Lots of relationships start out well. A couple goes on a date or two, they like each other, they get engaged and eventually get married. It’s the happiest day of their lives! Six months later, they end up miserable and want to get a divorce. What happened?
This entry has been inspired by the book ‘Fit to be Tied’ by Bill and Lynne Hybels which I am reading again in search of wisdom over partnership, conflict resolution and marriage. Some parts of this entry were also taken from this book.
Put me Back Together
Deep inside we’re broken. Marred. Something is deeply wrong. In my entry about guarding the heart, we see this brokenness has taken its roots deep within us.
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” – Jeremiah 17:9 (ESV)
Lots of single men and women today are in search of a partner. Little do they know that deep inside they are broken and wounded and what they are really looking for is a healer.
They believe a myth: Marriage will heal my brokenness.
A young person who was neglected, devalued, or mistreated during his growing-up years often feels like he is drowning emotionally. Feelings swirl around inside of him so fast he fears he will get sucked under and never be able to come up.
Just then a five-foot four-inch blond -haired life preserver floats by. The young man does what any drowning person would do: He grabs on for dear life.
“Maybe she can help me. Maybe she can save me from drowning.”
The five-foot four-inch blond interprets this young man’s tight embrace as true love. True love! The storybook kind. The kind that will last a lifetime. The kind she has been searching for.
Needing a Breather
A man or woman who latches on to a life-preserver, dates ferociously for a few months, then gets married, is opening the door for disaster. One day the life-preserving spouse is going to get out of bed and say, “Please, can you give me just a little slack? A little space? You’ve been clinging to me too tightly I’m losing my breath.”
And that broken, pain-filled, drowning spouse is going to interpret that request for space as another round of rejection, or neglect or abuse – and the threat will be too much to bear.
Looking for a healer may not be exactly like the scenarios I’ve shared with you – it can be as simple as wanting to see your partner everyday, wanting to confine your partner from friends of the opposite sex, controlling some of your partner’s activities that threaten you in your brokenness.
Sometimes there are couples who are both broken and they don’t see it. They get married – and guess what happens to two imperfect, broken people who gets married? Their marriage will be built from a foundation of brokenness. It will not last. Spouses cannot be expected to be life-preservers.
Too Much Love?
There’s a story about a woman who is living with a man who is a drunk, drug junkie, unemployed, angry, and who is beating her up. She talks to her pastor and she wants to get married. The pastor didn’t think twice. Why would you marry a man like that?
This woman was so wounded inside that she seriously considered marrying a man whose own life was destroyed and who wanted to destroy hers. Why did she do it?
This woman came from a dysfunctional family where her emotional needs were not met. She is so desperate to be loved and accepted, so lacking in self-esteem, and she is fearful of being abandoned that she will cling to any relationship, even one that brings her pain.
So what do you do when you find yourself looking for a healer? First, be brutally honest about your own brokenness. Do you feel like you are drowning inside? Are you looking for a life preserver? Are you carrying hurts and disappointments that you secretly hope a spouse can heal? Do you have unfinished business with parents or others that you need to resolve before you can build a healthy relationship? Is your self-esteem so poor, because of past mistreatment, that you would be vulnerable to an abusive or destructive marriage?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you have to deal with your brokenness. Make your own healing a priority. Analyze the past, seek counsel. The only thing worse than being a single broken person is being a married, broken person.
Second, if you want to avoid serious trouble, you must observe potential mates very carefully. Look below the surface. What kind of expectations do potential mates have? What excess baggage are they carrying? What unfinished business do they need to resolve with their parents? Are they looking for a healthy, mutual relationship? Or for a life preserver? A miracle worker? A healer?
If you’re in a relationship or in a courtship stage with someone, give it time. Don’t jump into marriage or any commitment prematurely. Save yourself from this burden of being a life-preserver.
Doctor on Call
The truth is, you can only heal for so long. We are finite. We are limited. We burn out. We get tired. We’ll have our emotional tanks running on empty if we have a drowning spouse who expects us to heal them every time.
Only God can ensure permanent healing.
And your spouse has to see that and rely completely on his/her relationship with God to be truly healed.
“But whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” – John 4:14
The Right Foundation
How do you effectively choke on a relationship? Make your life the foundation. A life of brokenness, of a heart that is deceitful above all things, a life that is marred by sin, a life that would need healing sooner or later.
If you want a relationship that would last a lifetime, build it with Jesus as the cornerstone. Only then will you have a real, healthy, fulfilling relationship.