IF ONLY my husband and I would share the same spending habits… then our marriage would really be a cinch!
IF ONLY my husband would be a little more organized… How hard is it to make sure that bills are paid on time – instead of two days past the due date?!
IF ONLY my husband would be the more sensitive type… Sometimes, I feel like all my rich emotions are bouncing off a stoic wall…
Every person has hopes and dreams and little “if only’s.” If our husbands, in-laws and children will change, then everything will certainly be smooth sailing. We think that things would be so much simpler if we would be more similar. We would avoid disagreements, misunderstandings and confrontations. We would always be on the same page…and live happily ever after.
The question is – when is happily ever after? What is the definition of true happiness? And what is the purpose of marriage anyways?
One of the integral purposes of marriage is to foster growth and realize self-development. We think we chose our spouse because of our joint similarities. Little do we know that God chose our spouse for us because of our differences.
Marriage is a self-growth seminar. But, this growth does not happen as a result of two people living blissfully together as they enjoy each other’s mutual interests. It occurs through compromising and comprehending, giving in and giving up, and making do and making up. Therefore, God preordained that spouses should be different. These areas of potential conflict are the fertile soil for growth. He is a spendthrift; she is penny-pinching. He is laid-back; she is high-strung. He is rigid; she is inconsistent. By working and blending together to overcome their disparities, they become more balanced, refined individuals. Indeed, the differences are not “mistakes that, had you known about them, you would’ve never agreed to this marriage.” Rather, they are the very reason for the marriage!
When people accept their spouses’ shortcomings, they often do so grudgingly. It is important to keep in mind that it is possible that the reason why God gave our partner these very deficiencies is to benefit us, so that we can have an opportunity to work on these areas of contention.
This growth seminar is taken to the next level when God blesses us with an expanding family. Every child, with his or her own personality and temperament, presents yet another challenge to master. Every facet of the child’s personality is here to teach us something. This child works at a slower pace, and we are forced to teach ourselves patience. The next child craves a schedule, so we are compelled to master organization. Ordinary living becomes synonymous with growing.
At the same time, realize that working together with another person’s differences does not always translate into remodeling the person. In fact, sixty-percent of a person’s character usually will not change. Even the remaining forty-percent may or may not be altered. We must be accepting and loving, regardless if our spouse or child is living up to our expectations. (After all, a person is not motivated to change by condemnation and denunciation. Rather, when the person feels safe, loved and accepted and wants to reciprocate, he can start taking baby steps towards growth.)
When something cannot or will not be altered, we can re-frame the way we view it. For example, instead of allowing your husband’s chronic lateness to annoy you, be proud that he is delayed because he juggles so many responsibilities and accomplishes so much. Or, appreciate the perks of your husband’s laid-back attitude, which equals no pressure in the house wife’s arena.
Indeed, when one realizes his full potential and reaches perfection, he experiences a truly meaningful joy. The process of working on ourselves which God has planned out for each one of us by placing us in our Divinely-designed families is having the opportunity to achieve this perfection. The areas of clashes and conflicts are the actual enzymes which can create the synthesis of a most meaningful and delightful joy.
In summary, when we think about families that live happily ever after, we can think about happiness… after a lot of hard work to achieve perfection…