Marriage Upgrade: When the issue is NOT the issue
Jay and I have been attending Marriage Boosters, A Marriage Upgrade the past two Wednesdays with our church at Victory Fort. We prioritize these kinds of activities that would help us strengthen our marriage and identify areas that we need to work on as a married couple.
And marriages take a lot of work, don’t they? We’re on our 12th year and it’s just as challenging, sometimes even more, as on our first year.
If there was one thing we’ve learned from people we consider our mentors, it’s to invest in our marriage and make these opportunities to do so a priority.
The past and the present
Anyway, the first session discussed how our past affect our marriages.
We all know that the events of our past had helped mold us to become better or worse people. Let’s face it, our past don’t always bring out the best in us.
That’s why whoever came up with the term “baggages” came up with it in the first place.
Our past can be bulky and heavy. And we tend to drag them around with us, allowing it to hamper us from moving forward, leaving us less room to be kind and forgiving with our relationships.
Baggages, baggages, baggages
Pastor Jojo Henson and his wife, Ida, pointed out that some of these baggages go way back to when we were young. We may have forgotten what happened, but the effects manifest in the way we respond to “triggers.”
Sometimes, our spouses do or say stuff that seem harmless, but their words or actions trigger us to respond unreasonably to them.
Let me share something more personal…
I get worked up when my husband gets sleepy in hours apart from bedtime. And I explode when he starts to nod and fall asleep. I tend to attack my husband when he becomes like this.
It’s weird, I know, but it’s true. All others falling asleep, I can take, but Jay, no.
Ida says that oftentimes, what we think are our issues are not really the issue. That there’s more to it than what just happened.
These circumstances that make us react unreasonably are just triggers.
In my case, as a child, my sister who was afflicted with the worst type of Diabetes, was always falling asleep from the time she was fifteen.
You know, I asked Jay to test himself for Diabetes once. The results were negative. But it wasn’t enough for me to feel better about it.
Growing up with a diabetic sister was difficult for me. Simply put, I see sleepiness as a red flag. My sister was not able to reach her full potential because of her debilitating disease. She passed away at 32 and there was nothing I could do to stop the pain her death had caused my mother.
So basically, it isn’t really Jay’s sleepiness that is the issue. It’s that past that must have traumatized me in some way and I need to heal from it and find peace with it, because it’s one of those “little foxes” that may destroy our marriage.
When God steps in
Pastor Jojo and Ida cited Joseph and Mary as an example on how God can move in a marriage. Have you ever thought about being in their shoes?
Mary was pregnant with a child before she married Joseph. We all know that the baby wasn’t Joseph’s.
Here’s the thing: Mary had to tell Joseph that God put a baby in her tummy. Do you realize how ridiculous that sounds?
Joseph must have loved Mary because he did not betray her by telling other people about her “crazy story.” Keeping it to himself actually protected her. By their laws, a woman pregnant without a husband (she wasn’t married yet) are to be stoned to death.
But the Bible also says that Joseph was planning to divorce her quietly.
He did not intend to stay with the loony who claims that God put a baby in her miraculously. Their future as a married couple didn’t look so great.
However, God spoke to Joseph in a dream who then, in Pastor Jojo’s words, “took charge of the marriage and secured Mary.”
The point of the story is that when God steps into the picture, he opens eyes and changes hearts, and puts hope in the most impossible situations.
And you know what else? He secures you.
Matthew 1: 18-21
Of Eyes and Destinies
Before the session concluded, we were asked to look at our spouses again. It was so awkward, Jay and I couldn’t help but laugh a little, but I realized we have not looked at each other that way in a long time.
We were then asked to pray and ask God to open our eyes so we can see more clearly. To see our spouse through the eyes of God.
“Do you see anything?” And he looked up and said, “I see people, but they look like trees, walking.” Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.” Mark 8:23 -25
Pastor Jojo and Ida reminded us to take out hurtful, spiteful words from our vocabulary. Words like “I hate you,” “Let’s separate!” or “You will never change!” and instead, replace them with words that speak destiny to our marriages.
I found myself telling Jay that we’re a team and that I still believe that we have a great, purposeful future to look forward to.
Jay and I were already in a relationship before we decided to make Jesus the center of our lives. But I’m glad that my husband took the initiative to learn God’s word and strive to apply it in all his decisions before we said our I do’s.
Believe me, staying with your spouse for better or for worse is a decision you will have to make more than once.
At times, our situations get to the point when, at least in my case, I feel that I’m at a dead-end with Jay. The easiest and what would have been natural for me to do is to walk away and leave it all behind.
Why not? I’ve done it many times before. It’s easier to let go of than to deal with difficult relationships. The old me just didn’t have the patience.
And I’m sure Jay gets frustrated with me, too. I’m not exactly an angel.
But God’s grace has seen us through and the message of the cross has taught us to forgive each other over and over again.
I’m not saying it’s easy, but it’s possible.
With God, all things are possible.
If you need marriage counseling, I suggest that you contact or visit a Victory center and ask to be connected to the pastoral department.