Marriage is God's divine conspiracy.
That basically sums up chapter three of "Love and War," By John and Stasi Eldredge. Doesn't quite sound like God to create conspiracys, right? Let's explain.
John and Stasi Eldredge use chapter three to dive deeper into why marriage is so hard. They start by explaining what it is about the other person that absolutely drives them crazy. After hearing the lists from each of them, I wondered how they even live with each other!
They then went on to describe the wounds they each brought with them into their marriage, and how those played out in their first few years of marriage, which led to their first close call with the D word. Stasi felt like nothing she did was good enough, everything was a failure. She would never be able to please John. If she ironed a shirt, he would re-iron it, for example. As I listened to that (I listen to books on mp3, by the way), I thought to myself, with an ache in my heart, "That sounds familiar."
Then John spoke, and he said that the theme of the wounds he brought into the marriage was "abandonment." He said he was almost a "violent" perfectionist. Now, my ex was NOT a perfectionist, but he was violent. And abandonment is DEFINITELY the theme of his wounds. I saw a similarity there. It was a little scary, but I feel like it helped me to understand him a little more, although it makes no excuse for his behavior. I was at least comforted by the fact that someone else has gone through that too (Stasi).
They went on to describe the natural conflict that arises in marriage. First, they noted that the old adage "opposites attract" is absolutely true. The kicker is that God does that on purpose. It is by putting two different people together that He is able to refine us. If we were exactly the same as our spouses, life would be A) boring, and B) too easy. But he puts opposites together purposely to make us more like Him. The spouse he picks for us is the exact person that is best equipped to help us become the person God has planned for us to be, and vice versa.
Part of what makes marriage God's refining process for us is that we all, as individuals, create a way of coping with life that best works for us that is a result of both our wounds and our sin. The problem is that even going into marriage, we never intend to give "our way" up. We all casually say, "Oh, of course I know we'll have to compromise," but when it starts to become uncomfortable, we have a problem with it. So, as part of the refining process that God has created within marriage, he created it to be a dynamic in which we HAVE to give it up if we want to succeed. John and Stasi noted that true love and intimacy is often lost or hidden through refusing to give up "our way." I thought that was a significant point to consider and in my opinion, definitely one of the factors that creates big problems within marriages.
I listen to this book on mp3 for about 30-40 minutes in my car every morning, and that covers about a half to a whole chapter. Regardless of how little that seems to be, I am gaining valuable insight from that mere 40 minutes a day. Each paragraph gives me insight either to my failed marraige, my misconceptions of marriage, or the realities of marraige. In addition, it reveals some of the areas most susceptible to leading to big problems in a marriage and ways to try to avoid them. In 3 chapters, I feel that I'm gaining information that will give my next (and final) marriage much higher chances of success.