In officiating this season’s weddings, I am reminded about the exuberance and ecstatic joy felt by couples approaching their big day. I am also reminded about all the attention to details and stresses that come in the planning process. Many people spend more on their wedding day than any other thing in their lives. With the venue, the food, the services. It all adds up. When we pass from the season of singleness into that of marriage, we often focus on the ending of the one season, yet don’t fully prepare for the beginning of the next. It is important to set a foundation for the marriage that includes the practical and often unromantic parts of our lives.
Making a lasting marriage will have its challenges. Challenges that reveal our flaws and test our commitment to the vows we speak. Marriage is a beautiful thing, and it is a difficult thing. The reason being is that we as persons in relationship to other persons is a beautiful and difficult thing. We are people, not ideas. We are individuals with personalities, wills, and desires. Eventually, times will come when there is a conflict between a couple’s personalities, wills, and desires. This becomes the testing ground for the quality of marriage we have, as it is the testing ground for the quality of person we are. How do we deal with the conflict? Are we healthy in our approach?
Research has shown that the common ground for people who are relationally happy rests on one character trait–vulnerability. Vulnerability in marriage requires risk. It requires courage. It requires the willingness to put our hearts out their and be open to share when we are hurt by our spouse. The emotional danger is very real. We risk being hurt and rejected by the one closest to us. I know from a man’s perspective, that we are socialized to show only certain emotions-anger & frustration. We are not socialized to share when we are emotionally wounded, scared, or hurt. That is a disservice, not only to men, but to marriages. When men are not shown the validity and value of being vulnerable with their wives, it hinders intimacy and connection. By extension, we set the pace for our wives to be on the defensive and less apt to be vulnerable. That is how marriages grow distant.
It is easy to exhibit anger and frustration. It is easy to use our brute strength to control what emotions we let out and how those around us behave. But that is not in line with true, godly manliness. True manliness requires courage, bravery, and strength. Courage to admit our vulnerable feelings. Bravery to voice when we are hurt by our spouse in a loving a gracious way. Strength to walk through the vulnerable emotions and come out on the other side a better man and more intimate with our wife. We are not to use our physical strength to control those around us in relationship; we are to use it to empower them. We are to use our strength to create a safe environment for those in our life to grow and flourish. We use our power to empower others.
Jesus used his power to empower others. He sent the disciples out in pairs with power to heal the sick and cast out devils. He empowers the church through the Holy Spirit. Each person who names the name of Christ is empowered by the Holy Spirit to live and love the mandates of Scripture. The crux of that is vulnerability. We are vulnerable and openly honest with where we are and how we feel in the presence of God and those closest to us. Our pride, ego, reputation must all fall by the wayside as we obey Jesus in picking up our crosses and following him. We die to self so we can be open and honest in the scary places of feeling hurt and rejected. We deny ourselves to create a safe place for our family to flourish.
If couples spent a fraction of their wedding budget on setting the foundation for a lasting marriage, they would have invested that fraction into life-empowering guidance. Let us lift up those newly married in our circles with prayer and support, and encourage them to practice a lifestyle of vulnerability. Amen!