The woman I share a bathroom sink with today is not the woman I married back in 2005. Same name, yes, but certainly not the same person. She keeps changing, keeps pushing me out of my complacency. Just when I think I’ve got her moods and vagaries hashed out, she throws away the script.
And I’m glad for that—glad for all her changes.
But embracing change in a relationship goes against the headwinds of my family and culture. My parents had a cold and distant relationship that soured the air of our house. And my dad sounded a great deal like the man that blogger Matt Walsh ran into recently:
“[Guy]: …You think of divorce as this scary thing, but sometimes it’s the only way to be happy. You shouldn’t stay in a marriage if you’re miserable. Things change. You wake up and suddenly she’s not the same person you married. It happens. Trust me.”
For Walsh, this sort of thinking has given rise to so-called “divorce parties,” which celebrate the breaking of a vow with drinking and dancing. The main problem, Walsh says in a trending blog post, is that our culture now glorifies devastating moral failure:
“This is what we do in our culture. Not just with divorce, but with so many other brands of bad decisions. We first justify them, then we advertise and sell them, then we celebrate them, then we insist that everyone else celebrate along with us. In the case of divorce, it is now a literal celebration. With balloons and invitations and cake.”
But in marriage, change comes because—well—people always change. When spouses choose divorce because of this transformation, it’s as if they can’t stand the lack of control they have over the other person:
“I’m not making light of it. I know that sometimes people change in a painful and inconvenient manner. I know that my wife could change in ways that don’t cooperate with my projections of how she should be and feel and think.
“I guess that’s what people really mean when they say they want a divorce because their spouse ‘changed.’ It’s not change itself they oppose, but changes that challenge them and make them uncomfortable. What they should say is: ‘I want a divorce because she changed in a way that doesn’t fit inside my comfort zone.’ ”
But when we embrace the change, when we love our spouse through life, we’re letting God transform both people to be more like Him. In fact, the only way for a marriage to grow is if we “die to self,” as Janet Thompson explains in a recent article:
“Since Dave [my husband] and I prayed to exchange our ways for God’s ways, God has seen us through challenging times and amazing times and we’re always careful to give him the glory. Every morning I pray John 3:31 “He [Jesus] must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.”
“If you too want to experience the blessings of dying to self, are you ready to—
- Completely surrender your will to God’s will?
- Seek God’s direction before making decisions and respond accordingly?
- Be in the minority—sometimes even among fellow Christians?
- Care about others more than your own well-being and comfort?
- Live counter-culture?
- Care more about what God thinks about you then what people think about you?”
What’s your take on so-called “divorce parties”? What’s the secret to growing a marriage through change?