SPIRITUAL MATTERS: Embrace the seasons of marriage

Marriage experts tell us there are three basic stages or cycles in a marriage.
Honestly I think it’s a bit of an oversimplification. They can blend together and go back and forth. But it’s helpful to realize most marriages go through three basic seasons.
The first stage is the romantic season. Remember how your heart used to flutter when your lover walked into the room? You’d catch your breath. Your heart would patter.
The first time I saw Sandy we were at a church camp in Western PA. It was a beautiful August evening and she was walking across the upper level of the campgrounds.
As the setting sun gleamed against her hair and her eyes flashed bright blue, I thought, “Whoa! Who’s the babe?”
I asked her out for a date that very night. I took her to the local truck stop! (We were high society back then.) And the rest is history! Sandy and I will celebrate 39 years of marriage this July.
Most of us enter marriage because we fall “in love.” The bells go off. We tingle all over. It’s a feeling. The problem is this romantic stage never lasts. On the average it lasts about two years. So if you happen to be in this romantic stage right now, I don’t mean to burst your bubble, but enjoy it!
Because the next stage is referred to by some experts as the resentful season! The kids are born. Your job is a hassle. You start to notice, “You know, my spouse has bad breath!” You start to notice all these little things that bug you! You wonder, “How did my spouse change so much! He used to be perfect! She used to be wonderful! Why do we fight so much now? Where did those tingly feelings go?”
You start to resent your situation. You don’t like the pressures and the stresses, and you even start to resent your spouse. You married her because she made you feel good. You married him because he made you happy. And now, the feeling is gone and you’re not so happy.
And at this point, you have several options. You can ignore the problems and start living separate lives as much as you can. You can fight about stuff. You can say, “Hey, we don’t love each other anymore! Let’s get divorced!” And you set off in search of a new “in-love” experience.
Or you can begin the hard work of learning to love each other without the drug of romantic love.
Thankfully, many marriages work through their issues and eventually enter into the stage experts call the harmonious season. It is the season where your love is deeper than the adrenaline of lustful love.
She knows you’ve got bad breath and she still loves you. He knows you snore at night and he still loves you! You’re no longer using each other for the huggy-kissy feelings you use to give each other. You are devoted to each other and love each other in a deeper way.
Gary Thomas has written a great book called Sacred Marriage. He writes, “A good marriage is not something you find, it’s something you work for.”
As we approach Mother’s Day, I encourage you to realize this. A good marriage is not something you find, it’s something you work for.
The Rev. Greg Henneman is pastor of Clarkston Community Church, 248-625-1323

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