Marriage Image

That title is not a typo.

It’s not supposed to say mirror image and my keen editorial eye just missed it.

It is supposed to say Marriage Image.

I don’t write a lot about marriage here.  The reality is my husband is not a blogger.  Heck, he didn’t even marry a blogger.  His wife just turned into a blogger four years and three kids after he’d already said “I do.”  And he’s super private.  So after a few ill-fated, not preapproved, marriage posts, I learned my lesson.

So I got this one cleared first.

Let me say two things:

  • I am madly crazy nuts in love with my husband who I think is insanely handsome and bright and wise and patient and trustworthy and faithful and good.
  • Our marriage is hard sometimes.

Sometimes, it’s hard because of me.  Sometimes, it’s hard because of him.  Sometimes, it’s hard because we’re both so dang stubborn.

I feel strongly that I should be respectful of my husband.  So in those hard times, I don’t attack his character.  But I do have three girlfriends that I can talk to about the yucky stuff.  The fights.  The struggles.  The pain.

I learned something this week though about the way I could get into trouble if I’m not careful.

I have friends that are in good marriages.  Like overall their marriages just don’t seem to hit very many rough spots and they have a ton in common with their spouse and things generally go pretty smoothly.  I also have friends that are in brutal marriages.  Like marriages where the spouse is affirmatively denying they’ve ever loved their wife and I’m astonished that they’ve managed to hang in there and keep praying.  And of course I have friends with marriages like mine that have really amazing months and then really hard ones.

It is easy sometimes to fall into a pattern of commiserating:  Oh, you’re struggling so much and your husband was unkind, I totally know how that goes and boy do I feel your pain.

We find ourselves Marriage Imaging.

But what if it’s not true?  Not that it’s not true EVER, but that it’s not true at that time.  Marriage Imaging can do two things.  One, it does a disservice to your marriage if it’s going through a good patch by maligning it.  Two, it makes you start seeing the negative instead of the positive in your marriage.

Now I am ALL about girlfriends sharing their struggle.  I think it is critical that we have friends pray each other through the rough patches.  If I hadn’t had Godly women praying for me in the spring, I don’t know what I would have done.  But I think it’s also important not to diminish the work that God is doing in a marriage becoming strong or healing or solid.

I found myself in that dilemma.  And I caught myself.  Instead of responding with marriage image to a message, I stayed silent.  Then I responded with a prayer.  “I am so sorry to hear this news.  It is heartbreaking.  Can I pray for you right now?” And then I left a prayer as part of my message asking for God to intervene on the marriage’s behalf.

That did two totally DIFFERENT things than had I responded in kind with a “marriage image.”  One, my girlfriend got something she needed way more than my commiseration which never helps anything.  She got someone asking God for help.  Much more useful!  Two, it helped me realize how good God has been in this current season of my marriage and focused me on thanking God for what I have today.  Not what I had in that hard month half a year ago or what I might have a year from now.  But how completely in love I am without any glimmer of frustration or anger this week in my marriage.

So I’m going to work on avoiding marriage imaging, and pray with my friends in their marriage struggles, and express my unbridled thankfulness to God and to my spouse when we’re in a solid place.

Comments

  1. Great wisdom here! This is the best kind of friend to have too!

  2. Gindi,
    Thank you for this. While it’s helpful to have a community of married Christian women to share your struggles with and seek support, the wisest thing we can ever do is to cover the situation in prayer. We should always keep this top of mind.
    Keep fighting the good fight.

  3. Great perspective, Gindi. I can honestly say I’ve never thought of it that way, but can see now how marriage imaging can be hurtful. I guess I’ve always thought about it as being able to sympathize or being empathic, when I really need to be just listening and praying. I’ll keep this in mind for the future!!

    • Thanks Alecia – I think it so important to hear friends that are struggling, I just want to make sure I don’t start complaining back about my own marriage.

  4. Kathy Johnson says:

    This is a great post. My husband was a Physician Assistant at a large medical clinic. PAs were not allowed to eat in the doctor’s lounge so he had lunch with the nurses. One would start bad mouthing a spouse and the rest joined in. That led to a domino effect of divorce after divorce.

  5. I just had to comment on this good post. About 2 1/2 years ago I became friends with a gal who moved to my town; in fact, she and I really hit it off with a friendship that is quite strong. She and her husband moved here after they both lost jobs, etc., and their marriage also went through a rocky period and was on the mend when we met. Not too long ago she made this surprising remark: it was that she felt that she and her spouse would have likely divorced if they had stayed in their prior town because so many of their friends were separating. But here in our town and with the new friendships they had gained (many solid couples) she felt that they were surrounded by good marriages and it helped theirs by association. To be honest, the comment caught me by surprise (and happiness). Your phrase marriage image is quite astute.

    • Wow Candis! I can see how totally true that situation would be. It’s the same thing with so many behaviors but particularly pronounced with marriage if you’re around those with very negative perception on marriage. Thanks so much for sharing.

  6. I found you thru Kelly’s korner, this is a beautiful post, I am so glad I came to visit when I did :)

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