Verse 1: “Cruising down the river on a Sunday afternoon.”
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.
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 2: “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 and stretched our budget a bit too far.
That brought some stress into our life.
What shall we do? Let’s get our heads together and see what we can do to solve this situation.
1) Cut back on unnecessary spending; 2) put our utilities on a budget plan ; 3) tell HEA and ACS our situation, and pay them half the bill now, with a promise to catch up in six weeks; and 4) do some belt-tightening.
Whew! It worked We got out of that bind. Isn’t it grand that we can face these things and come out on top? That’s success in marriage. Life is good.
Lesson: When stress comes, the normal remedy is to face the issue and solve the problem. Relationships are deepened and strengthened as a result.
Verse 3: “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.
Then things changed again K-Mart closed, Agrium laid off some personnel, the school district 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 of acute distress.
Unless some considerable care is taken to prevent it, there is a high likelihood that the relationship between the husband and wife will move far beyond the stress level, where they worked together to solve their difficulties, to the distress level, where each other will be viewed as the reason for the present difficult situation.
There is a real danger of beginning to blame one’s spouse for making some decision that caused the trouble, lacking foresight and adequate planning or just plain old carelessness that resulted in this present 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.
In Psalm 23:4 he promises that when we walk through the valley, we need fear no evil, for he is with us.
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. Many times they are willing to share their experiences and wisdom as an aid to people going through the same things.
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.”
Charles Thornton is pastor at Large of Peninsula Grace Brethren Church, 44175 Kalifornsky Beach Road, Soldotna. Sunday worship is at 11 a.m. and Bible classes are at 9:30 a.m.
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