Verse one: "Cruising down the river on a Sunday afternoon " Psalm 107:1-3, 23-32.
What a wonderful description of a successful, enjoyable, contented marriage!
The wedding went so well. The honeymoon was fantastic! Setting up housekeeping was so much fun, with the excitement of moving in, buying curtains and furniture, establishing a pattern of life with the wife or husband.
The future is great. The job is promising. We plan on having children just when is our business.
Time goes on, and life is really good.
Lesson: When life is good and things run smoothly, relationships tend to be strong, and the focus is on the common dream.
Verse two: "Cruising down the river on a windy afternoon "
Then we discovered several things: We enjoyed those meals out, went to the movies, bought some extra things not necessary, but nice and stretched our budget a wee bit too far. That brought some stress into our lives.
What shall we do? Let's get our heads together and see what we can do to resolve this situation.
First, cut back on unnecessary spending. Second, put our utilities on a budget plan. After all, it's easier to plan when the expenses are more consistent. Third, tell Homer Electric and Alaska Communica-tions System our situation, and pay them half the bill now, with a promise to catch up in six weeks. Finally, do some belt-tightening.
Whew! It worked. We did it got out of that bind. Isn't it grand that we, we can face these things and come out on top? That's success in marriage. Life is good.
Lesson: When stress comes, the normal focus is to face the issue and solve the problem. Relationships are deepened and strengthened as a result.
Verse three: "Cruising down the river on a fiercely stormy afternoon "
Some children are now in the home. Dental and medical bills arrive, but we can handle them. After all, we learned how to adjust to the circumstances earlier in marriage.
Then things changed again. Big Kmart closed, Agrium laid off some people, the school system had to downsize.
Now the primary bread-winner is out of work. Suddenly one of the children requires major surgery, and we have no insurance. Those same utility bills just keep on coming.
Folks, this has moved way past stress. It has jumped to the level if acute distress.
Unless some considerable care is taken to prevent it, there is a high likelihood that the relationship between my spouse and me will move far beyond the stress level, where we worked together to solve our difficulties, to the distress level, where we will view each other as the culprit the reason for our present difficult situation.
There is a real danger of beginning to blame one's spouse for making some decision "that has caused our trouble" through a lack of foresight and adequate planning, or just plain old carelessness and ignorance, which has resulted in this present bad situation. But wait! There is hope for a solution. The result of distress need not be a fractured family, home or marriage.
God's word calls on people in this situation to call "on the name of the Lord in their trouble" with the assurance that "he brought them out of their distresses. He caused the storm to be still, Psalm 107:28-29.
His promise is that when we "walk through the valley (we need) fear no evil, for (he) is with us," Psalm 23:4.
God, furthermore, has told us that "if any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men liberally and doesn't scold, and it shall be given him," James 1:5.
There also are other people who have safely survived the same storms in their lives and marriages. They, many times, are willing to share their experiences and wisdom to aid people going through the same things. Today these people are called mentors.
Rely on God's presence, his promises and caring people as resources to help get through the stressful times in your relationships. It's well worth it. The results: "Cruising down the river "
Chuck Thornton is chair of Kenai Peninsula Marriage Savers, a cooperative ministry of more than 20 churches on the central Kenai Peninsula committed to help "make bad marriages good, and good marriages better." For more information, call Thornton at 262-6442, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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