What Can I Expect from My Marriage and Family?

Some people think that all Christian families have it together.connecting-people.jpg

They step inside a church building and see people who they perceive as having it together. In fact, they may assume that these people do not have problems in their marriages or families. Some people wonder how they could ever fit in with such a group.

Quite often people in churches perpetuate this perception.

“How is everything going?”

“Fine.”

“How are the kids?”

“Fine.”

“How was your week?”

“Fine.”

Yet the truth is that marriages and families are not always fine. In fact, there are seasons of marriage and family when there is much struggle.

Sometimes husbands and wives are very lonely within their marriages.

Sometimes children and their parents just aren’t connecting emotionally.

Some daughters wish their dads’ would make the effort to get to know them.

Some sons wish their dads’ cared more about their lives than about what is on television.

Some fathers wish they knew how to connect with their children emotionally.

Some wives really wish their husbands would be spiritual leaders.

Some wives wish they could completely trust their husbands.

Some husbands wish their wives would encourage them more.

Given these realities it is incredibly important that we learn to be honest and intentional. Families are notorious for covering up reality. They don’t want anyone to know that they struggle and have problems. Consequently, they spend much energy trying to create a certain image before their friends, their church, and their extended family. Unfortunately, more energy is spent on image management than changing the reality of their marriage or family. They become more concerned with what other people think than dealing with the reality of their lives.

We may be imperfect (and all families are) but we can be intentional about our behavior. If we are not intentional, we will resort to the default positions in our lives. In other words, we will continue bad habits and dysfunctional behaviors which feel natural because we have practiced them for so long. We may complain about certain behaviors of our parents or grandparents but then we perpetuate these same behaviors because we are not living intentionally.

(more later)


Question:

How would you describe the reality of being married? How would you describe the reality of being a family with children, etc.?




Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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8 thoughts on “What Can I Expect from My Marriage and Family?

  1. Great stuff, Jim.
    I am reminded of a blog experiment of a group of Christian women called anonymous truths where a question would be launched and these women would respond to it online, and you guessed it, anonymously. These were the Christian Stepford wives, and what they began to reveal was a mess of unconfessed affairs, emotional detachment, desperation and despair.

    We must constantly challenge our assumptions about family and marriage in our congregations.

    • Interesting regarding the blog experiment. I agree with you that we must constantly challenge our assumptions regarding marriage and family. Far too often, we underestimate just how difficult life is for some people.

      Thanks Jordan.

  2. The “reality of being married” is that marriage is not a fairytale! We don’t just ride off into the sunset on our honeymoon, and then live “happily ever after.” Marriage is about two selfish people learning how to live with each other, by learning how to love unselfishly. It takes a lifetime to work on a marriage relationship, and it includes many different seasons, such as the child-rearing season, the “empty nest” season, etc.. Just as the seasons come and go, our feelings of love may ebb and flow, too. Love is more than a feeling; it is a choice. If we would just teach our love-struck teens the difference between infatuation and sacrificial love, it would help so many young couples not to panic when they wake up and look across at the stranger they married, and wonder why they don’t “feel the love” anymore. Teach them about the meaning of commitment, and when they recite their wedding vows, they may take this charge more seriously: “Will you love, honor, comfort, and cherish him from this day forward, forsaking all others, keeping only unto him for as long as you both shall live?”

  3. Jim, There is so much that one could say in answer to your questions. I’ve been blogging for years documenting how I’m making it now after nearly losing my marriage around 8-9 years ago. Marriage affords a microcosm view of a man’s Christian life. I would venture that a man’s marriage is an almost perfect reflection of his walk with Christ. If the marriage is flourishing, healthy, vibrant then so is the walk. If the marriage is struggling, inconsistent, disengaged, then so is the walk. In a nutshell, marriage is work. Difficult, limitless, self-sacrificial work. A man can make his work a glory to God or he can make it a drudgery. He can make it profitable or he can drive it into bankruptcy.

    Obviously, I am bringing a man’s perspective to being a husband in marriage, which is important. Too many men that my wife and I have counselled want to lay the blame for their lack of a productive walk with Christ (read marriage) on their wife’s shortcomings. At any rate, good post and God Bless!

    • Kim, you make some very good points. I like what you say regarding the “difficult, limitless, self-sacrificial work” of marriage. Such a commitment can take place in the context of a loving, joyful relationship that honors God.

      Thanks so much for a good comment!

    • Christina, I think many people have a perception of Christian families that is very much what you describe. Unfortunately, some people seem to go to great lengths to communicate that their family basically has it together. Yet, that is not reality for most of us.