The Survival Stage - Part Two

Half of the married couples in our country will not make it through the Survival Stage. (Check out the two previous articles on Spirituality and Marriage.)  They can’t take the fire.  Precious metals have to go through fire to be perfected.  So do our relationships with God and with our spouse.

What does it take to get through the fire?  Commitment - conviction - perseverance to continue no matter what.  When I hear newlyweds say they’ll just divorce if things don’t work out, I know things are not going to work out for them.

Every relationship will go through the fire, and everyone makes their own choice whether to continue or not, regardless of the circumstances.  If you and your spouse refuse to allow the word “divorce” in your vocabulary and thoughts, you will never have to face it.  It all starts in your thinking.  Just don’t go there – divorce cannot be an option.  Make the choice to commit your life to God and to your spouse.  (If you are not yet married, I would advise you NOT to marry someone unwilling to commit their life to you and God.)

The good news is you WILL get through the fire.  If you and your spouse both aspire for a healthy marriage, together, and with the help of God, you can achieve it.  Your relationship will rise to a new level of love you could not have imagined before.  That level is a precious gift from God that He desires for your marriage.

That brings us to the second part of stage two.  This is where you and your spouse discover the keys to compromising and putting each others needs above your own.  Compromise and selflessness are both required for peace and harmony in a marriage and also in our relationship with God.  Along with commitment, they will get you through the fire.

Once you get through the fire, you settle into a comfortable, "I can live with you for the rest of my life" relationship. While those “crazy-about-you” feelings may fade a bit towards your spouse and even towards God, you will discover a deeper love that cannot be measured by feelings.  Without those fairy-tale emotions, we face a different phase of love that depends on a profound, intangible love.  One of the definitions for intangible says “not definite or clear to the mind.”  It’s difficult to put words to it.

When I think of the love my husband has shown me for over 30 years now, and the love I've known from God for over 20 years, many of the same adjectives come to mind.  Loyal, dependable, committed, looking out for my best needs, loving, devoted, strong, a solid rock, my savior, just to mention a few.  I understand more about God’s comparison of Christ and the church to marriage when I see the love of my husband towards me.  Those are the qualities that now make me feel "crazy-about-you" towards him and God.

Ephesians 5:32 calls it a profound mystery.  God gave me my husband to love me as Christ did the church.  My husband is a human example of God’s love to me, especially at the times I don’t act so loving towards him.  God still loves me when I don’t act so loving towards Him either.   

There are two options for married couples: fight through the storms of marriage and stay together or give up and divorce.  In our society, 50% of marriages end in divorce (60% in Florida).  Half of the couples quit during the storm or in the midst of the fire.  They can’t take the heat.

While going through the storms of marriage is very difficult (I certainly felt like quitting), it’s worth it all to persevere and work out the problems.  This is the best time to “figure it out”.  If you don’t, you’ll carry the same issues (garbage) on to any future relationships, only magnifying the heat of the storms to come.  

You may think another woman’s husband looks more attentive, more helpful, more loving, but I promise you, there would be another set of issues you’d have to deal with if you were married to him, along with the issues you didn't deal with in your previous marriage.  Figure out how to deal with problems in your first marriage; they only become more complicated in subsequent relationships.  Not to mention, once you've gone through the fire, you become much better equipped to face future trials.  But you have to get through the fire, first.

The second part of the Survival Stage is the time where we’ve been through the storms and figured out how to make it work.  We’ve been given the tools to deal with troubles through our perseverance.   We are now readily prepared to face future issues.  Harsh words and feelings seldom rear their ugly heads.  We find security in the status quo.  We find peace and comfort in our relationship.

Our relationship with God is the same.  We come to a level of comfort where we “know that we know that we know”.  We’ve learned how to deal with issues and overcome future problems easier with the help of God.  We lean on Him and strive to give up our “self” to live life according to His will.

In both our marriage and spiritual relationship with God, we find contentment.  We no longer need the emotional highs to stoke the fire. We understand commitment. We find happiness in our routine to maintain both our relationship with God and with our spouse.  Most people spend their lives in this stage.


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