Keeping Marriage Strong

I will start out by saying, to some who will be reading this, if not most, my marriage is still young. But, wisdom isn’t all about age, but also experience, and not all personal experience at that.

My wife and I got married nearly two years ago this July 7th, but it was not all blue skies and roses, let me assure you.

I suppose the best place to start in this would be with the event my wife and I now refer to as “The Ambush”. It was a Saturday evening, and my wife, then fiancee, and I had just got out of church and were invited to dinner with her mother, father, step-mother, and grandfather at the local El Fenix. Little did we know it was a trap to grill me with the 20 questions. I will spare the hour and a half long grilling of moi, but here was the short story of it. My wife and I never even ate our meal and left there feeling like we never wanted to have dinner with them again. The questions circled primarily around money, and how was I going to take care of there daughter. My response was not what they wanted to hear, though they all would say they are Christians, but it was simply this,” I cannot promise that I will ever have lots of money, or that we will not have to go through some hard times. Nobody has a guarantee of tomorrow or what could happen in the next ten minutes. But, this is what I can assure you of…God has never failed me before, and won’t fail me in this either.”

I am fairly certain I know the answer they wanted to hear, but, frankly, it would have been a bunch of bologna to have said it because it would not have been honest in my mind or heart, or that of my wife either. What I said, was about the truest statement I could have said to them. But, as you may know, when there are agendas involved, facts tend to be thrown to the wayside.

Fast-forward to today, and we have, up until a month or two ago, endured much verbal assault in our marriage from my wife’s grandfather, who has outright called me stupid for trying to start a ministry to help the people in Israel dealing with the constant fighting. Who feels I know nothing about money and how to use it well. Who at every chance he had was making some backhanded comment about our efforts.

Add to the mix, my wife’s passive aggressive mother who also was concerned about money matters in our life, but would never tell you, directly. She preferred to make inferences and ask loaded questions. And then there is the matter of my wife’s step-mother who was married before she married my wife’s father. In her previous marriage, she was accustomed to having more money and a more expensive lifestyle through the money her now ex husband brought in. A lifestyle that afforded her to shop regularly at Neimann Marcus, or Needless Mark-Up, as my wife and I call it, and various other high-end department stores. Now she is married to my wife’s father who is kind of like me in the sense that he is a minimalist. He doesn’t like to have a lot of stuff, but she does and seems to be trying to live to the old lifestyle she once had. But I digress, and get back to the point. She too has made it a point to rub our noses in the money matters and her disapproval of how we handle our finances. Never mind the fact that my wife and I have been able to pay off debt, and put money back, pay all of our bills and still have a little bit to spend on fun things, while she is in a still increasing pile of debt.

Long story short, because of all that we have had to endure in our marriage it began to affect our relationship, and we would find ourselves nitpicking each other, and couldn’t figure out why. But, after much prayer and discussion with each other, we realized something. We had been allowing our family members to drive a wedge between us.

So, we were proactive in this discovery and began trying to talk to our family members about the issues and establishing boundaries. I would say we have had a 85% success rate in getting those I mentioned above to respect our marriage and stay out of a matter unless we come to them for advice or counsel about it. Unfortunately, my wife’s step-mother was not willing to do this, and furthermore proceeded to call me a liar, and told me that I needed to get with the program. She felt it was foolish of me to have tried to develop a couple of business opportunities and a ministry, instead of doing “real work”.

With all that I have said, this is one piece of advice I would give to anyone whether old or young, if they don’t know it. Set your boundaries with those you love. Let them know you love them, and value their counsel. But they are to refrain from giving unsolicited advice on a matter unless asked. The exception being if it is a matter of life or death or some real emergency.

The results in your marriage are great, rest assured. There is a saying that goes something like this,” If they aren’t for you, then they are against you.” So, for the sake of peace and harmony in your marriage, and in keeping your marriage strong, do this: Always keep a practice of good, open communication between you and your spouse. Make sure there is trust between one another, and, let no one come between you and your spouse, whether family or otherwise.

Test me on this and see if it will not help to strengthen your marriage. I leave you with this quote: “…for this reason a man leaves his mother and father ,and cleaves to his wife. And the two become one flesh…”