From Boundless – Life doesn’t “start” when marriage “starts”. In fact, as the article points out, there are still moments of loneliness even in great, happy marriages such as that of the author:
That said, there are still times I feel lonely. They might come in the midst of conflict or misunderstanding. My wife, for example, is an internal processor. I sometimes have a sense that there’s something we need to work through, but she may not be ready to do that in the moment. I have to give her space to communicate in her time — not mine. I can feel pretty alone in those moments. Other times, by the time we’ve taken care of the household’s most basic tasks — feeding, bathing and clothing our children — and discharged our work responsibilities, there’s very little energy left over for each other. We’ve had more than a few date nights that were less like two cherished soul mates staring lovingly at each other than two zoned-out zombies struggling to find a single word to say. Those are lonely moments.
From an appendix of Joni Eareckson Tada’s book (co-authored by Steve Estes), When God Weeps: Why Our Sufferings Matter to the Almighty. This list is very much worth reflecting upon.
From UnTangled – Kelly Flanagan, a licensed clinical psychologist, reflects on his years of marital counseling and how there can be a glorious revolution in marriage if more people would embrace losing. His concept of the types of marriages there are is parallel to the concept of friendship in marriage that Driscoll writes about in Real Marriage. For Flanagan, the first type of marriage is one in which both spouses are trying to “win” against each other (back-to-back), and these marriages account for over 50% of the marriages that end in divorce. The second type of marriage is an abusive one in which the same spouse always wins and the other spouse always loses (back-to-back). Then there is the type of marriage in which both spouses try to “lose” for one another (face-to-face):
In marriage, losing is letting go of the need to fix everything for your partner, listening to their darkest parts with a heart ache rather than a solution. It’s being even more present in the painful moments than in the good times. It’s finding ways to be humble and open, even when everything in you says that you’re right and they are wrong. It’s doing what is right and good for your spouse, even when big things need to be sacrificed, like a job, or a relationship, or an ego. It is forgiveness, quickly and voluntarily. It is eliminating anything from your life, even the things you love, if they are keeping you from attending, caring, and serving. It is seeking peace by accepting the healthy but crazy-making things about your partner because, you remember, those were the things you fell in love with in the first place. It is knowing that your spouse will never fully understand you, will never truly love you unconditionally—because they are a broken creature, too—and loving them to the end anyway.
Marty Duren on the dangers of choosing sides and labeling one another. When we focus on such things, I feel that we’re fumbling over the proper order of things. As Augustine said, in essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity:
Living in a world inhabited by theologians, pastors, writers and teachers, it feels that everyone wants to label everyone around them. Many people feel perfectly comfortable labeling themselves as conservative, liberal, moderate, complementarian, egalitarian, Calvinist, Arminian, triperspectivalist, ad infinitum, ad nauseum. […] I cannot help but think that some of this choosing of sides is rooted in laziness and arrogance. We are too lazy to get to the core of another person, so we are content to pigeon hole them for our convenience. It takes a LOT of time to build a relationship, while judgments can be made in milliseconds. It’s also easier to say, “I’m a conservative, dyed-in-the-wool,” than to say, “We should grab coffee and talk that through.” Within the community of Christ’s followers there is the seemingly unstoppable urge to divide, sub-divide and factionalize. […] Other than follower of Christ I do not care for a “name.” If it makes you feel better to label yourself then be all means do so. I often think, however, that our penchant for labels has a dehumanizing effect on both the labelers and the labelees. It is like always referring to our neighbors by their idiosyncrasies since such is easier than really getting to know them. “Oh, yeah, that’s the fat guy down on the corner,” rather than, “That’s Bob Fredrickson. We’ve known each other for a couple of years. His wife is Laura, and their son, Henry, is away at college.”
On John Knox, the great Protestant Scottish reformer:
Today, Knox is buried in a parking lot. While there are statues to Knox in Edinburgh, there are no monuments to him. Dr. Charles D. Brokenshire writes, “Scotland has erected no monument on the grave of John Knox, for Scotland is his monument. He was courageous and true.”