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Marriage is simple but not easy

For many, marriage is supposed to be as easy as falling in love. And certainly those who’ve been married for any length of time realize that this is not the case. At the same time, we can often make marriage more complex than what’s necessary. That in many ways marriage is as simple as learning to love God and others as self. In this case, learning to love our spouse as self. It really is just that simple. But again, it’s not, it’s not something that’s necessarily easy to work out.

Husbands and wives have different burdens in the marriage

I think part of the difficulty in working out our practice of love in marriage is that we come into marriage with different perspectives, different burdens as husband and wife. Where as husbands, all the way back to Genesis, our burden is one of providing. And so it’s sorting through the thorns and thistles of life, trying to scratch a living by the sweat of our brow.

Husbands are generally more concerned with providing

And so how do we provide for our family? How do we provide for our wife? How do we provide for our kids, financially and otherwise? And so what keeps us up at night is often that. How do we provide? How do we make a living for our family? And not just climb the corporate ladder, truly how do we provide and bless our family, what they need? And this is our sacrifice. This is our act of love on their behalf.

Wives are typically more concerned with relational connection

But wives’ is burden is often different? The burden of Eve is often relational. That Eve is often very aware of how connected we are. Our wives often keep us in contact with our friends and family and each other. And when there is a disconnect there, she tends to fill the weight of that relational disconnect, disappointment greater than we do. And that’s part of her burden is the relational burden, the relational wisdom.

Again, there are exceptions there, where again, on both sides, we may play… the opposite. But generally speaking, our wives have a greater relational burden than we carry.

Marriage is often harder for our wives

And in this way, marriage is often harder for our wives than it is for us. That while we are concerned about providing, they’re concerned about how connected we are.

Two different version of the same marriage

And this can leave us with two radically different versions of the same marriage…that that the marriage is good for us when we are able to provide, when we’re able to bring the blessings to our family that we desire, then we’re in a good spot relationally as well. And when we’re not able to do that, then life sucks…like the world is essentially over. We’re on the verging on despair when we’re not able to provide the way we want to provide for our families.

While for many wives, this is not the case. For them, it doesn’t often matter how much money is in the bank account, it doesn’t matter where we live, as long as we’re able to be together, as long as we’re able to be connected while we’re doing that. Then in many ways, it doesn’t matter how much, again, money we have, or where we live, or the cars we have, or the groceries we have. Those things are not unimportant, but they’re not as high priority for our wives as it is for us. Where for them, again, is that that relational connection that that tends to matter more. And so when we have a disconnect there, we’re focused on how to provide for our family and they’re focused on how we’re connect relationally.

Often again, there may be a disconnect that in the very same marriage, she feels like we’re completely disconnected and on the verge of divorce. And we’re like…we don’t see that at all. Things seem fine to us. Things seem connected if we’re able to provide for our family’s needs.

1 Peter – Live with our wives with understanding

So I was reminded of the teaching in 1 Peter, where he tells us to live with our wives with understanding. And to do this so that our prayers would not be hindered.

And so there’s something here about understanding the burden of our wives, not that we’re going to completely get it. But I think part of that living with her with understanding is living with understanding that she carries a greater relational burden than we do.

And so this is not the takeaway from our burden of providing for our family, but it’s recognizing that her burden is different. And so how do we empathize with that? How do we live with understanding with that?

And so part of that is simply being patient when she says that we feel…disconnected. When she feels that we are not connected, how do we offer grace and kindness to that? Even though we don’t feel that ourselves, how do we offer grace and kindness and understanding to that perspective, to that burden that she’s carrying?

Husband are often made to feel like they’re to blame for everything in the marriage

I don’t pretend that this is easy to do. And many times, it can be made to feel out that we’re at fault for our marriage being the way that it is, that is our problem. And as long as we can just get our side of the street straightened, then everything in the marriage will be fine. And certainly we have our part to play.

But I think some of this understanding is simply not blaming her for her relational desires. It’s not trying to defend ourselves or prove how much that that we love her by things that that we do, and not blaming her for when she wants greater connection. But how do we enter into that? How do we offer her that that connection that she desires?

Hindered prayers leads to hindered ministry and impact

Because truth be told, again, as Peter is telling us, that if we don’t live with her with understanding, then our prayers are going to be hindered. And if our prayers are hindered, that also our prayer is going to be hindered…our ministry, our impact in the world is going to be hindered. And so we can’t have the impact that God created us to have if we don’t care for the heart of our wife. We can’t neglect her heart and have the impact that we were created to have. But to have the impact, we must live with her with understanding, with gentleness, with kindness. And part of that is understanding the relational burden that she carries.

And when she says, she feels disheartened, whether we agree that we feel disconnected or not, in many ways it’s irrelevant. If she’s feeling like we’re disconnected, how do we move toward her?

And again, that’s not negating what we’re doing, but we don’t have to defend our position either. That part of it is simply caring for where she’s at in that moment, to live with understanding. So that, the work that God has given us to do can continue as well.

Holding the tension of our burdens

Certainly this is not always easy to do and somehow we have to carry or at least be aware of both of these burdens that while we’re understanding our wives burden, this is not to give up our own. And so the ideal is not then to give up our provision and simply spend all day connecting relationally with our wife because now we’re neglecting who God has called us to be.

That part of navigating the complexity of marriage is holding this tension of…we still have the burden we still have the responsibility to provide AND how do we understand there’s relational component as well. And how do we deal with understanding ,with gentleness, and caring for the heart of our wife when she is longing for deeper relational connection. And not letting her suffer what relational disappointment when we have it within ourselves to move toward her and connect in deeper ways. Again, doing that without giving up are burdened to provide. Without giving up those things that God has called us to do.

And so our path forward in marriage is not always easy. It requires us to hold this tension of our different burdens that while we as husbands have the burden to provide for our family, our wives often have the burden to keep us relationally connected. And as such, they often feel relational disappointment quicker and greater than we do.

Don’t neglect your burden as you care for your wife’s

Part of our task is husband is to live with understanding with them. Not to let their own burden, but to understand theirs as well. And as we do this and care for their heart, then our prayers will not be hindered. Then we’re able to continue having the impact that we want to have in the world as well.

But if we’re not able to deal gently with her, if we’re not able to understand and care for her heart, then our prayers will be hindered. And our effectiveness in the world will also be hindered.

And so we must work together, that we must care for the heart of our wife so that we can continue to do the work that God has called us to do. These must work hand in hand.

And so work hard in providing for your family and continue to care for the heart of your wife as you do.

Dr. Corey Carlisle

Licensed marriage and family therapist and certified sex therapist - providing Christian counseling and soul care to individuals and couples, with a special emphasis on developing the masculine soul. Suwanee, GA 30024

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