The implosion of a marriage is a painful thing to witness.
A ministry couple we’ve known for years, people who genuinely loved God (I believe), have simply fallen apart before our eyes. One day everything seemed fine (to the outside observer) and the next day they were living in two different homes and are, apparently, on the fast-track for divorce.
It also happened a year ago with another couple, personal friends of ours in ministry. I wept for them, ached for both of them as their relationship ruptured, rumors spread and reputations were damaged. The dissolution of a marriage is painful for everyone involved – children, friends, church, family, coworkers, neighbors.
Adultery was exposed in another marriage within the same time frame. And it wasn’t the first time. Part of me (flesh) just wanted to channel my South Philadelphia roots and hire a hit man to administer suitable punishment to the offending party. I was mad. The wife however, was far more spiritual than I, choosing to stay and make it work through forgiveness, through wise counsel, and a lot of work. When we stand before Jesus in heaven I know there will be a huge jewel in the crown she lays at His feet…
When you don’t know the people involved, it’s easy to judge. It’s easy to point fingers and say, “someone is always at fault, it doesn’t just happen” but when you are friends with both parties, suddenly things are a little more complicated. It’s also easy to fall back on some of the classic Christian cop-outs like, “We weren’t even saved when we got married.” Or, “We must have missed God. He didn’t mean for us to be together.” Or even, “We were so young and in Bible College where everyone was getting married.” Hmm.
If you’ve been married for any length of time, you’ve probably wondered at least once (in a moment of distress) if you “missed God” when you married your spouse. (If not, hats off to you!) What if you’d married so-and-so? What if you hadn’t married at all? I think the enemy (and the world) likes to get us dwelling in the land of “what if.” If the devil can convince us that our marriage is a “mismatch,” we lose hope and quit putting forth effort when the road gets rough for some reason.
Frequently, however, what looks like a mismatch is often a case of marital mismanagement. In the same way a corporation can be mismanaged, so can a marriage. Failure to communicate, or even just a struggle with poor communication skills; lousy leadership skills; misunderstanding of motives and needs; or misplaced expectations on either (or both) sides that lead to disappointment and disillusionment.
Here’s the good news: mismanagement can be corrected, if both parties are willing to cooperate. Before you yield (or let someone you’re ministering to) yield to the “mismatched” theory, consider the possibility that mismanagement on one, or both, sides is the problem, and that can be fixed!