Becoming Broken Together
Brokenness with baggage, selfishness, habits, triggers etc. how do we as singles, divorcees and widows/widowers start over with another?
Are we all not broken in many ways? Do we need more brokenness? Perhaps. Life’s tests can bring out the patience and character in us to withstand greater tests/temptations. This is something that James (James 1:4 of the Bible) said could perfect our character if we endure. Psychologists often refer to this as “stress tolerance”. Some of the best Christians I know have little stress tolerance. Some give the “one-way to heaven sign” (with their middle finger) to a slow texting driver in front of them as they leave the church parking lot!
You might know worldly men attending church meetings only to prey on more innocent women in a promiscuous way. The result is to give men a further bad name in the eyes of many women who have also been used or abused. Face Book therapy is filled with posts of people “airing their dirty laundry” and spilling their guts before the eternal all-keeping internet where all can see and remember the evidence of just how broken we are! All Men are liars! All women are users! Who can you trust?
The Bible has a caution here to all that even Psychologists cannot improve on. It says in Proverbs 4:23 “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it (NIV).”
“Sweet Dreams”, a song by the Eurythmics has a catchy chorus tune that most persons know and sing along to, but few listen to the words of the verse which states some of them want to use you, or be used by you and some of them want to abuse you or be abused by you. In the bar scene, many women do not feel shame encouraging men to buy drinks for them that they ignore once they have their fill. Men do not feel bad about demanding sexual favors for their investment of time and money with a date. The games and abuse become more sophisticated over time and each learn to hide their true self and interact just strong enough to get what they want from the relationship.
When someone asks you what is the biggest fish in the world do you have the answer on your tongue? It’s the “self-fish”! Ever since the fall of Adam and Eve we have inherited a selfish nature, the self-serving behaviors that scream our needs and fade out those of others.
But wait! You as a single, meet someone who seems genuine, reveals themselves transparently and you mutually exchange information that leads to laughter, acceptance and deep friendship. Yeah! Time to celebrate! Not so fast. Some disappointment arises when you see that each other’s values, differences and priorities differ and one of you must compromise if you both wish to see each other often and share experiences together. This compromise is easy when it requires small adjustments to time, money, friends, and resources. The first-time that compromise becomes difficult, one person often shouts “No!” and runs for cover or in the arms of another. That weaker more selfish person is perhaps a taker rather than a giver, has been spoiled or entitled, OR has never learned to compromise.
Older persons have more baggage, generally speaking (Except for me as I only have LUGGAGE used to carry baggage. Lol.). Therefore, older singles may have more to compromise about to stay together, yet they also tend to have more experience at compromise as well.
Why, however, did the previous generations (Born before 1940) generally stay married till death or much longer than those of the past 30 years or so? There are several factors (and no excuses) one can argue, but permit me to list the major factors and give you what I believe to be the answer. The later generations have been exposed to more temptation, have seen “no-contest divorce laws” in most states making divorce easy, generally work fewer hours and have more leisure time, have jobs that require travel or require moving away from extended family and family values influence, exposed to movies/TV modeling adultery/divorce, and are not required to work out most problems together on a rural farm as were our great-grand-parents.
The most important factors are that they (“The Great Depression” Generation) perceived the marriage contract as a spiritual and permanent one rooted in their Biblical/Religious roots. Also, most were farmers and life on the rural farm required working through emotional storms and tragedy to succeed being “broken together”. They exercised faith to depend on God for the weather to yield food. They cried together over weather droughts, animals and insects destroying crops and anguished together over debt, sickness without a hospital ER, long work hours and minimal pleasures outside of each other, family and community. They were often challenged together and shared brokenness together and their love matured through this process. They became aware of each other’s commitment to one another and learned to appreciate each’s personality strengths.
Today’s singles are rarely as transparent to avoid rejection. They are rewarded for staying single with free sex from each other and no commitment, with tax laws favoring singleness and living together, with Government benefits favoring singles, with easy abortion options, and with keeping their alimony and child support payments alive by refusing to marry a person they are living with as partner! And the most common one I hear is “I’ll never marry again and make a mistake like that because I will not:
- be hurt again,
- pick up after another,
- be stuck with his/her bills and habits,
- be used and/or abused and/or neglected again
- be controlled again.”
The commitment to each other becomes even less important now where both parties are generally employed and believe they are independent with their own funds. Most are keeping their own separate checking/savings accounts. Both want to keep their free time and money without change. Most are living together because they say the marriage contract is only a piece of paper (Not a sacred vow that started by God before courts took over). The value of marriage as a Spiritual contact and agreement between the couple and God, however, solidifies the commitment. Just as Baptism by water is meant to be a public commitment of faith and a testimony to follow Christ, the marriage contract/agreement is to be a public commitment!
Being broken together in life’s challenges while leaning on God holds the union together. Husbands and wives have a commandment that verifies this and the man’s part is the toughest. God said in Ephesians 5:22-25: Wives, honor and respect your own husbands. Husbands, love your wives the way Christ loved the church and gave his life for it!
The scars and secrets of growing together make a relationship strong. The paradoxical mystery of the marriage union is that by mutual compromise with your partner you actually gain. Your investment in each other is recognized, and appreciated with a stronger commitment to each other. You want to do more for the person as you grow to love them more. The challenges you face together further produce a shared experience, best friend, partnership and trust. Building dreams together is to further build trust and commitment. Support of each other through sickness, tragedy, and loss forge a partnership that extends far beyond the physical attraction of infatuation when you met. Shared experiences of mutual dependence during struggles are even more important to the relationship’s success. The true test of commitment through struggles, that is being broken together, reveal true love that goes beyond pleasure or selfish desires. It is the very cement of the relationship. God made us for relationship with Him and each other while He gave marriage to help us understand the commitment and compromise. The gift of children illuminates this unselfishness as the couple needs to care for their creation. This gift is also to understand the Holy Trinity and how God loves us as His children. “And if you, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more does your Father in heaven know how to give good gifts to you (Mathew 7:11 and Luke 11:13).
Commit, compromise and be broken together!