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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Cracks in the Foundation of Marriage

Many marriages are struggling. Many people have struggled for so long they are calling it quits. Many have decided to stay together for the kids or because of finances or other reasons which indicate the marriage has gone bad. Would these people have done something different if they had noticed that there were cracks in their marriage's foundation?

The foundation of a marriage is like the slab in your driveway. It will develop cracks if it is not maintained. It needs to be refinished and kept from the roots of trees and shrubs which can crack and eventually destroy it. Even water will eventually destroy a driveway if it is not routed away from it.

The cracks in the marriage foundation come first in the lack of communication. A man generally wins his wife's heart by talking to her. He talks to her about his life and what they will do together and whatever is on his heart. He wins her heart by sharing his.

Soon after marriage men often stop talking. However, they grunt more. Questions like, "How was your day?" or "Would you my mother this weekend?" are met with grunts. (Though not the same sounding grunt.) Each night the wife tries to engage her husband in conversation while he grunts. She knows only one way to get him to talk. Make him mad! He talks freely when this happens. There is a serious crack in the marriage foundation when much of the conversation between a husband and wife is said in anger.

I ask men what they think their brides want them to do when the wife talks and talks and talks to them. Their answer is nearly always, "Listen." WRONG! The wife wants him to talk to her. She craves a true relationship and that means communication.

Marriages need to be refinished often. Men should ask their wives for dates each week. He should talk to her during the date. The subject matter needs to be each other as much as possible. Keep talking about your dreams together and many cracks will be healed.

Men, on the other hand, need something that wives may not want to give. Men need admiration. I said this in an article several years ago and my wife greeted me with, "You're the man! The greatest! There's no one like you!" (This may not be an exact quote.) I laughed because I realized she had read what I had written but it felt really good at the same time. Words of admiration from the woman he loves will inspire a man to new heights. He will do anything for that woman. And thus, we have many affairs begin. When the wife doesn't give admiration, the man will gravitate toward someone who will.

I tell every pre-marital couple I counsel that there are three things I recommend to keep a marriage burning strongly. I have never done any marital counseling for couples doing these things.

First, be part of a church together. Regularly attend a Sunday School class or small group so that you will get to know these people. They will provide a common social atmosphere. They will be people you can share your triumphs and hurts. You will help them and they will help you. It is a common social foundation for the two of you. This is not merely going to church together. People can attend church like they it is a concert. They can listen and never meet anyone around them. They need the social interaction a Sunday School class or other small group of Christians can provide.

Second, pray together. This may be the most intimate spiritual thing that a couple will do together. It is often awkward for the man or woman to do so but it allows both of you to put your trust in God. It also gives you a common spiritual foundation which if sincerely meant will guide you through many of your decisions together.

Third, have lots of sex with each other. Most couples really laugh when they hear this because they think I am joking. Sex is a way we bound with our spouse in more than a physical way. It reveals a peace between husband and wife when it is done freely. (Rather than done with coercion) It should calm the husband and give security to the wife. If not, there is something wrong here.

A couple who has strong common communication, strong common social relations, strong common spiritual relations and strong common physical relations will have a strong marital foundation. The cracks can be noticed when any of these cease to be strong or common.

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