My husband Edison and I are now married for 55 years. We have gone through very difficult times in our own marriage relationship primarily because of our opposite temperaments and different cultural backgrounds. Our journey together has been very painful at times, but through it all, we have persevered to learn and work through our differences and weaknesses. It is our prayer that in the few more years that may be left for us together, we will enjoy a deeper understanding of one another in love.
Life is not a pathway strewn with roses all the way! There are many thorns that will hurt you. You are called to endure these sufferings so that through these God will chisel our rough edges and make us reflect the inner beauty. We should not be tempted to opt out of the marriage, thinking mistakenly, that ‘we will do better the second way around!’
THE EMPTY-NEST DILEMMA: Over these years, I have seen the heartaches and brokenness of many couples as they come to me for counsel and restoration of broken relationships. What surprises me most is the escalating number of separations among married couples who have spent over twenty to thirty years together. Why?
The husband and wife have been so preoccupied with their jobs which had consumed all their time and energy, they did not prioritize on making time to build their family relationships. Children have grown up, taken up jobs or are married, they have now retired – and suddenly, the husband and his wife are left staring at one another.
They realize they are almost strangers, now thrown together, and irritating one another with their habits and different ways of doing things! Sadly at this stage, I find that several couples instead of learning to enjoy one another and do the things together that they never had time to do before, are prepared to separate!
Let me share something i read a long time ago – a humorous slant to an unhappy reality. It reveals the reaction of a husband to his wife’s colds during their first seven years of marriage:
1st Year “Sugar dumpling, I’m really worried about you, my darling! You’ve got a bad sniffle and with all the germs going around, there’s no telling. I’m putting you in the hospital this afternoon for
a general checkup and good rest. I know the food is hopeless, but I’ll be bringing your meals from home. I’ve already got it all arranged with the doctor-in-charge.”
2nd Year “Listen darling, I don’t like the sound of that cough. I called and asked Doctor Miller to rush over here. Now you go to bed like a good girl, please?”
3rd Year “May be you’d better lie down honey, nothing like a little rest when you feel lousy. I’ll bring you something to eat. Have got any canned soup?”
4th Year “Now look dear be sensible. After you’ve fed the kids, washed the dishes and finish the floor, you’d better lie down.”
5th Year “Why don’t you take couple of aspirins?”
6th Year “I wish you’d just go and take something, instead of sitting around all evening barking like a seal!”
7th Year “For God’s sake, stop sneezing! Are you trying to give me pneumonia!”
THIS DECLINE IN the care and concern for one another over the years happens, because – in the rat race that characterizes the modern age – we often fail to make time and effort to understand and build our relationships together in its earlier years. However intense your conflicts may be, I hope and pray that you may be encouraged to see that, with the help of His Holy Spirit, it is never too late to change.
In this issue, my Letter to Newly Weds, gives 5 key pointers you can consider for a start. In my book Building Marriage God’s Way I have shared personal experiences of failures and lessons learned. It is available at OM Books.
May this encourage better communication and understanding between you, who ‘look good’ on the outside, but are suffering and afraid to confide in others the hurt and bitterness that lie deep inside you. I hope and pray also, that good marriages may be made even better.
I do believe that the health of the family is the measure of the health of the Church, the Society – and the next generation that follows us. It is therefore crucial that we make every effort to build healthy and happy marriages. The Holy Spirit is able to change everything and anything for better in your marriage – if you let Him. Will you?