I will never forget the words of a close friend who, when talking about his marriage some years ago, said: "We never fight. Never!" Those words were like a knife to my soul.
I had been married a few years at the time and fighting had become an unwelcome weekly ritual. (Ok, sometimes it was daily or even hourly). I wanted the secret to his perfect marriage. I figured I would sit down at the feet of this marriage master and absorb every word. You see, I needed help! (I should come clean and say I still do.)
I didn't have the perfect marriage, but boy did I want it. When I had that secret, we would be like Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. No worries, no problems. Peace and harmony with no conflict in sight. Sound like a dream? Of course.
After 17 years of marriage, I have concluded that there are two types of people in the world: married people who fight and unmarried people who think marriage will end all the fights.
Did I forget to tell you about my close friend's secret to eternal married euphoria? Did the love guru ever tell me? No. You see, he got divorced six months later. I can't tell you how surprised I was. He really had me believing he had the secret to a perfect marriage. The truth is he and his wife never fought because they never talked. Any disagreements were quickly squashed and tossed under the rug.
If you toss a problem under the rug, it will come back and bite both of you unless you come to grips with it. Alcoholics learn the first step to sobriety is admitting they have a problem. Faith teaches that confronting selfishness, anger and resentment with humility and honesty is a must for any relationship to thrive.
When Adam and Eve disobeyed God and ate the forbidden fruit, their initial reaction was to run away and hide. Take time to read the story in Genesis Chapter three. This ageless story reveals so much about human nature and relationships. Our great, great, great, great (you get the idea) grandparents ran from the problem and hid like children who just emptied the cookie jar.
God could have simply tossed them aside and forgotten them. He could have created other humans. After all, they chucked His command to the dirt and intentionally disobeyed him.
The encouraging part of the story is God's reaction. Genesis tells us he went to the garden to restore the relationship and move forward; they wanted to pretend everything was just peachy. While Adam and Eve were blaming everybody but themselves for their strained relationship with their Creator, God was doing everything He could to get them to come clean, admit guilt and fellowship with Him again.
I'm learning (notice I didn't say "learned") that marriage is a life-long commitment that must be constantly managed and massaged. Confront the difficulties (sometimes with outside help), forgive readily and without judgment and learn to "agree to disagree" without bitterness in your hearts.
Be like God and respond to conflict with kindness and restoration in your heart. The happiest people are peacemakers who don't hold grudges.