Honesty has a beautiful and refreshing simplicity about it. No ulterior motives. No hidden meanings. An absence of hypocrisy, duplicity, political games, and verbal superficiality. As honesty and real integrity characterize our lives, there will be no need to manipulate others.
– Charles Swindoll
“…there will be no need to manipulate others.”
Is that why we don’t speak honestly? And as I think about that…yes. It’s because I want to influence or control or sway…or manipulate the situation in some way. Hmm. But I have also experienced the beauty of honesty. It makes us vulnerable. But it also deepens and crumbles walls in relationships. In an age where people have hundreds of online connections but very few close or intimate friends, deep and barrier-less relationships are gold. Especially in marriage. Especially. In. Marriage.
So, let’s work on being more honest.
(Side note: Being honest doesn’t mean being brutal either…tact and timing can go a long way.)
What’s more common though are parents putting all the attention and energy and focus and devotion on the kids to the neglect of their spouse. And usually there are also some unresolved issues buried in there that made taking care of the kids an excuse to not deal with the issues.
As I caught up with various friends and the topic of family comes up, I realized I’ve heard and witnessed this in the parents of my friends and even in family. It wasn’t apparent before. Maybe because we were young, self absorbed, looking forward to our own shiny, promising future. Even if they fought we probably just rolled out eyes, plug in the ear buds, or close the door in our room. But now that we’ve left the nest or see that the nest is nearly empty, we can see that Mom and Dad seem like strangers to each other. The only conversation, actually I can’t even call it that…the only interaction is in verbal reminders of pick up/drop off schedules or instructions for some task. Or passive criticism. Or outright complaints.
Not exactly the model of marriage we kids get excited about when we consider marriage for ourselves. My parents have been through rough valleys but thankfully they’ve worked it out. They can argue like an old married couple while making a pot of soup for me but they hold hands when they walk, or even when they drive together. And thirty-six years of marriage later, they still giggle. That makes me excited about marriage.
Maybe what’s also helped my generation identify common marriage issues is the plethora of resources available to help couples identify and work through destructive habits or reactions in their relationship. As well as how build each other up or how to show love & appreciation in ways your spouse will receive as meaningful.
I read this somewhere, and I paraphrase, that if you focus on being a great parent, you’re likely a bad spouse. Being a bad spouse means your marriage suffers, which means your children suffer. But focusing on being a good spouse first will build a good marriage. A good marriage enables you to be a good parent.
This idea has stuck in my head such that I tell Nessness “Daddy’s my first priority” even if it’s only to remind myself.
Staying married is part of God’s best plan for us. I think staying miserable is a bit of a choice. =P
I partly come back to this thought, “If an arranged-marriage can develop into a lifelong relationship with deep respect and love for each other….then ANYONE who has chosen to marry the person they did should be able to do the same thing.”
I think we’ve become more a culture of throwing away things that don’t work the way we want, instead of trying to fix it. (Yes it’s a two-way street…and I’m not talking about unrepentant unfaithfulness or abuse here.) A marriage doesn’t suddenly become miserable. Something triggers a slow slide towards “miserable”. Maybe it’s that time you felt under appreciated. Maybe it’s a word or action that makes you not feel loved or respected by your spouse. That little seed takes root. And every time your spouse “did it again” or “failed to do it again”, it adds to the tally, which waters that little seed. Then that seed starts to grow deep roots of apathy, resentment and bitterness….before finally producing the fruit of a miserable marriage.
Each step towards misery is a choice to NOT communicate honestly. It’s a choice to NOT forgive or extend grace. It’s a choice to not admit wrong. It’s a choice to hang onto your pride. It’s a choice to keep records of wrongs. It’s a choice to believe the worst in your spouse instead of the best. It’s a choice to not find out what makes your spouse feel appreciated/loved/respected. It’s a choice to insist your way is the right way. And it’s a choice to keep your own interests/comforts/priorities #1. These choices build walls. So it’s hard to see how a couple who actively seeks to do the opposite to the above list won’t have a great marriage. I’m not saying it’ll be easy…but I’m pretty sure it won’t be miserable.
Granted sometimes you might not know HOW to do the opposite or even realize that it was a choice…but does it ever get to a point where it’s impossible to undo? That I don’t know. Could a clean break and fresh start be the only solution in certain situations? I don’t know. We live in a broken world….as broken people. What I DO know is that God can take a broken marriage and make it whole again. He can take a broken person and make him or her whole again. I think that’s ultimately where God’s heart is and as we submit to that, “miserable” will be a temperary state.
I’ve been discussing various family history stories with people and are speculating about what could’ve gone down in a particular scenario. If the following facts were all you had, what story would you put together about what happened? (All the facts must be used)
This was during wartimes when Japan invaded China
Man has a Wife (W1) in China whom he was officially married to, they have one son
Man met another woman (W2) in HK/Kowloon before 1950
Man produces seven children in total, six born in HK
The children were born to W1 and W2 in this order: W1, W2, W2, W1, W2, W1, W2
At one point, a judge in HK invalidated the “marriage” between Man and W2
Man was not charged with bigamy nor was he granted a double marriage
W2 and her children later lived separately from Man, W1 and their children
And these were the marriage laws of the day:
Having more than one official “wife” was illegal in China…but you could have concubines…this practice of keeping concubines was banned in 1950
You didn’t have to register your marriage in HK until after 1950
Having more than one legal wife in HK wasn’t banned until 1971
Bigamy was illegal in China, the second “marriage” would be nullified if the first wife was still alive
Feel free to add your interpretation of the facts to the poll! I do believe there’s usually more than two sides to a story. Also, please share why you’d pick one story over the other(s) as being more plausible.
When I got engaged, people started asking if I’m planning to start a family soon. Like wait wait wait….isn’t that putting the cart before the horse? Could they wait until I was married to start asking about kids? (And I know I know, marriage is no prerequisite to having kids these days, but still.) Anyways, we get married and again, “So, planning any kids?” I explain that considering the long distance nature of our entire courtship, we’d like some time together to build a solid foundation in marriage first. People understood this so they backed off a bit.
We’re into our third year of marriage. I’m very thankful to have been off medication for seven months now…and every other phone call from my Dad involves asking if I have any “good news” for him. ha ha. I’ll let you know when I know Dad. Friends cautiously ask, “You’re off medication now right? So are you thinking more about starting a family?”
Don’t get me wrong, I honestly don’t mind being asked about kids. I know people are in anticipation of celebrating this kind of life milestone and life miracle with us. (And ok, maybe some are just nosey, but I don’t care either way.) We DO plan on having them…God willing. What I’m concerned about is navigating the “what if we can’t conceive” question. Will I get extremely sensitive about it? Will I get depressed?
So, this is my strategy…to voluntarily just tell people that we’re thinking of starting a family soon. That way, if there continues to be an absence of any “news” from us or a lack of ultrasound photos posted on FB, that people might automatically start to think that maybe it’s a struggle for us. And then just have the sensitivity to not ask “So, you thinking of having kids soon?” This would save us from either 1) having to honestly and maybe painfully say we’re having difficulty or 2) having to lie about some reason as to why we’re not having kids yet…and then have it lead to “but you’re not getting younger” comments.
As for whether or not we’ve really started trying for a family yet…that’s for us to know. =)