“… and the Ugly”: part 1

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In my first Indifferent Muddle post, I referenced Emerson Eggerichs’ Love & Respect, a book I recommend highly. I mentioned how he and the Byerlys, of Generous Husband and Generous Wife, speak of good-willed spouses, husbands and wives who do have goodwill in their hearts toward each other. It was in that first post that I discussed that not all marriages have spouses who are still good-willed, hence the Indifferent Muddle.

I tend to see things as being on a continuum instead of terms of black and white, and marriages are no exception. As I’ve been thinking about all of this, I see the marriage continuum as resembling this little graphic:

Marriage continuum

Having dealt with the Muddle, I want to address those marriages that have moved from generous good-will, past the Muddle into, erm, well…, for want of a better word, Hades.

As I’ve stated before, I highly recommend Eggerichs’ L&R; that being said, I do have one caveat. The book is directed toward “good-willed” marriages; not that this is a crime, mind you. He freely admits that the husbands and wives that he writes about, who are having communication difficulties, are still in love with each other and want to have great marriages together. These marriages aren’t really “on the rocks”; as Eggerichs points out, neither husband or wife hates or even dislikes the other, but through hurt and misunderstanding have come to a rocky place in their marriage. 

But he realizes that his audience isn’t in Hades.

The Fly In The Ointment

Okay, it’s time to “tell the truth and shame the devil,” as the old saying goes. None of us are ever keen on airing dirty laundry in public, and we in the Church are among the world’s best when it comes to evading uncomfortable truths and topics. We can mumble, harrumph, and mouth pious platitudes with the best that the world has to offer when it comes to avoiding the ugly truths we don’t want to talk about. But we all know that despite all our preaching about the blessedness of marriage, the dirty little secret is that there are some “christian” marriages that aren’t so much “made in heaven” as they are spawned in Hades.

As I’ve mentioned in past postings, I have been participating and posting in a non-Christian forum, and I am reading of situations in which all traces of good-will and generosity are gone. I’m talking about marriages where name-calling, disrespect and animosity aren’t just occurrences, but an entire way of life. But here’s what’s killing me; I’m also reading of similar marriages on christian marriage fora.

It’s heartbreaking. As I’ve said before, marriage isn’t supposed to hurt.

I am not the only person reading/dealing with people who are in Hades-type marriages. Recently, Paul Byerly, of Generous Husband, wrote a blog post that, for him, was quite unusual; it was entitled My Nightmare Marriage. Don’t let the title throw you; when he says “nightmare”, he means “nightmare,” as in a bad dream he experienced. In the comments section of his post, I asked if he knew what might have triggered such a dream, and he wrote of trying to help people who were in such marriages, in recent months; he thought it might have caused his dream.

Both Paul and I write for christian audiences, and so these nightmarish, Hades marriages that we come in contact with are “christian” marriages. We understand that the world gets marriage and sex wrong, and so we’re not surprised when non-christian marriages go south, but the truth that the church tries to ignore is that christian marriages go south, too. And people are hurting because of our desire to hide the, oh so ugly.

“Invested Selfishness”

In writing about the Indifferent Muddle, I spoke about marital drift. I said that no one intends to direct their marriage into the Muddle, but through indifference, care-lessness, and what I call “casual selfishness,” marriages end up in the backwaters and eddies that are the Muddle.

Care-lessness? – yes, not having a care, just drifting. Not being intentional in working on the marriage.
Casual selfishness? – yes, not intending to take from your spouse, but making choices that add up to “Me uber alles.”

But then there is Invested Selfishness, where one intentionally looks out for #1. For this person,  marriage has become a life-enhancement accessory. When it comes to trying to define someone who has come to invest in their selfishness, there’s no way I could begin to provide a catalog of the different methods by which those invested in their personal selfishness work to create a Hades.

I could try to come up with different character types, such as the Shrew or the Man-Child, the Terrorist or the Princess, to try to categorize the different ways by which a spouse makes a home a Hell, but again, I would run the danger of leaving your particular sin off the list. Instead, I think that a better indicator for judging your marriage is simply your reaction to being in your own home.

Decades ago, I heard a minister say that Christians are ambassadors of Christ’s kingdom here on earth, and that a christian home is like an embassy of heaven. From that statement, I’ve had the idea that a christian home should be a sanctuary, a place where the stresses of the world can’t enter and where God’s peace and love abides. For me, leaving work every day and driving about twenty miles to my home was just that. Entering my home at the end of a workday was pure heaven for me.

Contrast that to someone whose home is a Hades. In my reading, I’ve come across such statements as:

“I have to take Tums in order to enter my house.”
“Lately, I realized that I started driving slower as I neared our home. Apparently, my subconscious mind didn’t want me to arrive.”
“I’m spending more time at work or at the gym in order to spend less time at home.”
“I find that the best part of my life is when my wife has to travel on business. Is that wrong?”

I realize that, as Christians, we are expected to put on our “I’m blessed” face for the world and make like everything is just peachy-keen, but be honest with yourself: can you identify with any of the above statements? Or maybe you have your own version of these aversion statements? Plain and simple, if your home is not your sanctuary from the world, where do you see yourself on the Marriage Continuum?

In my Indifferent Muddle post, I gave some suggestions for trying to move your marriage from the slough of the Muddle back onto the road of a good marriage. In my next post, I want to piggy-back on some ideas that Paul B. made in HIS follow-up post, and resurrect some of my old posts that can help someone dealing with a Hades in their home.

More to come…

CSL

Disclaimer: I am not a counselor, doctor, or pastor. For that matter, Wife says I don’t play well with others. My advice and comments come from my concern for hurting Christian husbands and wives. Someone once said to me, “Church shouldn’t hurt”, and I believe the same thing goes for marriage. I’m going to call ‘em as I see ‘em, but please, don’t take my word as gospel. Yes, read what I say, pray about what I say, but do your own “due diligence.”

 

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“Salvation Is Of The Jews” [link]

I have put up a new post on my other blog. If interested, you can read it on CSL On The Bible.

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Smack Dab In The Muddle, pt. 2

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In my last post, I wrote about the state that many marriages find themselves in, that of the Indifferent Muddle. In this condition, husband and wife plod through their married life with a growing indifference in how they live in their marriages, since the marriage is carried on by rote. Oh, if asked, each will say, “I love my husband/wife!”, but maybe, if pressed about desire and attraction for their spouse, they will agree with the old Amish saying, “Cooking lasts.” Passion, however? E-e-eh, not so much. Continue reading

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Smack Dab In The Muddle, pt. 1

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Many of the authors and bloggers I read make it a point to emphasize generosity and good-will. Two of my favorite bloggers are Paul and Lori Byerly, authors the Generous Husband and Generous Wife blogs (I read them every morning, without fail.) Another example would be Emerson Eggerichs, author of Love & Respect, who peppers his writings with statements on how most spouses are not evil jerks and witches, but truly do have good-will for their mates (a statement with which I agree, by the way). Continue reading

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“Sow Where You’re Planted” [link]

There is a new post on my other blog, CSL On The Bible, if you should be so inclined…

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July 27, 2017 · 11:49 pm

“Why A Rabbi?”: The Silent Years [link]

There is a new post on my other blog, CSL On The Bible, should you be inclined to read it.

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July 12, 2017 · 6:41 am

Point to Ponder…

Recently, I came across a statement by a man who is contemplating divorce due to his sexless marriage, and just the wording made me want to put this out as a warning.

Love is a perishable commodity.

There are so many ways I could go with this, such as taking the opposite tack, that love, if it is true love, is eternal, or that God’s love is unconditional. Yup, all that.

But we need to realize that love is not something to presume upon. If we abuse love, it may very well wither and die. Hence the well-known Walk-away Wife and Walk-away Husband syndromes.

But here’s the catch: yes, love may be perishable, but the fact is that we are the only ones who can kill it.

Jes’ sayin’.
CSL

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July 5, 2017 · 9:43 pm

46 Years

We celebrated our 46th anniversary today. It’s been a great day.

Church and communion this morning, out for Mexican this afternoon, followed by my first Haggen-Daaz. Topped it off with viewing The Shack tonight.

Yeah, it’s been a great day.

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Be The Voice

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There’s a way to handle a woman, said the wise old man.
Simply love her.
~ From Camelot.

Earlier this month, Julie Sibert, of Intimacy In Marriage did an excellent post for wives on Three Ways To Like Sex (When You Hate Your Body). It was an excellent post, and as I read it, this song from Camelot came drifting back to my mind. You know that I have a problem with the way that the today’s church has twisted Paul’s instructions for husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church. Continue reading

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“Why A Rabbi?”: A Slight Detour [link]

I have a new post up on my CSL On The Bible blog.

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