How To Save Your Marriage by William G. White

23 07 2015

How to save your marriage

I once heard a wise priest say that if married couples go into marriage with a plan to share everything fifty-fifty—all the responsibilities, all the privileges, all the give and take—then they will have an unhappy marriage. If they want to be happy, then they must give one hundred percent, even while receiving little or nothing. If each of the spouses has an attitude of total self-giving, then they will have a chance of true happiness in their marriage.
How does this play out in the practical order? Most couples work out a fair division of labor around the house, and usually this involves a fairly traditional pattern: the husband takes out the trash; the wife cooks; they do the dishes together. But these are relatively arbitrary; as long as both pitch in willingly, the jobs will get done one way or another.

Ladies, since you will almost inevitably do more than your share, try to be pleased with your husband’s sincere efforts, no matter how small. Gentlemen, only by striving constantly to do more than your share will you come even close to a fair share.(No, these stereotypes are not universal—they probably describe only about ninety-nine percent of marriages.)
In other areas, the roles of husband and wife are more pre-determined by nature. Women are neither the slaves nor the property of men—nor vice versa. Husbands and wives are equal partners. God created Eve as “a partner fit for [Adam].” As soon as he met Eve, Adam said with delight: “Here then is flesh of my flesh and bone of my bones.” But equal partnership and equal worth do not mean sameness. Rather it is the complementarity of man and woman that makes each of them perfectly suited to be the answer to the other’s deepest needs, to make each other complete.
In general, men tend to be protective, women to be nurturing; men are more methodical, women more intuitive; men look at the longer view, women are more sensitive to immediate needs; men’s reasoning is more cognitive, women’s is more tuned in to emotions. These tendencies, of course, vary among individuals and couples, but are generally true.
Another wise priest once said, “Men and women have different strengths and different weaknesses and the strengths of one are precisely suited to fill up the needs of the other.” Woman’s greatest danger is loneliness; the role of her husband is to provide companionship.(A word to the guys: Forget the bowling night, or whatever other “night out with the guys” you may now enjoy, or at least make sure it’s a much lower priority than spending time with your wife. Your new best buddy is sitting next to you now.)

On the other hand, a man’s greatest danger is discouragement. The responsibility of earning a living, supporting a family, making one’s way in a competitive and even hostile world can be daunting. Women’s greatest gift to their husbands, then, is support and encouragement. Tell him how wonderful you think he is, what a great provider he is, how strong he is and how much you depend on him. Save the nitpicking and criticism for another time, preferably your prayer time. Bring your complaints to the Lord before you lay them on your husband.

Now some people might say that the sacrifice is too great, that no one can just give and give and give. But as I am sure you have heard, “It is in giving that we receive.” In giving more than we ever thought we could, we receive more reward than we ever could have imagined. Marriage is, in fact, the only vocation that promises a measure of happiness, even a foretaste of heaven, on this earth.
.” A man and a woman are made not for themselves but for each other. Now, it is hardly necessary to explain this truth to engaged couples who are deeply in love with each other. It is something they feel with all their hearts, with all their being. But this great truth has meaning that extends beyond falling in love, getting engaged and getting married. It means something about how this love is to be lived out in the long lives that, God willing, engaged couples will spend with each other.
The nuptial meaning of the body reveals the true nature of marriage: a relationship of complete mutual self-donation. Husband and wife give themselves to each other body and soul. They no longer live for themselves but for each other. This self-surrender is far from easy. You will be called upon to give more of yourself than you could have imagined you are capable of giving. You will find yourselves stretched, pulled and expanded in new and unexpected ways. If you respond with love to every demand, trial and crisis in your marriage, you will grow more mature, more generous, more patient, more kind and more selfless. You will be practicing a love that will change you into a new person who will be capable of living an eternity of love. That’s what the family is for— to prepare husbands, wives and children for heaven.

William G. White is a medical doctor




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