Looking under the hood in marriage

This morning at ManSchool we talked about being willing to look “under the hood”.  John Eldredge talked about his his old Toyota Land Cruiser and how he tends to neglect checking the oil, radiator, battery, etc. and while he knows he needs to, there is just something in him that doesn’t want to look under the hood.  He’d rather crank it and go because to open the hood means he might have to face the cost of his neglect.  As he says, “There is an undeniable lesson in life – pay now or pay a lot more later”.  We can suck it up and get off our butts and exercise or we can just choose to put it off and hope.  But years later, 20 pounds overweight we begin to pay for it.  Longer-term we’ll really pay.  We do this with our teeth – we know we should floss but really, how many of us consistently do it?

I’ve shared with you the story of Gary Player and how a man in the crowd kept saying, “man, I’d give anything to be able to hit a golf ball like that…” After hearing this 3-4 times, Player turned and marched up to him and said, (paraphrase) “I don’t think you would give anything to hit a golf ball like me.  I hit 1,000 range balls a day, every day for years.  Then I picked up those 1,000 range balls, worked in the clubhouse and hit another 1,000 range balls at the end of the day.  I was willing to “give anything” to be able to play like this.  You wouldn’t “give anything” because you haven’t.”

But back to today – John turns this inward to our prayer life.  Are we going to keep offering up easy little “Lord be with us” prayers – or – are we willing to go deep in our prayer life?  Are you willing to look under the hood?  Are you willing to ask – really ask – God about your life?  Are you willing to open up the wounds in your marriage or do you just shut the hood and hope it gets better?

And then today, I read this on a blog…

“One day you walk through your living room and notice a slight crack in the wall.  It is barely visible, so you think it’s too small to worry about.  Now this is a perfectly plausible statement.  The crack is minor and not worth re-ordering your day over.  Several months later, your wife notices the crack has become sizably larger.  It is now very noticeable, so she asks if you would do something about it.  You say, “I’ll get to it when I have time”.  When you tell her that, you’re not lying.  You really do intend to fix it when you have a few free moments.  The problem is that those moments never come…because you haven’t found that mysterious free moment in your schedule, the crack in the wall is now three inches wide and runs from the ceiling to the floor.  It has morphed from a minor problem to a major problem.  It simply cannot be ignored any longer.  At this point, however, it will take real skill to fix it.  So you say to yourself, “this is way too big for me to deal with”.  Overwhelmed with what you are facing, you realize you are incapable of solving it.”  (From Paul Tripp’s book, Broken Down House)

We have a tendency to ignore the cracks in our lives.  We just let it go and think the little things don’t matter.  They do.

I share this with you because a good friend of mine is about to finalize his divorce after 28 years of marriage.  A second close brother just was served with divorce papers after about 25 years of marriage.

I know some of the stories behind both of these and know cracks were ignored.  Those cracks grew and grew and became fissures.  They began to separate inside their marriages.  He went his way, she went hers.  Disagreements over money.  Control issues.  Sex issues.  Creeping anger.  “She cares more about the kids than me” – or “All I’m good for is money – a six foot tall ATM.”  Or from her, “All he wants me for is sex” – or – “Why is he so withdrawn?  Why won’t he open up to me?”  You know the drill.

This strikes close to home.  Too close.  We ALL have cracks in the walls – even inside the very best marriages – because we are all human.  There are always cracks that need to be repaired.

So my challenge to you is this – How is your marriage?  Where are the cracks – even the very small ones that you can ignore for quite some time?

What are you going to do about it?  Are you going to just ignore them and hope they get better or somehow she’ll just change?  Do you think the Enemy is here working on these cracks, applying pressure and stress to them and delighting as the crack grows?

Unfortunately, in this fallen world, we are going to have to battle.  We have to be warriors.  We can sit in our bark-a-loungers and just hope – or – we can do something about it.

This is where the Band of Brothers is so important.  This is where you need other men fighting alongside you.  But more importantly, this is where conversational intimacy with God is CRUCIAL.  You need to go into prayer –

“Lord, what is it I need to see?  What do you want to say to me Father?  Why is this issue nagging at me?  What deeper wound is there Lord that I never dealt with that this small issue with my wife is triggering?  What have I pushed down – years ago – that is the root cause of this hostility I feel, this abandonment, this sense of “alone-ness”?  Speak to me Father.  I will sit and listen.  Elijah prayed seven times to finally hear.  I will listen 8x, 9x, 10x Lord.  Whatever it takes on your time line but Father, I want to break this.  I want freedom.  I want to love my wife.  I want a Godly marriage.  Speak Lord…speak.”

enough for now…more to come my brothers


One Reply to “Looking under the hood in marriage”

  1. Wow. What a powerful post.

    I, too, have witnessed many friends and family members ignore the cracks. I’ve seen them attempt to cover up the cracks with a little “putty” while ignoring the root cause of the problem. They throw money or a “weekend trip” at the problem. They think they have “fixed” it but the problem still lingers. Sure, it may not be “visible” for now, but the cover-up soon gives way to the reality – the problem has not been resolved.

    We must empty ourselves of all things that separate us from God so we can see things how he sees things. We must learn look to through His eyes first – to understand how He wants things done – and respond accordingly.

    I’ve learned over the years to “look through the eyes of my customer” when providing products and services. When I look through their eyes, I’m better able to deliver (1) what they need, (2) what they want and, most importantly, (3) what they deserve.

    I’ve learned that there is a progression, too.

    If all I focus on is delivering the “needs”, I can “get by” and survive.

    When I focus on delivering what they “want”, I see a happier customer and I am happier, too.

    But, when I focus on delivering what they “deserve”, I can literally change their life and mine as well.

    All of our “customers” (read wife, children, friends, family, etc.) DESERVE our very best.in all things.

    We have to stop covering up the cracks and get to the root cause of the failures to enjoy the best in life!

    Thanks for the reminder!

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