Friday, January 22, 2010

The Seasons of Marriage

This is a picture of Miguel and I taken last summer...we played frisbee in the park (which would explain my ruddy complexion) and enjoyed the trees and green grass (if you've ever lived in this part of the country, you'll know why that's such a big deal! lol)...

I recently heard about a book written by Gary Chapman called The Four Seasons of Marriage...I think I want to read it! This book suggests that marriages tend to move back and forth between seasons of warmth, openness, and closeness and seasons of detachment, discouragement, and uncertainty. Having just recently celebrated 14 years of marriage, the idea of the seasons of marriage makes a lot of sense to me...besides, what a relief to know that it's a natural part of married life! (I have suspected at times that it was just me...)

Using the analogy of seasons in marriage, I guess you could say that we've been going through a time of fall and winter (uncertainty, distance, discouragement) for the last few years...seems like it's been a struggle to survive life in general sometimes...the arrival of four children in 7 years, a rough time of it as we served in Venezuela, family instability stemming from too many moves, my struggle with depression especially after our 4th child was born, a change in mission fields (Miguel tends to feel somewhat 'exiled' from his home country)...all these things and more contributed to a sense of failure in ministry and a struggle to keep our heads above water as a couple, so to speak.

And yet God uses these times in our lives to grow and mature us in the areas we need to work on the most. In fact, sometimes I wonder if God didn't just put us into a great big 'time-out' just so that He could prepare us for further ministry! One of the images I loved best from The Shack*** was when Mack was working with the Holy Spirit out in the garden, digging up deep roots and talking about some difficult areas in Mack's life...the realization that the entire garden was a picture of Mack's life and the gentleness with which the Holy Spirit helped Mack dig up those roots in order to plant something even more beautiful touched me. God has not been harsh in dealing with me, on the contrary, He is gently directing me to those areas of my life He would like to change...

Recently, it seems like there have been hints of Spring in our marriage...a softening in the grip of ice and frost here, a few green shoots poking their heads through the snow openness and acceptance in our relationship in place of the defensiveness and 'high emotions'. I sense genuine change in both of us, a humility that wasn't there before.

For our anniversary this year, my gift to my husband was one of Trust...a pledge to honor and support his ministry decisions, whatever those might be. I aspire to the example of Sarah in I Peter 3:1-6...

Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that,
if any of them do not believe the word,
they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives,
when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.
Your beauty should not come from outward adornment,
such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes.
Instead, it should be that of your inner self,
the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit,
which is of great worth in God's sight.

For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful.
They were submissive to their own husbands, like Sarah,

who obeyed Abraham and called him her master.
You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.

We all know how God moved to defend Sarah during those times that Abraham faltered in his faith and made some bad decisions...and yet I tend to waiver in my trust in God and allow fear to control and paralyze me, short-circuiting my relationship to my husband. I am not here to talk about my husband, however, but to take responsibility for my side of the equation, that God calls me to live out my life in faith and trust regardless of my not 'give way to fear' as is my tendency. Another good reminder of why I need to continue to focus on my relationship with God and continue to put down those spiritual roots to stabilize and nourish me in times of trouble and drought.

We still have very little idea of what lies ahead for us or where God will lead us next...but I believe that as we work on the foundation of trust and cry out to the Lord together from a place of unity, those details will fall into place. These are exciting times!

***Yes, yes, I know there was controversy about the book, but it is a good story and I certainly don't base my Christian life or doctrinal beliefs on any novel...


Ellie said...

not going to beat you up over the book... I liked it, but I don't say that too loudly at church!

Thanks for the reminder that God defended Sarah when Abraham failed her. I needed that reminder today.

We're definitely in spring, and I'm happy for that. There is still the slow rebuilding of trust after a particularly long and brutal winter. Newly built trust is fragile and subject to damage easily. Today, I've cleaning up some debris after a shaking, but the trust is slowly being built.

Still today, I needed that reminder. When he fails, God does not.


Cindy said...

I loved The Shack.
I cried almost all the way through it. Billy liked it, too.
we talked for hours about it after we had both read it...

So cool to hear about the process God is bringing you and Miguel through. I love the thought of God and the Time Out. I have felt very much that way myself.
Or of being on the sideline while I watch everyone else...who seems to know exactly where they are going and what they are doing...
but, maybe they are as uncertain and insecure as I am??
But, then I remember comparison is not a healthy thing...
so, here I am keeping my eye on the prize...Jesus.

Cindy said...

Oh, and Girls, don't be discourged by those seasons in marriage.
We have been married 34 years and the seasons still keep coming around...that's just the way it is
melding two hearts, two minds, two
dispositions, two stubborn individuals into one.
I think it is well worth the fight.

Because Billy is such a cut up...
someone once asked me how I put up with him....
my answer.... I have invested too many years in him to give up now!!

Norberto Kurrle said...

What a beautiful post and such sincere thoughts. I have read the Four Seasons and it was a good read. I think your gift to your Hubby was awesome. Don't we all need to trust (and surrender control) a little more!

Rebecca Conduff Aguirre said... glad you are also coming into spring...and it's so true what you say, God never fails!

@Cindy...that's often how we've felt, like we're on the sidelines watching everyone else move with purpose. But I think you are right, it's an illusion, perhaps more of us are more unsettled than we know? and wow, 34 years! :)

@Julie...yes, it did turn out to be a good gift and both of us are learning to offer trust and relax control...good lessons.