Summary: We commit ourselves in marriage for better or for worse because both our equally possible. Conflict is just as real a potential as cooperation.
The question was asked of a class of Catholic girls-"What
is matrimony?" One girl confidently stood and said,
"Matrimony is a state of terrible torment which those who enter are
compelled to undergo for a time to fit them for
heaven." "No, no," said the priest, "You have given the
definition of purgatory."
"Let her alone," said the Archbishop, "Maybe she's right."
Her definition of the word was wrong, but her description of
the experience of many in the state of marriage was right.
Matrimony can be a purgatory rather than the paradise God
intended it to be.
Marriage can produce a paradise, or it can reduce a
paradise to ashes by means of the fires of conflict. Marriage
is a paradox. It can be the best or the worst state. We
commit ourselves in marriage for better or for worse because
both our equally possible. Conflict is just as real a potential
as cooperation. There are those who tell us that even conflict
can have its values, and there is truth in this perspective.
What of the couple who reached the height of their
argument, and the wife exploded, "I wish I'd taken mother's
advice and never married you." The husband said, "Do you
mean to say your mother tried to stop your marrying me?"
She nodded. "Well now," sighed the husband, How I've
wronged that woman." Whatever value was gained, it is
doubtful that the quarrel can be counted a positive factor in
marriage bliss, even if there are poets who claim it is so.
O we fell out, my wife and I,
O we fell out, I know not why,
And kissed again with tears.
And blessing on the falling out
That all the more endears,
When we fall out with those we love,
And kiss again with tears.
The only reason there is any truth to this poetry is
because some mates only show affection to each other when
they make up. Just like some children can only get attention
by causing a disturbance, or by getting in trouble. It is not
the conflict that is of any value, but the peace settlement,
and the kiss of peace. Anyone with a taste for kissing,
however, knows that its better without any salty sauce from
the eyes. Kissing again with tears is not a gourmet delight.
Far superior is the relationship where affection does not
depend on conflict.
I read of a wise man who quarreled with his wife during
their 50th year of wedded life. He tucked this note under his
wife's pillow. "My darling bride, let's put off quarreling
until after the honeymoon is over. Your devoted husband."
Here was a husband who took the high road to marital bliss
by avoiding quarrels instead of the low road of squeezing
some value out of conflicts. Carlton could write-
And if ever we meet in heaven
I shouldn't think it queer
That we loved each other the better
For the way we quarreled here.
My response is-
When we meet in heaven I should think it odd
If we loves each other better
For disobeying God.
It is always true that God can bring good out of evil, but
it is never wise to do evil in the hopes that good will come of
it. Our objective as Christians and as mates is to live in
harmony and never desire discord. What Paul says to
Christians in general applies to mates in particular. In Eph.
4:31-32 he wrote, "Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger,
brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be
kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each
other, just as in Christ God forgave you."
Following this path will lead to successful marriage, and
Peter tells husbands how they can be successful in seeing
that their marriage follows this path. Any husband who will
follow Peter's advice will not only be a successful husband,
but he will be an exceedingly happy husband. Any wife
whose husband treats her with the respect involved in what
Peter says in this one verse will lavish upon him more
devoted love than all the harem of Solomon. What does
Peter say a husband must do to be successful? He must first-
I. RESPECT HER EXISTENCE AS A PERSON.
Peter says the husband is to be considerate as he lives
with his wife. This means that a husband is to care about
what his wife needs as a person to make her life fulfilled.
She is a person who has special needs and desires, and it is a
husbands obligation to know what they are. To ignore
another's needs is to lack respect for them as persons. Wives
need to be treated as people worth understanding. Phillips
translation puts it, "You husbands should try to understand