Climbing Out of Marriage's Deepest Pit

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"In your anger do not sin" [1]: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry." (Ephesians 4:26)

It was 4:00 p.m. on Valentine's Day when I remembered my basketball game. I reached for the phone to call Norma, My bride of less than a year.

"Honey, I forgot to tell you have a basketball game tonight. We're supposed to be there about 7:00. I'll pick you up about 6:30."

Silence hung heavily on the line before she answered, "But this is Valentine's Day."

"Yeah, I know, but I need to be there tonight because I promised the team. I don't want to let them down."

"But I have a special dinner prepared with candles and-"

"Can you hold it off until tomorrow?" She didn't answer, so I continued. (What I was about to say caused a great deal of damage in our relationship. Like many young husbands, I didn't have the slightest hint of how deeply this would wound her.' "Honey, you know how important it is for a wife to submit to her husband. I really need to be there tonight, and if we're going to start off with good habits in the early part of our marriage, now is the time to begin. If I'm going to be the leader of the family, I need to make the decisions."

"Ice" perfectly describes the reception I received when I picked her up. It was easy to see I had severely offended her, but I figured she had to learn to be submissive sometime and we might as well start now.

The lifeless expression on her face grew worse as the evening wore on. When we returned home after the game, I noticed that the table was all set up for a special dinner-candles, our best dishes, and pretty napkins. She still wasn't speaking to me the next day, so I rushed to the florist to gather a variety of flowers, which I put in various spots all over the house. That warmed her up a little. Then I gave her a giant card with a hand on the front that could be turned thumbs up or thumbs down. "Which way is it?" I asked her. She turned it thumbs up. I never said whether I was right or wrong, only that I felt badly about the night before. And so began a history of offenses I never knew how to clear up with her.

Had someone not shared with me later the secret of developing a lasting and intimate relationship, we might have joined the millions who seek divorce each year. Couples often ask me, "Where have we gone wrong?" "Why don't we feel romantic toward each other?" "How come we argue so much?" These problems are not primarily attributable to incompatibility, sexual problems, financial pressure, or any other surface issues. They are a direct result of accumulated offenses. If a husband and wife can understand how to maintain harmony by immediately working to clear up every hurtful offense between them, they can climb out of such common problems and every marriage's deepest pit-divorce.

Love is not about whether or not I should have gone to the basketball game, love is about recognizing when I hurt my mate's feelings and then asking how I can repair them.

"Lord, when I sit in silence yearning to hear your voice, let me be still for the moment. For it is in my anticipation that you will come."

2003 Smally Online. Used by permission.