Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Taking out the trash

Back to Mark and Grace Driscoll's book on marriage.  Chapter 5 is entitled 'Taking out the trash'.  But it is not about who puts the bins out.  It deals with sin. 
'If you are married, you will have conflict.  You cannot avoid it because marriage is an unconditional commitment to an imperfect person.'
The Driscolls speak of the 'four horsemen' who are certain to multiply relational pain and result in marital death.  They are, criticism, contempt, defensiveness and stonewalling.  They suggest that husbands do 85% of stonewalling.

They quote Gary Thomas who declares that, 'Couples don't fall out of love so much as they fall out of repentance.' 

Although I used to be a Methodist minister, and knew that John Wesley's marriage was a disaster, I did not know the details of how he had met Molly Vazeille.  Wesley was forty-eight when he was crossing London Bridge, slipped and broke his ankle.  He was taken to Molly's home.  She was a forty-one-year-old widow.  Without even a mention in Wesley's journal, the two were married eight days later.  Some biographers have referred to their marriage as 'the thirty years war.'  Wesley didn't see how his marriage should affect his ministry, writing, 'I cannot understand how a Methodist preacher can answer it to God ... to preach one sermon, or travel one day less, in a married than in a single state.'  Molly tried to travel with him for the first four years but experienced constant illness and feared the angry mobs.  She tried to get him to reduce his itinerant ministry. 
The two became bitter enemies.  She sent damaging letters to his critics and tried to destroy his ministry.  In one of his letters to her he admits to shaking her and that it 'might have made you black and blue.'  Their final years were spent apart.  Molly was dead and buried a few days before her husband was even notified.  Driscoll comments, 'The painful story of the Wesleys reminds us that there is no loving marriages apart from repentance and forgiveness.  Marriage either gets bitter or better.' 

The Driscolls suggest that the key to a good fight, that ends in reconciliation, rather than a bad fight, that ends in bitterness, is to learn to fight as friends and not enemies.  They suggest the following rules of engagement:

1. You have to decide if your spouse has committed a sin (If they have you can either overlook it and pray for them or wait for an appropriate time to address them about it).
2.  You have to decide how to deal with the conflict ('Knowing how you and your spouse respond to conflict [the tendency to fight, flight or fright] will help you know how to lovingly engage each other when frustrated).
3.  Do not flight when either of you has substances in you e.g. are drunk.
4.  Before you fight, stop and pray.
5. 'Do not use fighting with your spouse as your release valve or lightening rod.'
6.  On occasion get help from people both spouses respect.

Some other quotes:
In seasons of bitterness, we have a proclivity to blame others, most likely our spouses, for our bittrerness, as if they placed it in us through their transgression.  The truth is people, even the worst of them, do not embitter us.  Rather, they provide an opportunity, or temptation, to choose bitterness, for which we remain morally responsible.
Bitter people have a filter through which everything (past, present, and future) is viewed negatively.

No comments: