Summary: When marriages crumble, we often hear people say that they just must have been “wrong” for each other. More often than not, being right or wrong for someone depends not on some mysterious compatibility quotient, but on how willing and able we are to help
Finding Security and Significance
There are a lot of jokes and one-liners about marriage. It’s probably because as beautiful as marriage is, as set forth in the song we just heard, it’s also extremely challenging and can be pretty ugly at times.
It was George Burns who said, “I was married by a judge. I should have asked for a jury.”
Rodney Dangerfield, the man who gets no respect, says, “My wife and I were happy for twenty years. Then we met.”
And Henny Youngman has said, “The secret of a happy marriage remains a secret.”
As we continue in our series “Heaven Help the Home,” it’s my prayer that a happy and fulfilling marriage will no longer be a secret, but something that will be both understandable and attainable. Last week we looked at three different stages of marriage:
Someone pointed out to me that there is actually one more stage to marriage. Maybe we could call it the recommitment stage. What happens to many people at the reality stage is that instead of rethinking the whole thing, they recommit to their spouse. I should also have mentioned last Sunday that some of you will not go through each of these stages and you don’t have to. I know that I’ve not gone through the rethinking stage and I hope Beth hasn’t either! After 15 years, we’re still in the romance stage, right honey?
I read recently about a golden anniversary party that was thrown for an elderly couple. The husband was very moved by the occasion and wanted to tell his wife what he thought of her. She was very hard of hearing, however, and often misunderstood what he said. With many family members and friends gathered around, he toasted her and said, “My dear wife, after 50 years I’ve found you tried and true!” Everyone clapped for them, but his wife was a little irritated and asked, “What did you say?” So he repeated it again: “AFTER 50 YEARS, I’VE FOUND YOU TRIED AND TRUE!” The wife was now visibly upset and shouted back, “Well, let me tell you something after 50 years I’m tired of you, too!”
Sadly, in our culture today, marriages are under attack. According to James Dobson, 5 out of 10 marriages end in conflict and divorce. And, of the five couples that remain together, only 1 out of 10 will achieve intimacy and oneness in their partnership.
Marriage is a complex relationship, perhaps the most intricate on the face of the earth. Unfortunately, many of us don’t realize this when we say, “I do.” We may think that the dynamics of a good marriage just happen, or depend on some mysterious blend of having the “right” people together. When marriages crumble, we often hear people say that they just must have been “wrong” for each other. More often than not, being right or wrong for someone depends not on some mysterious compatibility quotient, but on how willing and able we are to help meet our spouse’s needs. In other words, spouses need to learn how to serve one another.
Secure and Significant
Larry Crabb, in his excellent book, The Marriage Builder, is troubled by what he sees in many Christian marriages. He starts off by asking a series of questions: “Why are marriages so often filled with tension …and short-lived moments of romance? Why do I sometimes face a problem within my own marriage and, after earnest prayer and brutal self-examination, remain unsure how to respond to my wife in a way that deepens our oneness? Are there real solutions that will develop true intimacy? (Pages 7-8).
I want to attempt to answer some of those questions. In our text for this morning, we will see that the commands of God for spouses are very clear. Husbands are to love their wives and wives are to submit to, and respect, their husbands. Before we get to this however, I want to establish three propositions.
Proposition #1: Our two most basic human needs are for security and significance.
We can define security as an awareness of being unconditionally and totally loved. Significance is the realization that I am valuable and that what I am doing is worthwhile.
These two needs are so important that if a person lacks either one, he or she is unable to function effectively in a marriage relationship. Security is generally of greater importance to women and significance of greater importance to men, but actually both are essential for every one of us.
Proposition #2: Our most basic problem in marriage is that we look to the wrong source for our security and significance.
I would like to suggest that God never intended a wife to find her ultimate security in her husband, nor for a husband to find his total significance through his relationship with his wife I may have inadvertently implied that last week. If we aren’t able to find our foundational security and significance in our partner, where do we find it?