strangely it seems, each of us is still happy with the person we chose to marry.
Marriage is the joining of two lives into one. A process that is reliant on the two parties working together to make the equation work. The way we react to stress can make or break a relationship. Jesus said all those who are weary and heavy burdened should come to Him and He would give us rest (Matthew 11:28). But how often, instead of going to the one who can pour salve on a wounded soul, do we, out of anger, frustration and hurt, turn to those we love most and take our confusion out on them?
Marriage was meant to be a shadow of our relationship with our heavenly Father. (A shadow of perfect is perfection, is it not?) Yet when our heavenly relationship faltered, so did our earthly relationships. How is your relationship with your Redeemer? How is your relationship with your loved ones? Do they reflect each other?
As long as we live in an imperfect world our relationships are going to be flawed. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t make them work or that we can’t have successful, loving relationships. What it does mean is that there will be times when we need to be forgiving, and times when we need to be forgiven; and times when we need to ask for forgiveness, and times when we need to accept the apologies of our spouse.
But that doesn’t mean, for example, that one has to accept repeated abusive behaviour just because a partner is repentant.
What it does mean is that you are able to talk about why the incident happened and what we can do about helping our spouse to reduce the likelihood of it happening again. Because the partners respect each other, they will desire to help each other work on their imperfections in a loving, caring manner.
My husband and I have been married for almost 12 years. We’ve had disagreements in that time. (I don’t believe two people could possibly live together and agree all of the time.) But never has either of us thought that any differing of opinion couldn’t be worked through.
Most of those years we’ve been blissfully content, but there have also been times of intense stress. Moving house, moving states, changing jobs, changing roles, changing direction (occasionally losing direction), new life and death. All of these experiences have touched us many times and we feel that with some of the less positive moments that we would rather not experience them again.
We can have faith, though, that “even if I go through the deepest darkness, I will not be afraid, Lord, for you are with me” (Psalm 23:4, TEV). Jesus knew there would be tough times—times that we think are too tough—but He promised to be with us. And He gave us marriage and parents and children so that we would not feel physically alone during those times.
He also knew we’d have trouble accepting that our only help was a Saviour we couldn’t see. He knew we’d need the physical comfort of another human being. He made us to need each other. He created Adam and knew he needed a friend by his side, so He created Eve; He created marriage. He created it perfect, and while our world is no longer perfect, and our relationships are no longer perfect, we can be perfectly happy with our partner—happy to willingly work on problems, happy to sort out our differences, happy that we have differences.
One thing my husband and I have found is that it’s difficult to stay annoyed with someone when you share the same faults (if you see your own, that is). If you want to see the faults in your partner, you must be willing to look for faults in yourself. When you are perfect, only then can you expect perfection from those around you.