My current ministry consists primarily of relationship conferences for churches. Almost each week someone comes to the product table to tell me they are an exception to something I just said. They want to tell me why their marriage is different. These are believers who have trusted Jesus Christ as their Lord. They know they don't stand a chance against death; but when it comes to marriage they think they know more than God about great relationships. Why are there so many divorces among Christians? Why are Christian couples living as singles under the same roof? Why are there so many depressed wives and distant husbands? Why do we have so much conflict and arguing?
Marriages have always had conflict. Marital conflict started in Genesis 3 and continues today. Years ago when people actually read books there was an ad in the newspaper which stated: "For Sale: Set of practically new Britannica Encyclopedias. Best Offer. No longer needed. Got married last weekend. Wife knows everything."
More recently a woman said all that her husband wanted to do is watch action movies. "For our anniversary I blew up his car, videoed it, and put it on YouTube so that he could watch it over and over."
Sometimes conflict starts immediately. A bride and groom got into a fight over feeding the wedding cake to each other. They were arrested for disturbing the peace. The police reported that they started fighting when she told him to take it easy, he was being too rough. Fighting ensued when she responded by shoving cake in his mouth. They were released to go on the honeymoon, but they still have a court date.
It usually takes time for us to realize that the honeymoon is over. I have a message entitled "Dated Jeckyl and Married Hyde." It is an effort to prepare people for the end of the honeymoon. Do you remember when your honeymoon ended? A man was fixing the attic fan and said that as he lifted himself from the ladder into the attic he scratched his forehead on a crossbeam. As he crawled along the attic, he picked up splinters in both hands and cut one hand while replacing the fan belt. On the way down the ladder he missed the last two rungs and turned his ankle. When he limped into the kitchen his wife took one look at him and asked, "Are those your good pants?" He knew the honeymoon was over.
A little boy named Ken arrived in a new town and met a friend named Kasey. They played together all summer and had a great time together. They climbed trees, played ball, and they were good buddies until school started. On the first day of kindergarten Kasey rang his doorbell all dressed up in a frilly dress. When Ken saw her he broke down crying and ran to his room. When the mom asked him what was wrong the only thing he said over and over was, "Kasey, Kasey, she's a girl." Eventually I found out my wife was a girl.
It is often the little things. Take lighting. My wife wants pretty light, a side table, and a lamp with character. I don't care about pretty. I want powerful—1500 watts of bright light over my head just like at a ball game. My wife even adjusts the shutters during the day to get just the right amount of ambient light.
For my wife eating is about presentation. Salad forks, dessert dishes, beautiful plates are all part of a meal. For crying out loud, I just want to eat a hot dog in my chair with the lights on bright so that I can feel as if I'm at a ballgame. Speaking of watching ballgames, women have no concept of how large a big screen is really supposed to be. That is probably why someone said, "I wonder if men and women are really suited for each other. Perhaps they should live next door and visit occasionally." Why is it so difficult for men and women to love each other and live in the same house?
One reason is that the world says that love is a noun. You have to find it and then fall into it. As one guy said, "I never fell in love but I stepped in it a couple of times." Of course if you fall in it you can fall out of it. Scripture teaches that love is a verb. Marriage is not a condition; it is an activity. The honeymoon is about desire, but great marriages are about discipline. You drift toward isolation, but you develop disciplines to grow toward intimacy. Love does not sustain a marriage; marriage sustains love.
You are not looking for resolution all of the time; you are looking for reconciliation. You are not trying to get to the point that you think alike; you want to get to the point that you think together. You will discover the difference is the dynamic. Penny and I don't always see eye to eye (it's usually too dark), but we are walking hand in hand. Not only will that take you further down the road of life, but the journey will be a lot more fun and will never be boring.