Thursday, July 14, 2016

12 Principles That Can Make or Break the Marriage Relationship: No. 5 – Addictions and Character Defects

In the words of Fat Joe and Ashanti: “What’s love got to do with it babe? It’s about trust. It’s about us.” If there’s one character defect destructive enough to break a marriage, it would be dishonesty.
In his article, “Why Marriages Fall Apart,” clinical psychologist Val Farmer says, “Lies, deceit, disloyalty, secret habits, or emotional dishonesty about thoughts or feelings destroy trust and respect.” Obviously.
Cultivating trust means being honest with everything—where you are, who you are with, what you are doing, and how you feel. Admitting your mistakes, and asking for help are also pieces of the truth in marriage that builds trust. And, when a lie makes the water murky, it’s just as important to sort it out, to own up to the wrongs and to forgive.
Also important is staying close, since drifting apart from each other can lead to the lies of secret habits or disloyalty. There’s a country song about how a woman used to sit right up next to her man when he was driving the truck but then over time she shifted over to her side of the seat. The song goes on to say that he never moved. (I tried to find the lyrics, but it was impossible since nearly every country song mentions a truck.) Anyway, I like that picture since it says that closeness is always welcome, no matter what ups and downs you go through in your marriage, you can always recapture the intimacy. Just slide back over next to him.

Now, let’s talk about lazy.
A spouse who shifts all the burdens and responsibilities over to the other person makes a marriage become more like a parent/child relationship. I used to hear about how marriage should be a 50/50 partnership. I disagree. Marriage is 110/110. Putting your all into marriage is not 50 percent. You have to do your fair share, yes, then do his fair share, then do something more. I’m not talking about household chores. I’m talking about nurturing your relationship; loving him well; loving the family you make together well; loving your household; paying your bills; cleaning up after yourself; then getting up and doing it all over again. I guess I am talking about chores a little bit. Of course you should each pull your weight there, but also in every aspect of the relationship.
I brought a lot of baggage into our marriage about men who never lifted a finger to help around the house and women who were taken advantage of and not appreciated, i.e., my dad and mom. My solution as a newlywed? Don’t do anything. That was the only way to make sure I wasn’t taken for granted or stuck in a stereotypical housewife role.
Here’s the funny part. When we were first married I got off work about an hour before my husband. So I came home and stretched out of the futon to watch television. The first time he came home and asked what was for dinner I launched into a tirade about who did he think I was, his slave? And did he want his pipe and slippers waiting for him at the door? Turns out, he was just hungry—and curious about what was for dinner.
Our roles have shifted and evolved over time and through different seasons of work and kids, travel schedules, etc. Point is that laziness is just as out of place in a healthy marriage as someone doing everything and resenting the other person the whole time. If your attitude is that you’ll do your fair share, it will never feel fair. Instead your attitude should be like Jesus’ attitude. The Bible paints a clear picture of what that means in Philippians 2. “Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus, who, … humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death—even to death on a cross.”
I think that can relate well to marriage. Consider the other as more important than yourself. Great marriage attitude. Great follower of Jesus attitude. Look out for his interests. And when you need an attitude check, consider Jesus. I don’t think about obeying my husband that much—seems like a weird, slightly demeaning concept for a wife. However, considering Jesus obeyed God’s will even to die on a cross, puts obedience in a different light. The thing about husbands is that they may not necessarily want obedience, but they usually want respect. However you can show that will breathe life into your relationship.
Big Trouble
Farmer also lists addictions as a marriage breaker all on their own. If you’ve ever dealt with an addiction of any kind, or with someone who is addicted, you know the power an addiction can hold over someone’s life and the lives of everyone around.
While marriages can and have survived additions, the healthiest marriages are those with partners who treat their addiction and have support. I don’t have a lot of personal experience with this one, but lots of people do. If this is an issue in your marriage, someone at a recovery ministry, like Shift at Flatirons can probably help you know where to begin. At the very least they can help you understand that you’re not alone. 

Rebecca Barnes is the director of curriculum for Summit Kids Ministry at Flatirons. She’s been married to Ron Barnes almost 25 years and has three daughters. Her oldest daughter will be getting married this year, so she’s been thinking a lot about marriage lately.

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