He told me an interesting story. The problem started rather simply as many young marriages do. "We were having a fight one evening. I don't even remember what it was about. But we were really steamed at each other and I decided I was going to "punish" my wife. I told her that if she was going to act that way, I would just sleep on the couch." Over time, this couple learned to handle their conflicts in this distorted, disrespectful and damaging way. God says that this type of behavior is sinful. Sometimes, his wife would take the initiative and "punish" him by sleeping on the couch. Over time, there was less forgiveness, less tolerance and less sleeping together. After a while, they stopped sleeping with each other altogether. His wife decided that she didn't want to share their bed with a man who was so unforgiving. So, she decided to move into the spare bedroom. God has stated that this type of behavior is unacceptable.
By all outward appearances, this couple was envied by their friends. This couple had a terrific facade. They both led very active lives. He would spend time with the boys watching sports and hanging out. Her friends became more important to her than her husband. People were so observant of their ability "to let each other enjoy themselves without tying the other down."
There were problems that were creeping in unaware to this couple. Their children noticed that at home, dad & mom would hardly speak to each other. They noticed that there parents would each go to their respective bedrooms in the evening and watch TV. They noticed that, at home, there was a lack of love and joy. However, the children also noticed that when they would go to church as a family, that all seemed good. At first the children enjoyed going to church because it felt like then they were a family that really loved and cared for each other. However, as the children became teenagers, they noticed the hypocrisy that their parents displayed. Their parents were one way at home, one way with their friends, and another way at church. When the children would talk to their friends, they came to realize that their parents really didn't love each other. It was all an act.
It was his son that awakened this man to what was really happening. His son casually said, sarcastically, "when I get married I want to have a wife that I don't love too, Dad." This man was so floored by his son's hurtful statement, that he didn't even know what to say or do. He just broke down and started crying. He asked himself, "what have I taught my children about love and marriage?" He realized that the last 20 years of his life have been a sham. That's when the feelings of despair and hopelessness set in. That's when he first started contemplating ending his life. Fortunately, this man sought help for his situation, deciding to get counseling for himself.
Now, the recovery from 20 years of denial and lovelessness is a long and arduous journey and I won't get into the issues that this man needed to face in counseling. However, I share his story to stop you and make you think...
How are you treating your wife? Have you two gone so far as to not share the marriage bed anymore? Maybe you haven't done that physically but emotionally. Do you sleep together, side-by-side, each nite and wonder why you're married, not feeling as if this person to whom you are married is even worth staying with? Have you given up on your love internally and just live a sham marriage?
Let me encourage you today. A pastor of mine used to say this frequently in his sermons, "it's never to late to do the right thing." So, if you've gone a long time (or even a short time) and haven't been cultivating the love and romance in your marriage, be a man and take the first step. Swallow your pride. Apologize to your wife for discarding her. Work on valuing her. Let your kids see you two in love. Get help and talk to your pastor or a Christian counselor.
Tomorrow, we are going to continue our discussion of marriage...
BE A MAN.