Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Gleanings from the Pastor's Perspective: "Small Changes and a Good Marriage?"

The Pastor’s Perspective

Vol. 32 Num. 3

The Myths of Marriage (5)

First Published: January 21, 1999

This is the fifth in a series of very helpful articles on marriage by Dr. Glen Knecht (of Fourth Presbyterian Church in Washington, DC). This one is both challenging and encouraging. It’s a challenge for those unprepared for the hard work of marriage, but it’s an encouragement for those who have discovered that marriage is hard work, faced subsequent despair, and who are looking for hope.

The Myths of Marriage (5): If each of us make a few small changes we will have a good marriage

I’ve been seeking to illuminate some of the misunderstandings that are generally found in the hearts and minds of people with regard to marriage; even their own marriages. One‑by‑one to try to show the other side and perhaps bring reality where there has been fantasy.

A fifth misconception is that each partner needs to make some minor changes in order to adjust to the marriage and to the other person. We think just some little fine‑tuning will bring everything into good shape but that is a grave mistake. What is required is a major change — a whole reconstruction of the person for this venture called marriage.

Marriage was created for an innocent state. It was created for Adam and Eve in the Garden when there was no sin in their hearts but everyone now who enters marriage enters as a sinner. We are a fallen race and we live in a fallen world so that there are no compatible marriages. Every marriage needs major reconstruction for both persons in order to become truly one.

For example, the ego must be crushed. How proud we are! How selfish and self‑centered we can be! How much we gauge events and experiences in terms of their effect upon us and whether or not we were pleased by them. It is necessary for that pride within us to be destroyed so that we can become true lovers of the other person and not those who love themselves.

In addition, marriage means death to the single point of view which may have occupied one for many years before marriage, and which many within the bonds of matrimony still embrace. They still think of themselves as independent operators and they have joined their life to another person to a degree but they haven't given up their individuality, their independence, their singleness, really. That means that the two lives in such a home are “marinated” together but they are not married. That is, they haven't really lost their individual properties in a new entity. It takes major upheaval and reordering of life to marry another person rather than simply becoming roommates with them. One's whole inner life has to be restructured in order to please another person and to love them as we promised to do in our vows.

But the happy result is that the new personality that emerges out of this process is a far better one than the one that entered ‑ more tender, sensitive and gracious and loving. And the love that is exerted is purer and truer than that which had the admixture of self‑love with it.

So within your marriages be ready for “major reconstruction.” In fact, invite it. Ask God to help you with it so that you can be all that God wants you to be as a marriage partner and as a new person in Christ.


May God give us the strength to see and face ourselves as we really are, and then to change – by the grace of the Spirit.

Your friend,

Ligon Duncan

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