Work things out!

I remember when my parents divorced. They had a lot of arguments before then, and I think the main issue was that my parents didn’t know how to communicate with one another. Another issue was that my father was always away (he was in the Navy and gone for many months at a time). There were other issues too, but I think those stemmed from the two issues already mentioned.

Even though I did not see my father very often when my parents were married, divorce felt very different. Divorce was like a death. It kind of reminds me of the story of Lazarus and the Rich Man in Luke 16; in verses 22, 23, and 26 it has, “The time came when the beggar [Lazarus] died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he [the rich man] was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side… there is a great chasm separating us.” This was what it was like for me—seeing my father but not being able to be in his presence.

Sometimes I wonder what I would have been like if my parents would have stayed together and saw a marriage counselor and worked things out. Would I have been more outgoing? Friendlier? Instead I find myself emotionally distant from people.

I think some of the issues I experienced earlier in my marriage was a result of my parents’ divorce—how could I truly trust and love anyone if he’s just going to leave me like my father left me? I think this might be a reason why some children of divorced parents get divorced themselves—they have a lack of trust so they do not fully give 100% into their own marriage.

I think my marriage was headed in that direction—divorce, but God intervened. After our 16th anniversary we both took a class, “Marriage Enrichment.” It was taught by Dr. Bill Cutrer and his wife, Jane (Dr. Cutrer is the co-author of the book, “Sexual Intimacy in Marriage,” http://www.amazon.com/Sexual-Intimacy-Marriage-William-Cutrer/dp/0825424372).

The class made me realize that my husband and I had a communication problem—I would say something, but he would take it to mean something else; and when he said something, I would take it to mean something negative. There were other issues too, but I think it steamed from this main issue.

After the class had ended, we signed up for weekend marriage seminars and other helpful courses, and after a while we realized that we no longer needed these courses anymore—our marriage had stabilized.

This year my husband and I will celebrate our 29th anniversary in November. I am amazed that my marriage has lasted this long— sadly, all of my siblings have had one or more divorces.

What is really amazing about my marriage is that I truly love this man. I feel blessed to have shared my life with him— we had the privilege of raising our four beautiful children together, seeing the three older ones get married, and God has now blessed us with three beautiful, smart, and amazing granddaughters.

My wonderful marriage is what drives me to want to help couples. I know that if they could just get through the rough period, then the rest of the marriage would be so much better.

I have a passion to help married people stay together. In fact, I did a study on keeping marriages from ending in divorce (http://books.google.com/books/about/Marriage_Mentoring_with_Couples_in_Marit.html?id=eAdnMwEACAAJ). If at all possible, I think married people should avoid divorce (although, I realize that there are circumstances when it is necessary).

If you are having problems in your marriage, then please find a good marriage counselor (http://www.aacc.net/resources/find-a-counselor/) and try to work things out. Don’t give up!

Copyright © 2013 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti
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Do you love your neighbor?

Marriage is a funny thing. Out of all the relationships we have on earth, the marital relationship is the one that tests our patience and the extent of our love (the next most difficult relationship is the one we have with our children).

In Matthew 22:37-39, Jesus tells us the two most important commandments– (1) “love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind” (“This is the first and greatest commandment”), and (2) “Love your neighbor as yourself” (this is “equally important”).

I think it’s easy to love our neighbor– the people next door we hardly ever see or the one who bags our grocery, but it can be hard to love the neighbor we live with– someone we see all the time. There is more opportunity to have disagreements with the person we see 24/7– this is the true test of love.

In 1 John 4:7-8 it says that “love comes from God” and that “God is love.” So we can’t truly love someone unless we have placed our trust in God– “Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God” (1 Jn 4:7, NLT). So in order for us to “love our neighbor”– our spouse, our children, our family members, etc., we must love God. If we are having a hard time loving our spouse or our children, then we must see if we truly love God.

There was a time when I could go from loving my husband to hating my husband on a daily basis. When all was well, I loved him, but when we had a bad disagreement then I hated him. We used to have terrible arguments during the first ten or 15 years of our marriage– my husband would punch walls and I would throw dishes– both of us screaming at each other.

I can look back and see that I did not love God as much as I love Him now, and that lack of love for God was reflected in the lack of love I had for my husband. As I started to grow in my relationship with God, my love for Him grew and my love for my husband grew as well.

We still have disagreements and even arguments sometimes, but they are not as volatile as they once were. We still maintain that love for one another even though we are upset. The patience and love I have for my husband is only made possible because of God.

How about you– do you love your neighbor?

Copyright © 2013 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti