Unity

The Marriage Triangle

The idea of the marriage triangle has been around for years and generally, it looks something like one of these drawings:

Although it seemed like a tidy principle, I found it to be misleading.  When I first saw this triangle… I wanted it to be true.  The assertion was so simple and clean of how marriage should work.  But whenever I tried to apply it, something seemed off… unworkable.  In peeling back some of its layers, I found an idea that was just that – an idealistic theory instead of practical applications for my real-life marriage.

If we’re equal, shouldn’t we equally grow?

Within the diagram, there’s an accepted assumption that we grow the same.  The problem was, that wasn’t the reality of our marriage.  And neither is it for most other marriages.

No two people in the world are alike, we all have different starting points and varied experiences as we grow from childhood through adolescence into adulthood.  Since maturity comes from our experiences, it’s doubtful that couples mature through the same experiences, at the same moment in time.

The sin nature doesn’t disappear because the couple becomes husband and wife (symbolized by the bottom portion of the triangle). Nor does the wedding day equalize each other’s sin to make it the same.

In this paradigm, the disconnect is that they appear parallel because they’re now one flesh.  The arrows that move us up the triangle, further support the disconnect:  each spouse is moving closer to God and each to each other, at the same rate of growth.

In theory, it appears that’s what should be happening, they should be getting closer to each other.  But what I’ve discovered is that one spouse always matures faster or one spouse has more emotional baggage and is more wounded: It’s never the same rate of climb.  Instead, the stronger personality emotionally forces the other to keep pace. The weaker/gentler or more tolerant personality goes along, or at least tries to for a while, to keep the peace.

These are the couples that one day, they’re just… divorced – and no one saw it coming.

The rhetoric of equality

As much as we’ve been told that men and women are equal – the same in every way…  we’re not.  God didn’t make females to match males but to contrast them.  He purposefully created us women to be unique and opposite of men: Chiral –  everything about us that’s female is reversed.  God doesn’t erase this biology because we get married.  In fact, it’s through the one flesh relationship that we get to experience the contrast of our opposites in the deepest ways!

You’ve always processed through a female lens and your husband through a male lens.  You’re not equal to anyone in your human experience.  Your fingerprints prove that you’re exclusive, you.  Your different human experience on earth is what gives you an entirely different history and relationship with God.

We never have conflict

Another presupposition presented in the diagram is that couples always see eye to eye on everything.  They’re both pretty agreeable so they’re both moving seamlessly up the triangle, together.  I could see this working if I believed that there were two people who:

  • Had perfect childhoods
  • Both always said and did what they should
  • Never had a difference of opinion
  • Didn’t bring any baggage from being raised by sinners
  • Hadn’t suffered any pain or hurt from life in general

Further, to say that a marriage doesn’t have any trials, tribulation or troubles, makes Paul’s warning in 1 Corinthians 7, of pressure, affliction, and anguish, an untrue statement:

[…] Yet those who marry will have physical and earthly troubles […]

 

Not a triangle for marriage

I don’t believe this paradigm can represent marriage on a practical level – it’s missing the connecting glue: The Covenant.  The main thing that separates a marriage apart from every other relationship:  The One Flesh.  It doesn’t matter how many Bible verses you include on that diagram … there’s still no representation of that mystery symbolizing the one flesh that only happens in marriage.

For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. ~Ephesians 5:31

HOWEVER, it is an accurate depiction of relationship, just not for marriage – it’s a family triangle!

 

A triangle for Family!

The idea of superimposing Bible verses about relationships over a triangle, then naming it the “marriage triangle,” was confusing me. I kept ending up with the same question:

If there’s no distinction between the relationship with my brother (and sisters) in the family of Christ and the brother I’m married to – if all the verses apply the same to everyone, why even put verses about marriage in the Bible?

Marriage Triangle or Family Triangle … What’s the difference?

The obvious answer was, of course, sex – with one person.  But becoming one flesh is about more than sex. Being married to a brother in Christ means I’ve forsaken all others in the body of Christ – making this one brother a husband to me:  The two have become one flesh.

It’s a completely different and deeper dynamic than all other relationships within the body of Christ … a weightier one because it carries the glory of representation.

This mystery [of one flesh] is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. ~Ephesians 5:32

We’ve got to stop trying to make marriage the same as every other relationship in the body of Christ – it’s just not.  Marriage is the only relationship that’s been given the responsibility of becoming one flesh, and the only relationship in which God demands a covenant.

A triangle where there’s no one-flesh representation for marriage, cannot be a “Marriage Triangle.”  This paradigm represents the family relationships; it’s a “Family Triangle.”

SOUL-utions

  • Don’t try to force your husband to change or grow by following the principles, ideas, programs or books that you think are the best. Real growth with God and real intimacy with each other happen through unanimous agreement – not emotional coercion.  Sadly, a lot of wives think because they’re one flesh with their husbands they have the freedom to step in front of the Holy Spirit.
  • The renewal of your husband’s mind and heart will match his own weaknesses, history and understanding – not yours. God knows the best way to heal and grow him, and the optimum time to do it. It won’t be on your timetable.  You either hold his heart as the Holy Spirit does the work in it; or you’re the obstacle in the path of the Holy Spirit.
  • You married a man, not a sister, not a girlfriend or a BFF. He’ll become more like Jesus Christ through his role of the husband, not your role as a wife.

 Part 2:  The one flesh triangle

Fearless Wife

This poem is dedicated to all you brave women – you fearless wives.  You chose to put your husband and family first ahead of your career, thereby serving them instead of yourself.  You chose to truly have it all by ordering your life in the sequence of marriage and family first, then career in the latter part.

You know who are and the cost of your sacrifice.  Thank you for your inspiration.

Fearless Wife

A real fearless girl am I, listen to my ROAR,

Away from my husband I’ll never be tore.

The thought of that, I simply abhor.

A victim mind I’ll never be,

No matter what the critics say to me.

On this I know, we’ll never agree.

 

Truly fearless became my heart,

When I married my forever counter-part.

Home’s, truly powerful sweetheart.

The more wholly feminine I am,

A bigger bite out of the enemy’s plan.

To increase the breadth of, his career wingspan.

 

Excellent skill gives respite to refresh,

Grows iron thighs of masculine flesh.

To bear, the more on my Suresh.

Prosperity and strength success to symbolize,

Guarding till he returns with our prize.

His kept await in anticipation, his allies.

 

Fearless wife lacks victim’s gene,

And never divides the homeward team.

Nor forfeits her position of ruling queen.

 

 

Beware of the Marriage Cannibals

What do you call it when someone turns against the team?  Sometimes we say they’re a traitor, deserter, or even hypocrite.  In medicine, it’s called autoimmunity:  an immune response caused by systemic inflammation that leads your body to attack itself.

What about in marriage, when one spouse turns on the other and begins attacking the team?

In Galatians, Paul uses some graphic imagery to make an emphatic point:  Tearing at each other by biting and devouring has the same effect, relationally, as cannibalism:  Consuming one of your own.

If you bite and ravage each other, watch out—in no time at all you will be annihilating each other, and where will your precious freedom be then? (5:15)

When a spouse does this, they’re cannibalizing their own marriage.

What does it look like to bite and devour — have I been cannibalizing my own marriage?

It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on. (Galatians 5:19-21, emphasis added)

Wow, wow, wow – if we can get a visual of just how dangerous it is to live out of our flesh instead of our spirit, we’ll be able to see how much real damage we can do to our husbands, to ourselves, and to The Kingdom –it can change our hearts.

Marriage Cannibal:  it’s a choice 

No one is a cannibal on their wedding day. In fact, we’re the opposite of a marriage cannibal on that day!  This change happens after the wedding and is triggered by who we listen to.

Marriage cannibals want you to expose all your husband’s mistakes, misdemeanors, and missteps.  They tell you how right you are and how you deserve better.  How unfair your circumstances are.  All the while inching you closer to your flesh instead of The Spirit.

Is it intentional?  Sometimes it is – sometimes women are so hurt over their own failed marriage(s) they can’t get beyond their own bitterness. They end up destroying any other marriage they come in contact with –misery loves company.  And then there are some unwittingly used by Satan:

For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses,  always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. (2 Tim 3:6)

… and they end up being out for themselves.  They feel justified as they feed on the misery that you’re serving up from your marriage.  They do this under the guise of helping and encouraging your situation, all the while sharpening your focus on the faults of your man.  Their motive isn’t really solution-oriented, it just feels like it is because they’re giving you center stage of attention.

It doesn’t matter if the split for the responsibility of the conflict is 95% your fault and 5% your husband’s.  A marriage cannibal will talk you away from any responsibility you have while simultaneously narrowing your focus on that 5% of his.  Blame’s the name of the game.

The first marriage cannibal was Satan

He uses the same technique today that he used in the garden:  Creating doubt through a perceived sense of lack.  He wasn’t after Eve, he merely used a weakness of hers to reach his real target, Adam – divide then conquer.

Any advice or counsel that focuses on the faults of your man instead of the power of Christ’s grace, is underpinned by Satan’s methods.  You’ll know them because they’ll appeal to your flesh – just like they did with Eve.

DIVIDED:  Satan used a lie to shift Eve’s focus away from God’s truth so she’d doubt Adam, You won’t die!  Then, as a liar does, he spins it bigger, God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.

AND:  Eve doubts, The woman was convinced.  So she took some of the fruit and ate it.  Then she gave some to her husband.

CONQUERED:  Adam yields, and he ate it, too.  At that moment their eyes were opened.

Satan achieved a “twofer” here:

  • Division between husband and wife (Genesis 3:16)
  • Division from God (Genesis 3:24)

Cannibalism of marriage: the movement

A true saying is that, it takes two to tango.  It takes two to make the marriage work and two to break it down – but it only takes one to initiate divorce1.  In the past, when it was just our husbands that had the freedom to initiate divorce, the divorce rates2  were low.  However, when us wives got that same freedom, divorce rates skyrocketed3.

Unfortunately, it’s women that are leading the destruction of families – not men. (2 Tim 3:6-7)

When you listen to a marriage cannibal, you’ll end up distrusting God’s:

  1. Son (Hebrews 1:2)
  2. Message in His Word (2 Timothy 3:16)
  3. Power (Romans 4:17)
  4. Timing, and (2 Peter 3:8-9)
  5. Ability (Luke 1:37)

And you’ll believe that:

  1. The grace you’ve received from God through Christ is sufficient for your sin, but not for your husband’s. (Romans 3:21-26)
  2. The circumstances in your marriage are the exception and make your marriage harder than anyone else has ever experienced. So, therefore, you get a special dispensation of grace. (1 Corinthians 10:13; 1 Peter 4:12)
  3. Your husband’s problems are not fixable, even by the Creator of the universe. (Ephesians 3:20)
  4. Your sins are smaller than his, and God doesn’t have as much work to do in you as He does in your husband – he’s holding you back from a good life and you want to be happy now. (Acts 10:34; Romans 2:11)
  5. Your life will be better without your husband. You have to depend on your own ability to make that happen instead of waiting for God to make it happen. (Isaiah 43:19)

SOUL-utions

  • We all need to talk to people about problems in our marriage from time to time. Choose wisely – choose one person.  Choose as a last resort.  Don’t choose a person as a replacement of the Holy Spirit, and if the advice doesn’t lead you to give the grace of Jesus Christ, choose someone else.
  • God tells us to test fruit and He encourages us to test Him. Check the source – what does her own marriage look like?  Examine the fruit in her marriage, she must be able to back it up with real experience.  If she doesn’t have fruit yet or the fruit is suspect, choose someone else.
  • After you’re done talking to her, do you hate your husband more? Or, love him more (or at the very least, hate him a little less)?  Have they thrown gas on the sparks so your anger and self-pity are escalating to a consuming fire that needs to be fed?  Or, have they helped you diminish the sparks by sprinkling the water of grace on them?  If not, choose someone else.

 

 

 


NOTES

  1. initiate divorce:  “… 70-75% of divorces were initiated by women […] and is a rising trend.” –Michelle Langley (Incidentally, her research is part of why and when I started following trends and information about marriage)  Her book is called, Women’s Infidelity, and was published in 2005.
  2. divorce rates:  according to the National Center for Health, 50% of marriages in the United States now end in divorce with 80 percent of the initiation filed by women.
  3. divorce rates skyrocketed:  “#25. Wives are the ones who most often file for divorce at 66% on average.” That figure has soared to nearly 75 percent in some years.

 

 

 

Nagging

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… the contentions of a wife are a continual dripping.

… better to dwell in a corner of the housetop [on the flat oriental roof, exposed to all kinds of weather] than in a house shared with a nagging, quarrelsome, and faultfinding woman.

… better to dwell in a desert land than with a contentious woman and with vexation.

… better to dwell in the corner of the housetop than to share a house with a disagreeing, quarrelsome, and scolding woman.

True, it’s hard to hear, but God told us for a reason.  I’m guessing it does more damage than we realize.  Nagging is hurtful to your husband’s ears and toxic to your marriage.  And probably doesn’t make God too happy either.

~   Let’s not be like that   ~

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Adversity in Marriage

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You know those memes you see on Facebook, the ones that make you feel kind of old, “If you know what this is click like and share.”  This one was a wringer washing machine, in the catalogue, it was advertised to make laundry easier.  I showed it to my oldest daughter, saying, “I remember helping my Grandmother do laundry with this!  It took about two hours to do one load.”

washers

Two hours doesn’t sound very fast, but compared to the washboard – the wringer washer was a gigantic leap forward for domestic work.  Wash day was just that, a whole day.  It took a whole day’s worth of work and cut it to less than half, by removing the hardest part.

Now we complain about so much laundry.  We (me) have the audacity to actually complain about a task that is 95% automated – are you kidding me?!  Just the other day I let out a tsssk as I walked passed the load(S) waiting to be washed.  And I know for a fact other women feel the same about ‘never-ending’ laundry.

ADVERSITY reveals the true me (and you)

No wonder we can’t handle any real problems in life and relationships with grace for others and dignity for ourselves.

  • “It’s too hard, God would never want me to go through THAT.”
  • “I don’t like this, it doesn’t make me happy.”
  • “Why should I have to do that?”
  • “God is a God of justice.  It’s not fair if I have to experience THIS.”

As we resist with each statement (which sound suspiciously like complaining), we get weaker and less able to actually conquer whatever situation we are in.  The more we focus on just ourselves and the difficulty of the task, the more impossible the circumstance becomes.  We lose sight of the big picture and our place in it.  Forgetting that it was God Who chose us, and what role He placed us in.

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.  For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren (Rom 8:28-29)

The word adversity captures a wide range of circumstances – from a minor inconvenience to a catastrophe. Whatever the size or discomfort of the difficulty, it does the same thing – it pushes us against the barrier of our comfort zones, thins our skin and forces out a response.

ADVERSITY had revealed the complainer in me

Had I really complained about the laundry as I was climbing the stairs?  Yes.  Something so small and benign.  I hadn’t seen that in myself and it caught me off guard.  I don’t think God views any complaining as small or inconsequential.  Complaining used to be a big problem for me – not so much anymore.  But apparently, there was still a sliver there that needed to be exposed and removed before it spread further.  The virus of sin is like that.

How could I conquer evil with good and be strengthened with gratitude, if I couldn’t even see past a few puny piles of laundry to the blessing of fully automated equipment?  Don’t get me wrong, I know dirty clothes aren’t evil – but the complaining part is.

Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents.  Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. (1 Cor 10:9-10)

Complaining is a fruit of wrong focus – it proves to myself that I’m making it all about me when there is so much to be grateful for:

  • the fact that I do have a fully automated washing machine (and dryer), instead of having to use a wringer washer or a washboard, or go to the laundromat.
  • that my husband has bought the best set.
  • speaking of him, he’s healthy and has a fantastic job.
  • the blessing of all my kids and that they are healthy.
  • that we all have an abundance of clothes!

I could go on and on, but you get what I mean.  When I set my focus on the benefits, gratitude will naturally grow instead of self-pity.

ADVERSITY will help or hinder

I think we can all agree:  People have no control over others and no power to change them.  It’s a good thing, for a couple of reasons.

(1) When you accept how little control you have over circumstances, and the people involved in them, your faith grows—you become a different person.  The more you trust God, the more you mature.  Yes, there’s characteristics we don’t care for in people, behaviours and habits that create adversity in our relationships – conflict with our husbands, but, you’ve got to ask yourself:

Do I really want someone else to have the power to change me?

(2) Because that’s the deal.  If I get the power to change my husband – then he gets just as much power to change me.  My answer would be, no – I only want God to have that power, He’s the only one that can see my heart (and Darrell’s) from a complete perspective. (Psalm 139:16)

SOUL-utions:

KNOW:  I say this lots and I’ll say it again:  We’re going to have trials, turmoil and hurt in our marriages, we’ve got to accept it – we’re told, plainly.  We all have our fair share, God hasn’t picked out some for more hardship or troubles than anyone else.  Beloved, do not be amazed and bewildered at the fiery ordeal which is taking place to test your quality, as though something strange (unusual and alien to you and your position) were befalling you. (1 Peter 4:12)

ACCEPT:  Be open to what God shows you about own heart when you’re in trials; not what you see in your husband’s heart. God already knows the both of you, He wants you to see your own.  But the Lord said to Samuel, Look not on his appearance or at the height of his stature, for I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees; for man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.   (1 Sam 16:7)

LET GO:  We hinder ourselves by focusing on the things in our husbands that we want to change.  The most helpful thing we can do is to let go of this perceived power.  A wife affects real change in marriage through influence, not control.  In like manner, you married women, be submissive to your own husbands [subordinate yourselves as being secondary to and dependent on them, and adapt yourselves to them], so that even if any do not obey the Word [of God], they may be won over not by discussion but by the [godly] lives of their wives. (1 Peter 3:1)

 

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Million Dollar Wife

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THE MINIMUM WAGE MENTALITY

This mentality agrees to become part of a marriage, and brings expectations of the wedding into the marriage – but soon finds out it’s not so much fun all the time.  In fact, this marriage isn’t like a wedding – at all.  It’s starting to require too much hard work:  short-sighted

She increasingly thinks someone (usually her husband) owes her happiness.  Being unable to see what she already has because of what she wants, she becomes unable to celebrate her own unique role as a wife because the grass is always greener … somewhere else:  fleshly-focused

Her focus on self is blocking the bigger picture so she can’t see the marriage from 40000ft – God’s view.  What He’s doing in both of them through the marriage.  All that comes into view is what her husband is presently like — not what he could be like:  near-sighted

At the heart of a minimum wage mentality, there’s conditional love.

It’s a kind of love that keeps score with checks and balances.  It leans heavily on the Law – how it should be – and because of the double-standard that often accompanies legalism, it’s blind to a vision of success for the future.  When I had a minimum wage mentality, nothing changed in our marriage – especially not me.  Familiar to me were phrases like.  What about my husband’s part?  Why do I have to go first?  How is that fair to me?

You can tell you might be stepping down into this mentality when you repeatedly hear:  Me – My – I

THE MILLION DOLLAR MENTALITY

This mentality is aware that every marriage has two broken sinners, so there’s going to be good days and bad days.  And sometimes even seasons that are gnarly and emotionally painful.  She accepts the truth about trials in marriage and believes that God can bring healing and wholeness out of any circumstance – she takes God at His Word:  faith

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. ~Rom 8:28

She understands that part of being a successful wife is fearlessness.  She’s able to bring her best to that role knowing God always comes through – she’s confident in God’s timing:  hope

Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. ~Col 3:23

She sees strength and merit in Christ’s example for marriage.  How Jesus chose to please God rather than himself.  Even when the disciples, in their confusion of not really understanding, tried to get him to go against His promise, He didn’t falter because of His love for God.  She knows the source of this power is not her own, it belongs to God:  love

We love each other because he loved us first. ~1 John 4:19

At the heart of the million dollar mentality, there’s unconditional love.

She leaves the scorekeeping of offences to God by leaning heavily on Grace.  Her primary focus is eternal by letting the temporal events fall to the peripheral – and this changes everything.  The higher grade of seed you plant in the soil of the marriage, the higher grade of harvest God reaps into the life of His daughter – you.

[Remember] this: he who sows sparingly and grudgingly will also reap sparingly and grudgingly, and he who sows generously [that blessings may come to someone] will also reap generously and with blessings. ~2 Cor 9:6

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SOUL-ution:

It’s definitely a process to cultivate the million dollar wife. Perhaps you’ve already seen some miserly minimum wage seeds that you’ve planted and have taken steps to move into the million dollar mindset – fantastic, keep up the good work!

He who finds a [true] MILLION DOLLAR wife finds a good thing and obtains favour from the Lord.

~Prov 18:22

But it gets rough. We know it does. When we find we’ve stepped down from that high calling: the call to be a million dollar wife, the role we agreed to on our wedding day…we’ve got to get back.  If you’ve slipped away from being that good thing that God speaks about – your man needs you back.  Remember,

YOU  ARE

A

GOOD THING

 

 

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