Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Change and Grace Exchange in Marriage

A precursor to bringing grace to our spouses is understanding them.

Mary Kassian gets this, I think, in a very grace-driven approach to the issue of female beauty (and of wives "letting themselves go").

Not unrelated is understanding the expectations that take place as a marriage grows. Speaking generally, women marry men they love "just as they are," yet with the expectation that they will progress, become more "domesticated," grow in areas of interest and emotion, etc. They expect that the marriage relationship will help their husbands change. Men, on the other hand, generally want the women to stay just as they are. Husbands usually want their wives to resemble twenty years into the marriage the women they were on day one.

Some of the deepest frustrations I've witnessed among married couples occurs when the wife can't believe her husband is essentially the same man he was on the wedding day -- in fact, the things she found appealing or even cute then have now become annoying and sources of hurt -- or when the husband has no idea where this woman who used to be his wife came from.

Men are hard changers. Women are constantly changing and growing.

Spouses need to understand this if they're going to be able to bring grace to the husband who hasn't outgrown his love for college basketball or the wife who once only wanted 1 child but now wants to adopt 20. We are wired differently, and in our cursed-ness this is a recipe for enmity and disaster. But in our gospel blessedness, it is an opportunity for the real love of 1 Corinthians 13.

Steps to Grace-Driven Marriage
Steps to Grace-Driven Sex
A Specified Grace in Solomon's Song


rdsmith3 said...

I can't argue that you've witnessed this phenomenon, but I humbly suggest it is a generalization that is not helpful. Of course, I am affected by my own biases and experiences.

First, I think the ideal is that both parties will grow, and will encourage and support Christ-centered growth in the other person. Both will recognize that we are but travelers on this earth.

Second, in reality, my experience has shown that the husband or wife may be changing at a particular point in time, while the other party is resisting change. The changing person is, one way or another, forcing the resistant party to change. Thus, there is a continual push/pull dynamic in a marriage that can be healthy, and which will benefit both.

Third, unfortunately, the change mentioned is not always in a positive direction. For example, a person with an addiction is on a downward slide, and trying to bring the other person with him/her.

Fourth, I would argue that women (as a generalization) are more prone to keep looking back (e.g. Mrs. Lot), and also more vulnerable to fear. Both of these traits tend to inhibit change in themselves, but they may still exhort their spouse to change.

Finally, I agree completely that grace is needed in abundance.

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

My stedpad said the most common mistakes made by men and women going into marriage are that women tend to mistakenly think the man won't chnage while men mistakenly think the woman won't change. This seems to be a widely attested observation. Per rdsmith3's observation, perhaps part of wisdom is knowing when an axiom or proverb applies and when it doesn't. It is possible to use a good proverb at the wrong time and when it doesn't apply. It was one of the old running jokes in Fiddler on the Roof, if memory serves, that Tevye might quote an axiom that wasn't in the Torah or that didn't apply to a situation at hand.

Jared said...

Wenatchee, what proverb are you referring to?

I stand by my observation that women are more prone to change (good *and* bad) than men and that men don't change easily. I would also add that men not changing isn't necessarily a good thing: in fact, it's most often *not* a good thing not to grow and change.

So I wasn't saying in my post that we should let men and women do whatever they want. I'm saying we ought to understand the way men and women are wired differently and let that help us be grace-driven in our relationship with our spouses.

David Edmisten said...

Basing the relationship on grace is so key. Regardless of who's changing when, I think we all enter into marriage with some ideas that get turned on their heads down the road. This is a lifetime relationship - if its not growing, changing or developing, chances are you are in trouble.

But learning to develop understanding, forgiveness and grace in your reactions and actions is critical to healthy survival. And the start is to admit that we don't know how to do this, and ask God for his grace to guide us in His light.

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

Jared, I'm referring to any and every proverb. I wasn't disputing the reliability of the observation about the sexes, since my stepdad's observation has been simillar. I was trying to get at how wisdom does not reside in any one proverb or axiom but in recognizing when the proverb or axiom applies in a given situation or person. Job's friends had a theology that was, broadly speaking, pretty accurate but that didn't mean they were right to dogpile Job the way they did.

Jared said...

Wenatchee, gotcha. Good word.