Sunday, November 24, 2019

Is Yours a Bad Marriage Or Are You Bad at Marriage?

I waited until I was 30 years old to marry, and I did so with one goal in mind-I wanted to stay married and believed that I needed to take time to become marriageable. I wanted to develop some of the qualities I expected my future mate to have. Even with all my preparation I couldn't imagine the demands love would place upon me, nor the battle I'd enter into with myself.
Marriage is a unique relationship that truly requires one thing and one thing
Now, don't be too quick to dismiss what I just said. There's far more to that statement than what you might think initially. Remember the infamous song, "What's Love Got to Do with it?" In marriage the answer is everything.
Everything in marriage has to do with love. What you say, why you say it, and how you say it. What you want for yourself, your mate, and for both of you. What you do and your reasons for doing this or that, or not. In marriage love is everything.
In fact, I'm going to go ahead and put it right out there. Without love you don't truly have a marriage. And, even worse, without it you're simply going to be bad at marriage and actually create a rather bad marriage.
If love is so significant to marriage, then it's only reasonable to ask the question, "What is love," or at least, "What kind of love is it that makes one successful in marriage?" The answer to that lies in the definition of love. So, what is love? Well in our culture today we use the word love to describe just about everything, don't we? For example, we love sports, pizza, chocolate, shoes, ad infinitum. Obviously, this isn't the love we're speaking of that makes for great marriages.
There are three words Greeks used that reveal the true nature of love. Their description more accurately describes the kind of love strong marriages are built on; and, that can transform a "bad marriage" into a great marriage.
In great marriages couples express love as the Greeks described it-eros, philia, and agape. The best description of eros I've ever heard is that it's "the physical passion of the body and its intoxicating pleasure." I love that definition, and it's from someone most people would least expect to hear such a definition from-Pope Benedict XVI!
Philia is the love of friendship, and agape, lastly, is unconditional, selfless love. It's the "self-giving love of one who looks exclusively for the good of the other," to quote the pontiff Benedict once again. Of the three, agape is the most important because it holds all three together. So, in great marriages there is the powerful expression of physical love, the emotionally bonding love of friendship, and the life giving power of agape love holding it all together as couples give and receive from each other both physically and emotionally through acts of selflessness and sacrifice.
Therein is the battle I mentioned earlier on that I had. The battle is always within you. Love is demanding and you must decide again and again to take up the challenge of loving or selfishness. Now, here are some questions for you to answer for yourself.
  • How good are we at blending the three expressions of love?
  • Is there friendship in your marriage?
  • How do you cultivate friendship with your partner?
  • How good are you at openly disclosing your thoughts, feelings, desires, and needs?
  • Are you willing and joyful about the opportunity to share the gift of your body with your partner?
  • And, how well do you open up emotionally with your partner? When you're at odds, can you express yourself constructively? Can you remain supportive?
If you're unable to answer yes to these questions, it only means that you're not where you can be and as a result neither is your marriage. Unless there's abuse and dangerous behavior (violence, and/or criminal behavior) what is often considered a "bad marriage" is more often than not a case of being bad at marriage, or not very effective at loving self or others.
The reality is that most of us come to marriage bad at it, or not very good at loving (gifting ourselves to another person selflessly). And until we get better at loving, we'll continue to create experiences in marriage that make us and the one we love miserable. Being bad at marriage is a common problem, but the good news is that as long as you're capable of making a decision, you're capable of building a great marriage. My passion is to help couples realize that they can become very good at marriage-very good lovers in the fullest sense of the word as I've described it above.

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