“Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?” (Amos 3:3)
In applying that question to marriage, I’m more than a bit puzzled. I used to think that when a couple says, “I do,” in agreement with God, to “love, honor, and cherish each other, forsaking all others, til death do us part” it’s a done deal. From that day forward they have agreed to “walk together” for the rest of their lives.
They may not always agree with each other while walking through life together. But it’s assumed they will work things out so they keep trudging forward.
That assumption appears to be wrong in more cases than I care to count. Just look at the divorces going on all around you. And even with the marriages that don’t end up in the divorce courts, so many of them are truly unhealthy. It’s so, so tragic.
“For most couples, the love that they started with is not gone, but buried under years of anger, misunderstandings, and resentment.” (Quote from: Mybettermarriage.com)
They needed to work on that, and get help if their methods weren’t working. For some couples though, they have allowed themselves to drift apart and then walk away. The “magic” appears to have left the relationship.
The “Glow” of New Love
One of our pastors told our congregation of a wedding he and his wife attended recently. He described how romantic it was. The groom seemed to “glow” as he watched his bride-to-be walk down the aisle to join him. He said that it’s as if the whole room lit up with the love that was present in that room. I thought to myself, “I hope that light doesn’t go out. I’d like to see the groom a few years from now. Hopefully, he still beams when he looks at his bride walk into a room.
I’m reminded of the scripture that says, “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16)
Does the light of your love make a positive difference “to everyone in the house?” Does the way you interact in public together give the opportunity for others to say, “I want to know their God better? If that’s what God does for them, I want some of that?” Are you lining up your daily walk with each other in alignment with what you promised each other in your wedding vows?
The Agreement Walk of True Love
My husband Steve and I have been married for over 45 years. I can honestly say that he still lights up a room, in my eyes, when he enters it. I tell him that continually. It’s not that we’ve always glowingly walked in agreement. We haven’t. But when we’re going through troubled times we look for ways to build relationship bridges so we get back into agreement. Sometimes it’s a difficult journey to do this. But it’s one that we vowed on our wedding day to make. It’s something we’re both committed to do.
Yesterday I thought of a situation that reminded me of this issue of agreement. Back in 2010 former Vice President Al Gore announced that he and his wife Tipper were going to divorce. They felt they “grew apart.” I remember the tremendous waves of sadness that washed over me.
Even though I disagree with most of Al Gore’s political stands, I always thought that he and his wife were a good couple. They appeared to compliment each other with the combination of their strengths. I even thought they were an admirable couple. But not now. They took that, which was great and allowed it to “drift apart.” They no longer make the effort any longer to walk together through life, so to speak.
The Message This Communicates
William Doherty, in a Psychology Today article (titled, “Al and Tipper: We Hardly Knew Ye”) wrote the following that I think is insightful on this issue:
“More than anything else, what concerns me about the Al Gore divorce is the cultural message it reinforces. It enforces that marriages, like leaking oil, drift over time in ways that we can’t do much about, that people once mated for life get caught in different currents and wake up one day to find themselves in different seas. They are too far apart to be life partners any more.
“I do not accept this sophisticated story line for modern marriage. I do not accept the baby boom divorce mantra that ‘these things happen to the best of marriages. Lets be civilized and not show how we feel about the end of a dream.’ When it comes to divorce, I’m with the poet Dylan Thomas:
“‘Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.’”
I agree. There is too much of this “drifting apart” going on. We need to do our best to fight FOR our marriages. And we need to help others do the same. Our marriages are to reveal and reflect the love of Christ —the love that Christ, the bridegroom has for His bride. That isn’t a “so-so” type of love. It’s a “I’m committed to stand strong to fight FOR our relationship” type of love.
On this issue of not drifting apart, I’m reminded of something Dr Steve Stephens wrote in his book, “Marriage: Experiencing the Best”:
“Someone once asked Alan Alda, the famous TV star, how he managed to have such a long and successful marriage. His answer was that most relationships begin with a ‘vibrant’ love, but soon fade into ‘utter discontent.’ It’s easy to give up and forget that ‘love returns in waves… you just have to wait it out.’
“Alan Alda was right; love is like the tides of the ocean. Sometimes they come in and the passion is high. You feel the love and the relationship is wonderful. Then there are times when the tide is out —sometimes way out. The relationship is dry and lifeless. The love is gone. You look out at the sea and wonder if the tide will ever return. But if you’re patient and stay at the beach, romance will return. You will feel love again.”
I believe it takes a lot of intentionality though to stick to this mission. It’s not just a passive waiting. That is, unless you’re waiting in prayer because your partner is on a stubborn streak. And even then, there is intentionality in looking to join hands together again when the timing is right.
Drifting Back Together in Agreement
I’m reminded of the video of the two otters who were drifting along in life and what happened afterward:
Did you see how the one otter was intentional in finding a way to hold hands together again?
I believe this is what we need to do with each other all through our married life. Staying in love isn’t as natural to us as much as “falling in love” can be. That is because of the excitement that happens in the beginning. (There are many bio-chemical reasons for this.) However, we CAN add upon and grow our love for each other, if we are intentional in agreeing to do what it takes to do that.
Sometimes, we need to be reminded of this over and over again to pay attention. So here goes. Don’t allow yourselves to go too long in different directions. Be intentional, and find ways to bridge your differences. Weather the hard times TOGETHER, and put romance back into your marriage. (We have ideas for you posted in the Romantic Ideas topic.) Dream together, plan together, walk together, and don’t buy the lie that “these things happen” —as far as marriages splitting up. Fight the movement of the tide.
This is your reminder.
“Be imitators of God, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Ephesians 5:1-2)