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Dear Newly Weds,
If I were to ask each of you, “what are your goals?” or “what is your goal?” in marriage, how would you answer? If you are like most people, you might say to make each other happy or to have a happy marriage. That is a very common answer.
In fact many well intentioned people are working diligently to achieve certain goals or have a certain purpose in what they are doing in their marriage. They are passionate and giving their best effort day after day. The problem is not that they are passionate and working hard to achieve certain goals or that they have a certain purpose in marriage or they are doing their best. The problem is they have the wrong goals and wrong purpose.
For example here are some of the common goals men often adapt in their marriage and personal lives:
*I must make my wife happy.
Wow! I tried so hard to accomplish this one! It was a frustrating and exhausting experience. When I was trying to make Rosemary (my wife) happy, I constantly tried to guess what she would say or how she would feel. About the time I thought I had it figured out, it changed. Also, when she wasn’t happy, I blamed her for causing me to fail at making her happy. What a vicious cycle!
*I must make enough money to buy whatever my family needs and wants.
Many times I said yes when I knew I should have said no. I always felt guilty because I didn’t make enough money to keep up with whoever it was we were keeping up with! The result is that I worked all the overtime I could (averaged 60 hours per week). Also, buying on credit was just too easy. It seemed we always were struggling to get caught up.
*My children must not have the negative experiences I had growing up.
The tug of war was between watching someone experience suffering that could have been avoided and having unrealistic expectations. Often I would feel sorry for Matt and step in to resolve or protect. The truth was I couldn’t protect him from all negative experiences and some lessons in life require negative experiences!
*I/we will have everything we deserve.
That I/we issue caused some problems. If I chose to sacrifice for Rosemary or Matt to get what they deserved, I expected them to return the favor. When that didn’t happen I began to harbor resentment.
*I must be strong and not show emotion or ask for help.
If this is my goal, the dominate emotion will be anger. Stuffing emotions sends the wrong message to Rosemary and sets the wrong example for Matt. A wise person acknowledges his strengths and weakness and seeks help.
Some of the common goals women often adapt in their marriage and personal lives include:
*I must have both a fulfilling career and a fulfilling marriage (home life).
To fill up is to make full or complete. Even if you own a business and make lots of money, it will not complete you as a person. Are you trying to be “Wonder Woman?” If something is full, it is full. There is no room for more. God never intended for us to be fulfilled through a career or marriage.
*I must know how to make our family look good in every situation.
It is common for a woman to think that everyone and everything is a direct reflection on her. She is usually offended if others in the family do not make themselves presentable.
*I must always feel special about my marriage.
This is not a realistic expectation and if Rosemary holds me responsible for making her feel special, trouble is on the way! It is possible for me to avoid hurting her feelings, but I can’t control them and often can’t influence them.
*I must maintain control to avoid failure.
Show me a person who needs to be in control and I’ll show you are person who is controlled by fear. To attempt to be in control is to not trust God. That is why over 365 times, in the Bible, God says “do not live in fear.”
*I must maintain independence; I can’t become too dependent.
Say what!?!? God’s goal is interdependence, first in our relationship with Him and then in our marriage relationship. To depend on someone is to trust them and allow them the privilege of serving and helping.
*I must look a certain way all the time.
Certainly the desire to be presentable is to be commended. But this is an unrealistic expectation. If we measure success by the way we look, we miss the mark God has for us.
*I must feel a certain way all the time.
If we measure success by the way we feel, we are not measuring by God’s standard. God wants us to put faith first.
*My dream of a career, marriage and family must come true.
There is a difference between a dream and a prayerfully chosen realistic goal. If we allow our dreams to set the course of our lives, we will live in turmoil, stress and conflict.
*I must speak what I feel, because it is the truth.
Sometimes feelings line up with the truth and sometimes they don’t. God wants me to consider how, when and with what words I speak. Communication is much better understood and effective if we speak what we know rather than what we feel.
Some of the lies both men and women wrestle with include:
*I must have a dynamic career to be successful.
*Money will solve our problems.
*I am making these sacrifices to earn more and have a dynamic career for my family.
*I must succeed in every domestic and career endeavor.
*Because we work hard, we deserve these things now, even if we have to life in debt.
*I should feel respected and appreciated at all times.
*My wife shouldn’t let her emotions interfere with our/my goals.
*It is my job to solve the problems in our marriage, home and lives.
*When I make a decision, my wife should accept it and just trust me.
*He should know when I’m not interested in or ready for sex.
*Good parents will deny no social or economic opportunity to their children.
*He should understand how I feel.
*All our problems will be solved in this marriage and everything bad worked out.
*Everything good in our relationship will automatically get better.
*Marriage will make me a different person.
*My responsibility ends with providing and protecting.
*We should never have conflict.
Scriptures for Marriage and Family
“So we make it our goal to please him (God).” 2 Cor. 5:9
“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to
him must believe that he exists and rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Heb. 11:6
“My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest.” Isa. 32:18
“Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain...” Psalm 127:1
“The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.” Proverbs 14:1
“But each one should be careful how he builds. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work.” 1 Cor. 3:10b-13
“The LORD declares to you that the LORD himself will establish a house for you:” 2 Sam. 7:11
“Therefore, everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” Matt. 7:24
“Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand....Or again, how can anyone enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can rob the house.” Matt. 12:25b, 29
“For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything.” Heb. 3:4
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” Phil. 2:3
“The man said, ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman, for she was taken out of man.’ For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” Gen. 2:23,24
“The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.” Gen. 2:25
“Has not the Lord made them one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth.” Mal. 2:15