Marriage Monday: Healthy Marriages Drop the F-Bomb

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It’s Marriage Monday!!!

{Written by Peter Young}

Molly normally has some great list of activities or thoughtful things for you to do with or for your spouse but she asked if I would write and I am delighted to do so.

PART I

Quick Story… (If you know me you should be laughing)

I remember sitting at a restaurant with my fiancé and local pastor some years ago. He asked me the second most important question of my life,

“Why do two want to get married?”

In the moment lots of thoughts came to mind, I am a romantic at heart so grand notions of love surfaced. Every unoriginal tagline from bad romantic movies I enjoyed with Molly came sprouting up like weeds. How would I answer?

I NEVER thought I would be married during or remotely near college. I planned to graduate from my undergrad and attend a Seminary to work on an M. Div and some form of Counseling. I figured maybe along the way I would meet someone. I had no clue that I would meet my wife at Flagler College and contemplate getting married when I did. I had several friends talking about marriage as they were dating their college sweethearts and I was cynical for a lot of rational reasons.

I was convinced young married couples often lacked maturity or awareness and hurt each other deeply without understanding the lasting consequences of their words or actions. Another reason for failed marriages in my mind was simple, too young, and too fast, people don’t know what forever means.

I had watched strong marriages with big dreams, great intentions, come apart at the seams; marriages fail all the time. Why would I not succumb to those same thoughts, issues, or mistakes? Until I knew why my marriage would succeed I refused to ask a woman to join me on that disastrous voyage. I knew that when I asked a woman to commit to living life with me, allowing me to lead, serve, provide, and protect her, I had better understand what I am getting into.

I will save the story of how I met Molly for another time. After dating for over a year I began to have strange thoughts, scary, surprising, disturbing thoughts. I began to imagine being MARRIED. Molly was a beautiful exotic woman, who thought I was hilarious; she thought a fun date was painting portraits of one another in the local mall (easel and all AND NO WE DON’T PAINT). I had no clue how we would make it in life, we both wanted to open orphanages abroad and serve as missionaries. We were young; you have heard it said half of all marriages end in divorce. I was contemplating something that scared me because I did not know how we might make it when so many others did not.

Then I learned something so simple but significant my thinking regarding marriage changed deeply. It was all thanks to a couple who had been married a millennium or some ridiculous amount of time and the local Church wanted to celebrate. When they were asked what their secret was the older gentlemen divulged,

“We are great forgivers”

… The F-BOMB.
This couple’s ability to be all that they ought to be, were expected to be, should be, they failed regularly like everyone else, for all kinds of legit or illegitimate reasons. What this couple HAD TO EXCEL in was forgiveness. I wrestled with that for a long time. I had my own thoughts on what made some marriages not survive but THRIVE. I knew how broken, proud, and argumentative I was, why subject someone to that before I understand on some level what makes a marriage thrive.

I thought… even if I am the most romantic man in the world and a half decent forgiver – could I make it? The answer is NO. If I fail at forgiveness, to daily grow, learn, and be tested in my depths of its understanding I would cease to be the husband I am called to be. I will always lose and so will you. No matter the advantage, trait, or husband like characteristic I possessed – if it is not a Doctorate in Forgiveness I fail no matter my dating, listening, or communication prowess. People pay for that kind of epiphany, in the billing hours of a counselor, at marriage conferences, or in compatibility testing nonsense. I took the idea to heart; this fundamental principal led me to a deeper truth and some form of a thriving marriage.

I knew no matter what fault, transgression, sin, short coming or grievous malicious word or deed I may commit Molly’s deeply personal belief in Jesus Christ’s personhood, obedience, and trust would allow her to forgive me of anything. It’s easy to say or think this but then I thought on Molly’s life.

I thought back to the many difficulties she had endured how she handled them and what won out in those situations. No matter how messy or hopeless Molly clung to her faith. Be it the test of prosperity or poverty Christ remained center to her and that’s what made her beautiful (…One Direction just missed it).

What l did know about marriage was that I knew very little, but I believed I had the most precious cornerstone in which to build on. Molly’s faith was tested and deep. In fact it was the most attractive thing about her. I knew while our youth, money, health, and maybe on occasion love may fade our grounding in Christ would not. After I realized the scope of her faith I began to learn a lot from her. Because of God’s love and forgiveness of sins through Christ on the cross I knew our future marriage could exist, survive, and even thrive.

…BACK TO THAT “Quick Story”

So I was tempted to find a more robust way of conveying this and then realized. This is a simple question that deserves a simple answer and if I could not do so I was not ready for the gift of marriage.

Molly and I looked at each other and I explained to my local pastor,
“We are committed to loving each other, forgiving each other, and serving each other in Christ”

He replied,

“That’s a good answer. Most people say ‘because we love each other’ and I have to explain to them that it will never be enough.”

Well I have learned much since that conversation, I have done a lot of forgiving but have been forgiven so much more so than I deserve. Molly and I make mistakes, daily even, more than probably most people would fathom or that we would care to admit. This is our cornerstone, our standard measure of marriage; it’s not fair, balanced, sensible, tidy, or proportional instead it’s messy, comforting, perfect, unwavering, intolerable and distressing. There’s no measure or limit to our need to serve, to honor, or TO FORGIVE.

I’m a history buff; I am fascinated particularly with the human condition and WAR. During WAR some of the most beautiful and brutal acts on the planet take place. Men and women sacrifice and serve; others kill and destroy, some do both. WAR is a radical paradox. At times it seems both righteous and totally without merit. In the photo above you see a decimated expanse, not unlike a struggling marriage. I thought through the idea of using the F-Bomb title, some might think it was a weak bait and switch but I truly subscribe to a thinking, Forgiveness is lethal. The ability to forgive, like a bomb, it ruins, it decimates, it leaves those who would take up arms for conflict without a mission, because it removes, it does not seek out self, it totally surrenders its agenda. The need to be right, to kill, to malign another’s personhood, to douse their light and love subsides. Understand this is not, letting things go, or storing things up for a volcanic Mount Vesuvius at a later point.

The F-Bomb is defined this way…Christ was born without sin, lived 33 or 35 years and died a brutal death. That death was for the sins of the world, for all people everywhere. For past, present, and future sins. Sins, defined as the inability to love one another as God would have us. Our inability to put God first always. Sin, selfishness, everyone is guilty of it but what then? Christ lived a perfectly obedient life and in his death paid the penalty for your sins, my sins, and did not fight, argue, debate, or point fingers. Instead he was silent before his accusers and died so you and I might have more than a model, but a deep pool of forgiveness, endless to drink from. As Christ forgave and forgives you daily, so to should you forgive others. You want your relationships or marriage to THRIVE? You learn to excel in forgiveness, not in the advancement of your own sense of equality. Hurt? Wounded? Wronged? Don’t seek out self – seek Christ unto death of self.

For all the marriage literature, studies, conferences, nothing will equalize, qualify, and purify like Christ’s love. What fuels your forgiveness? Your own sense of equality, justice, or grace? If it’s not Christ I would submit the radical position that your forgiveness like mine will falter, fold, and cease to be enough at some point in your life. Your ability to drop the F-BOMB can be more vast, meaningful and fruitful only in Christ.

In this life all marriages will be tried, will fail, but what then? What will you lean into – self or Christ?

So this week look for opportunities to forgive without prejudice. Don’t fight to forward your own sense of hurt and drag your spouse through the mud as if it brings atonement. Be quick to forgive.
Stepping off soap box, till next time.

wedding1{Katie Weber Photography}

You May Also Like:

Marriage Monday: Serving Your Spouse

Marriage Monday: Love is Not a Fight

Marriage Monday: You’re Going to Skor Tonight!

5 thoughts on “Marriage Monday: Healthy Marriages Drop the F-Bomb

  1. Love your insight Peter! True forgiveness is one of the hardest things I can think of doing. But because we are truly and completely forgiven by God, we must aim to truly forgive in our relationships. Sometimes my sense of justice is stronger than my ability to give mercy, so thank you for the reminder that Christ didn’t deal with my sins justly… Praise God that I am forgiven and free. So how much more should I forgive others, including my spouse. 🙂

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