My children have exhibited some characteristics since birth that inspire me even as they put me on my P's and Q's about what I'm in for in a few short years. This week, I found myself thinking about the benefits of these characteristics in marriage. AJ's perseverance, Ana's tenacity, and their strength, can work for good between a husband and wife.
While perseverance and tenaciousness can be used as synonyms, they have different connotations for me. Perseverance connotes trying again. When something isn't working, try again. Sometimes we'll catch our son struggling to accomplish something, and he'll tell himself out loud, "try again". Once he's achieved his goal, he tells himself, "good boy, good boy." In marriage, there are times where things aren't really working. A common culprit is miscommunication. In his book Good to Great in God's Eyes, Chip Ingram writes:
Communication is the meeting of meanings, and I haven't communicated with my wife until she knows what's really on my heart and mind. I also haven't heard her until I understand what's on her heart--not just what she said or did, but what was really behind it. (pg. 51)I love this definition of communication: "the meeting of meanings". If you're not getting what your spouse is saying, listen again; if your spouse doesn't seem to understand you, don't walk away before you explain it again--even better if you can try a different way to explain your thoughts. And when you've accomplished understanding each other, celebrate this meeting of your hearts.
Tenacity brings to mind clinging to something with all your might. Our daughter is great at doing this. She has a surprisingly strong grip for such a little baby. But I believe this tenacity got her through the several days of labor that exposed her to loads of medications and whatever may have been happening in my body that could have put her life at risk. It also probably helped her during those lonely days in the hospital nursery. This characteristic is especially helpful in the difficult times of marriage, when desperation may threaten to set in. When everything is falling apart--or seems to be--and you're not even sure it's worth it anymore, hang on. Hang on for all you're worth because marriage was never meant to be a temporary set-up, a feel good all the time relationship, or a construct of the law. God meant it to be for life--meant it to be sacred. Which means that as life journeys through its ups and downs, your marriage should be there right along with them. This does not apply to you if you're in a relationship with an abusive spouse. It is not God's desire for you to be raped, beaten, belittled, controlled or otherwise abused by your husband/wife.
In closing, let's consider strength. Both my babies were born early and both have been strong from birth--strong cries, strong personalities, physical strength. The strength of a Godly marriage lies in God. He created marriage, and thus, understands all its nuances and what it takes for marriage to work. If you and your spouse have a deepening relationship with God, you will each draw closer to Him and each other. An easy image to remember this is to picture a triangle with God being at the apex, and you and your spouse standing at the left and right corners of the triangle. As each of you moves closer to the apex, the distance between those corners gets shorter until you become unified in vision and purpose with God. A similar thing happened on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2, when unity in God (not man) created the atmosphere for God's Spirit to be poured out on His people. Pretty powerful stuff this marriage thing. In being "one flesh" with my husband and us being under the shadow of the Almighty (Psalm 91:1), we are the closest manifestation of the image of God. The Bible says in Genesis 1:27, "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them." He created Eve for Adam, to be his partner. Their cleaving together, their union, glorified God and reflected His image.
Even today, God upholds His standard--going so far as to equate the relationship between Christ and the church to that of a man and his wife (Ephesians 5:21-33). Marriage isn't to be like that hot-air-balloon cloud I mentioned, becoming disfigured and tossed about by whatever winds of circumstance may come its way. God's concept of marriage is holy and finds its roots deep in Him.