Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Positive but not Pretending (in our marriages)

The words felt like someone punched me in the stomach. I was shocked. Really, should I be though? It seems to happen more often than not these days. My mouth hung open as my friend told me about another friend whose marriage has crumbled.

My thoughts spun as the tears flowed when I finally was able to process the information. While I haven’t talked to my friend all too recently, it doesn’t feel all that far in the past that our last conversation occurred. Did I fail her by not being there during the season that led up to this outcome? What could have been done to prevent it? Is there some way I can reach out now to let her know how saddened I am by this news? My heart hurts for her, her husband, her children... and honestly, for me. How is it that I never see these things coming? And if it continues to happen to so many people that I hold dear to my heart, does that mean my marriage can break, too?

I just read a post this morning about our part in helping not the unions of those around us. Author Sheila Wray Gregoire's second point about watching the way we talk about our husbands really struck a chord with me. Most likely because it is the area I feel I need to most work. As I’ve been thinking about her article and my friend’s situation, I can’t help but wonder if there is some sort of middle ground here.

Thinking back on this friendship, I cannot recall any moments where my friend spoke negatively about her spouse. She may have in the recent season where I became rather absent in her life... but it just doesn’t seem to me like she would have. Assuming she didn’t talk negatively about her spouse, how do you get from a point of no complaining to a shattered family? Is there some middle ground between speaking positively about our spouse and still being authentic about our life’s circumstances?

Do you assume that many around you have good marriages? Does it appear that those couples who greet you with a smile at church on Sunday have it all together? What about the people who display their affection publicly and often? I hardly ever question the status of marriages where couples share similar hobbies and get out often. Yet, they are all still at risk… including yours and mine.

I’m discouraged. How do we move from pretending we all have it together to getting real with one another? Where are we able to go to talk about the difficulties we have in our marriages and still be encouraged to stick them out? I’ve found it in my community. We’re pursuing marriages that honor God together and yet we are still real that we struggle. There are times where we’ve lost that loving feeling but we know there are covenants involved. We take that seriously and encourage each other to persevere. Do you have people you can surround yourself with who will be authentic?

Nobody has a perfect marriage. If we can just understand this foundational truth, I think we can be honest about our marriage struggles with trustworthy people. Once we are honest, others will open up as well. Where we can find authenticity and safety, we can find encouragement and growth.

So as we encourage one another to speak positively about our husbands, let's also be real. Tossing the complaining aside doesn't mean we need to pretend we have it all together. It simply means we need to honor God with our conversations. With the right community, we can share our heartaches and be encouraged to make marriages last all at the same time.
"Who may worship in your sanctuary, Lord? Who may enter your presence on your holy hill? Those who lead blameless lives and do what is right, speaking the truth from sincere hearts. Those who refuse to gossip or harm their neighbors or speak evil of their friends. Those who despise flagrant sinners, and honor the faithful followers of the Lord, and keep their promises even when it hurts. Those who lend money without charging interest, and who cannot be bribed to lie about the innocent. Such people will stand firm forever." (Psalm 15 NLT)


  1. It's so hard to help sometimes. I am by nature a "fixer." I have a tendency to want to help friends through trials and at the same time, strive to assist them in reaching a solution. And when I see my friends in pain and know there really is nothing I can do to "fix" that ache, my heart breaks and I feel helpless. The best thing you can do for your friend is assure her that you will not only walk with her during the hurt, but will be there for the healing too.

    I agree that we must be conscious of the way we speak about our husbands, especially in front of our children. I also agree that authenticity is essential (I tire of pretending in general very quickly). Yet, I recognize that finding the balance between positivity and authenticity can be challenging at times. I think if our speech is prompted by a desire to hurt, berate, belittle or disrespect then we are wise to hold our tongue. Yet, I do think we can share our frustrations, whether it's about a spouse, child, co-worker, etc... with grace. For me, it all comes down to the heart we choose to bring to our conversations. Authenticity alone isn't sufficient. But, authenticity guided by love can help us express our frustrations in an honorable manner.

  2. So, true, Kelly. There are so many thoughts to touch on with this topic that it can't fit all into one blog post. I agree whole-heartedly with you on our words. Heartchecks are something I find God prompting me to do numerous times throughout my days lately. I'm just sad about this. And yet, want to love and honor God through it all.