I work with people in various levels of marital distress. I like to think that I provide them with Godly counsel and practical advice on how to make their situation better. But the key here is the word – “better”. I didn’t say “perfect”.
I am blessed with having a great marriage. But it is not perfect. Truth be told, there are some days (week/seasons?) where it much farther from perfection than others. Over the course of time, our relationship is clearly trending “up and to the right”, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some short declines from time to time.
If you want to put your marriage to a real test (and who doesn’t – insert sarcastic, laughing emoji here), lead a marriage workshop, mentor another couple or just give advice to a friend in need. As soon as you step out to help others, you put your own marriage in the crosshairs of the enemy. I’m a firm believer that the spiritual realm surrounding us operates much in the same way as the physical realm in which live does. In physics, you learn that “for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction…”. When we step out in faith, when we share our own real-life examples of marriage trials and successes we often find there is an unseen, but very real push back.
NOTE: I am not implying that God and Satan are equal and opposite, God the creator is clearly superior, but that doesn’t eliminate efforts from “the dark side” to thwart us.
I distinctly remember the days in the past when Tara and I would lead a marriage workshop at our church. Inevitably, on the drive there, we would get into some type of ridiculous argument about who knows what. By the time we would arrive, we would both be so flustered and aggravated that it was all we could do to stop, pray together and go lead the sessions. We might not have argued all week, but sure enough – on that day we would fight passionately.
It should come as no surprise that as I went through the process of writing “Rules of Engagement”, we would find ourselves once again disagreeing on a number of issues. There were days when I felt like a complete hypocrite. “How can I release a book instructing couples on how to fight fair when we can’t do it ourselves?” I would ask. Several times, I questioned my own qualifications in writing it.
But I’m convinced that God doesn’t want us to focus on the little things. He wants us to keep the big picture in mind. Truth be told, our marriage is in a better place than it was when I started writing. I remain convinced that it will be better yet this time next year.
When you read my book (and I really hope you will), I want you to remember that it was not written by a person that has perfected marriage. And if we have the chance to meet, please know that I struggle from time to time in my relationship, just like you do. But do remember – this is a guy that is committed to making it better. At least over the long run…