Have you ever bought one of those pieces of furniture that you have to put together with funny looking screws, bolts and fixtures – ones like you’ve never seen before? Well we just did, and have spent so far, about three hours putting together a desk, and we still have the drawers to go. Of course, paying three hundred dollars is certainly better than the one we had fallen in love with that cost twelve hundred dollars, so we went the more laborious, less costly route. Sound familiar?
As I write, we are taking a break so that Ron can take one of his famous “power naps” and I can write this week’s blog. I began to think of the similarities between our current “figure out the puzzle and try and put it together” and the complexities and confusion that relationships often are.
When we first married, Ron and I thought that everything was great. We paid only two dollars for the marriage license and on our wedding night the vending machine at our hotel gave us two cans of ginger ale for the price of one! What a bargain. But the first snafu arrived on day five of the honeymoon when Ron complained (putting it mildly) that he was getting too much lovin’, and then a few weeks later that he wasn’t getting enough! I discovered that even though I loved him dearly, he was not filling the empty spot in my heart where my father should have been. And I was not filling his need for his mother. What a goofed up mess we were.
We have since discovered that marriage begins with dream-world – it’s gonna’ be heaven on earth! Yup, that desk is gonna be so handy and so attractive!
Shortly after the wedding however, disillusionment sets in. Once we opened the box we were horrified by the thick book of perplexing instructions. This isn’t going to be as easy as we’d thought!
Once in the day to day grind, we discover that we are in misery. He or she isn’t what and who I thought. Did you know that 75% of the couples who stay married (and that’s only 50% of those who marry) live in misery for the rest of their lives? It’s like how we felt after opening the box of desk parts, laying them out all around us, and feeling defeated before we got started!
The couples, who move beyond misery, do so because they read the instructions and little by little begin to work on things, rather than being discouraged before they get started. They learn of each other’s ways and why they have them. They learn of the background; the beginnings of their partner, and how childhood has impacted who they are. And they take a big long look in the mirror – that’s most important – to see how they became who they are, and how their own idiosyncrasies influence their relationship. That work of self examination leads to personal changes that improve the marriage. Knowledge leads to awareness and is power for healing. It’s like that putting this desk together too. If we ran ahead, looking at all of the instructions, we would quit before we start, but one step at a time gets the job done, tedious though it may be, and soon we begin to see the desk appearing before us, rather than a heap of disconnected “stuff.”
Once couples have personal knowledge, the knowledge of how to change themselves, and do the work, they begin to accept each other and enjoy the marriage they have built – notice: It didn’t appear the moment you were pronounced man and wife. It took work, compromise, selflessness and cooperation, but soon what you dreamed about began to take shape. Acceptance for each other became the prize that made your marriage joyful. And so it has been with our desk. Perseverance, willingness to follow the directions and hard work created what we need to continue the work God gave us to do.
Acceptance is the state you want to be in – acceptance of yourself, acceptance of each other and acceptance of the instruction and the guidelines for keeping marriage a taste of heaven.
Now, Ron’s awake. Back to that desk!