2 Husbands: Start with the End in Mind

Edward Lee

Jun 15, 2021

(Excerpt from Husbands, Wives, God: Introducing the Marriages of the Bible to Your Marriage - 10 Year Anniversary Edition)   

  A few years ago I had an unusual day where on the same afternoon I visited two different men, both facing their last few days. The conversations on that day with these two men provided good insight into how perspectives affect the quality of a marriage. In the context of marriage, a “perspective” is the way that a husband and wife evaluate both the way they relate to each other and the quality of their marriage.

 

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    With both of these men staring into the bleak reality of their future, they openly reflected on how they had evaluated and related to their respective spouses during the years of their marriage. It seems that facing the inevitably of death brings about a clearer perspective on life and marriage, a vantage point that may have been missing in better times. I know, I know—death or the loss of a spouse is not something we like to think about. It is not my favorite topic either, especially when I think about life without my wife. But as 1 Thessalonians 4:13 reminds us regarding the death of a Christian, we have a reason to hope since our loved one is going to heaven to be with the Lord Jesus Christ. Additionally, by looking from the end of marriage backward, a couple gains insight on how to live from where they are forward.


Unhealthy Perspective, Unhealthy Marriage

     As I sat with the first man, he wept openly and bitterly as he reflected on how he had treated his wife during the course of their marriage. He attributed their years of financial and emotional strain, as well as the burdens that he was leaving his wife to deal with after his death, to his stubbornness and unwillingness to listen to her during their marriage. His perspective of his wife’s role in their marriage had been that her input was worthless or subordinate to his. This husband’s evaluation of his wife led him to dominate his wife and to control every aspect of their relationship. His exalted appraisal of himself and low opinion of his spouse resulted in an unhealthy perspective. This unhealthy perspective kept him unwilling to accept his wife’s input; instead, he dis- regarded her contributions to making key decisions and eventually relegated her to the sidelines of their marriage. In his final days, with time to lie in bed and reflect on their life together, he realized that his ill-founded perspectives of his role as a husband and his wife’s worth had strangled the joy from their marriage.


Healthy Perspective, Healthy Marriage

 

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     The second man was facing the same [health] fate as the first, yet as I visited with him, he articulated a very different attitude about the inevitability of his death. As soon as I walked into the room, it was apparent that this man and his marriage had been shaped by a different assessment (perspective) of his life and marriage. This couple was singing gospel songs and hymns, clapping and laughing during those last weeks. Rejoicing over and being thankful for the good years they had shared together, they faced this most difficult time with a sense of genuine joy that enabled them to endure the breaking of their hearts. Sure, there was fear and bouts of uncertainty, but their evaluation (perspective) of the situation was that they had enjoyed a good life together and for that they were thankful to God. The husband shared with me that his approach to marriage was to always accept his wife as a gift from God, even when he did not agree with her viewpoint. He was clearly the head of their home, but his wife was highly valued, appreciated, and respected - equally. As a result, he and his wife had built a love and friendship that grew even until his last day.

     These two men held very different perspectives on their marriages. One saw marriage as something to control and that had to fit into his way of thinking. The other saw marriage as a joint venture in which both had input and which was something to enrich the relationship. He often laid aside his point of view to listen to his wife and receive her contribution. The polar opposite paths these two marriages traveled begins to illustrate how perspectives mitigate the overall quality of a marriage. They can either strangle the love out of a marriage, or they can usher love into a marriage. In spite of the circumstances that arise during the course of a marriage, the way in which a husband and wife choose to evaluate each other determines the path that the relationship will travel.

     If you could fast forward to the end of your marriage, which of the two marriages above would you wish to be able to identify with? Would it be the one strangled by rigid perspectives or the one allowed to thrive by seeing the spouse as an equal? Okay, the answer may be too obvious: few if any of us would willingly choose to be in a bad marriage and suffer the misery of regret. Yet, as the ever increasing divorce rate evidences, even with the deep desire to get the most out of their relationships, many couples end up lamenting their lives together. It is a lament that is often the result of the inability to understand and effectively communicate their perspectives about life, marriage, and love, throughout the marriage. How they choose to manage their perspectives and allow them to shape their marriage is the choice between having a lifetime of marital partnership or a lifetime of marital misery…

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Written by:

Edward Lee

Jun 15, 2021

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