Song of Solomon 5:3 “I have washed my feet; how shall I defile them?” Here is a bit of an aside, but I believe a crucial one. If a husband (or wife) is out late working, then the spouse needs to find some way of being available on a daily basis…if not the minute he arrives home, then at some other time of the day or night…but each day or night. Erratic work schedules and chronic exhaustion are endemic problems in this generation, and it may require much prayerful thought and creativity to see that a couple’s needs are getting met regularly, but it is mandatory if a functional, happy relationship is to be developed and maintained.
If either spouse is out late carousing, then there is a critical problem in the marriage, but the solution is not simply to ignore the wayward mate’s needs and selfishly conclude, “If you’re not going to keep your end of the bargain, then I’m not going to keep my end either!” In the flesh, any one would feel this way, but that is not God’s way. God calls us to a life of daily laying our lives on the altar, of unselfishly loving and continuing to meet the needs of others whether or not our love is rewarded or returned. It is truly the love of Christ that constrains us to continue on in miserable relationships…not because we’re “too stupid” or “too dependent” or “too foolish” to extricate ourselves, but because we have given our lives to our Lord and Master, and we are bound by his laws to remain in the marriage relationship until death parts us (Mark 10:2-12; Jesus did give adultery as the one possible exception in Matthew 19:9).
If your marriage is anything less than destroyed by adultery, then hang in there and remember that “he hath made every thing beautiful in His time” (Ecclesiates 3:11). There was a time, not so very long ago, in my own relationship with my husband, that I would gladly have left him had I not believed it would be disobedient and dishonoring to God. As I look back, from the perspective of the happy peace that blesses our marriage today, I am doubly glad to have endured past our “roller-coaster” relationship that left me chronically discouraged and dissatisfied. No, my husband was not an alcoholic who beat the children and me, he was an all-too- normal, overworked, emotionally detached husband who had not learned how to love (married to a wife who was struggling to learn the same lessons). He was an excellent doctor and a law-abiding citizen…but until the love of Christ fills the hearts of both the husband and wife, there is no blessed fellowship. “Can two walk together, except they be agreed” (Amos 3:3)? The answer is, “No, not happily!”
But, God is so merciful! Eventually the Lord brought us to the place where we did agree, at least enough to walk together happily. Indeed, in God’s own time and his own way, he made “every thing beautiful.” How happy I am to have endured! Now I can give testimony to the truth of James 5:11: “Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful and of tender mercy.”
By the way, my husband could give a similar testimony. Even though we each feel that we are giving 100% and wonder why our spouse isn’t trying, our spouse is trying to the best of his/her ability…as dysfunctional or as insignificant as the efforts appear…to the disgruntled but also very imperfect mate! Learning how to truly love another person is like learning how to drive on the opposite side of the road. For us in America, it would be like trying to negotiate London traffic without getting into an accident! My husband often says that the day he married me he felt like he had been given a 747 to pilot…but not only didn’t he know how to fly, he didn’t even know that he needed a pilot’s license. Another friend said his father counseled him that marrying a woman was like being given a cat in a bag—you really have no clue what you’re getting until you open the bag. (And, although he didn’t say this to me, I wonder if many men feel like they’ve received a cornered cat at first. I’m pretty sure Alan did.)
Don’t despair! Don’t give up. Don’t quit. Keep praying. Keep waiting. Keep working and thinking. Think of your spouse as a computer that you’ve received in a box. If you don’t study the manual (the Scriptures) over and over and over again, you’ll never understand how to use that computer! It’ll just keep crashing.
Is your husband (wife) knocking? Oh, don’t sleep on! Get up before it’s too late and open the door!