[notice]A fortnightly column on marriage, family and relationships.[/notice]
Major companies go through a time of stocktaking. They do that so that they know how much stock of each of their products they have and how much they need to buy. They do stocktaking to know where they are in their business; to know the condition of their stock and where they will need to improve or which systems they need to discard. The Bible warns us in Proverbs 27: 23 to “Know well the condition of your flocks, and pay attention to your herds”.
In marriages people change. So many times we hear of couples divorcing because of ‘irreconcilable differences”. More often than not, they reach the place of “irreconcilable difference” because they did not pay attention to the little things. They did not pay attention to the little differences that developed in their relationship. The “little” differences become big problems that are unmanageable to the point where they find themselves in a divorce court. The Bible says it is the little foxes that spoil the vine. When you do not pay attention to your stock; to your marriage you will be surprised when you discover a completely different person than the one you married.
In our country in just over a month we will be celebrating 20years of democracy. We will be taking a look back at what has worked in these 20years. What is our legacy as a nation? What must we focus on going forward. What are we most proud of as a country? What have been our lowest points? South Africa in April will be doing some introspection. Each older citizen will be remembering where he was in the months leading up to the elections and definitely remembering where he cast his vote on that historical day in our country, the 27th of April, 1994
Your spouse is constantly changing
In our marriages and families we should do some stocktaking every now and again to see where we are, where we want to go and to get to know our spouse and the changes that are happening in their life. Whether you have been married for one, five, 10 or 30 years, your spouse is constantly changing. The man or woman you married on your wedding day is not the same person that wears your ring today. They have changed physically; emotionally and in how they might be seeing the world. Experiences shape and change us for the better or the worse.
I am not the same woman I was when I said ’I do’ almost 13 years ago. I have been forever changed by living out the sacred roles of wife and mother. From being a new mother to my eldest son who is now 10 years old to being a mother of three, I have learnt a lot of lessons along the way. My dreams and goals have also changed as God has continued to show me, teach me and guide me. As He gives me more and more assignments I have had to adapt to the needs of those assignments. Even in your marriage God is constantly guiding your spouse and constantly shaping them to their assignment. Some of us do not want these changes as they can be very uncomfortable. We want the person to remain the same. We want the same comfortable situation we had years ago and now your spouse wants to move to another level; wants to move to another town; another job; another church; go back to school; wants to start a business; wants to go to another country.
Changes come in different packages and wearing different hats but they will come knocking at your door. Your spouse can either leave you at the level where you want to remain or you both jump out of the boat of your comfortable circumstances! The choice is up to each person. It is at this crossroads where many marriages do not make it. It is at thesedecision making, life changing, marriage changing, family changing points where people decide to go their separate ways because “we want different things”.
The problem I find is when you want to change the other person. It is when you expect your spouse to think like you and see the world like you. They are a completely different person with a different outlook on life and experiences that have shaped them and that makes them who they are. These qualities are the very things you might have fallen inlove with in the beginning but when you are in a marriage might be the very things that you can’t stand. Take stock to see if you are still on the same pag; if you still believe in the same things; if you are still working towards the same goals!
Take stock of your life. How have you changed? Really spend time with yourself and deal with areas in your life that you are not proud of and that you want to change and work on. It is true that you cannot change a person but you can certainly change you if you really want — and see the need. Change if you must for the sake of your marriage. It takes two for a marriage to work. IT REALLY DOES. You can be going to a marriage counsellor; you can go to a pastor or involve your extended family in solving your problems with your spouse but ultimately it is up to the two people involved to make it work. The work is your responsibility. The pastor; counsellor or family can advise but to make a relationship work and move forward is up to the couple.
Focus on the same goal
I am reminded of a situation we had as a family last Sunday. We are teachers at church and teach the different age groups on Sunday before church starts. As teachers we need to be early for the classes. On Sunday however, 30minutes before we were supposed to leave my husband went to start the car. The car refused to start!! It had to be kick started. I had to push either from the back or the front to get it moving in the direction that we needed it to go. That car would have remained stationary if we did not push it; if we only wished it to move it would not have moved. It only moved and eventually got us to church because we focused on the problem and did all we could to get it to work. We could have given up and done nothing about our situation but we worked together to get that car moving forward. It is the same with our marriages they are not going to go anywhere if we do not work together to move them forward. They will not get anywhere when one is not cooperating; when one is going in an opposite direction. You have to focus on the same goal — that of getting your marriage to work.
“Catch the foxes, the little foxes, before they ruin our vineyard in bloom” (Song of Solomon 2:15).
This text says Catch!! To catch is a deliberate action. You decide to do something about the situation. You put systems in place; a trap to catch the foxes. You deal with the situation. It says BEFORE THEY RUIN. If they are left to go in the vineyard they will definitely ruin the vineyard. DO SOMETHING ABOUT YOUR SITUATION. The devil is very sneaky about how he sets up his plans. He is very patient as well. His intention, as the Bible warns us, is to kill, steal and destroy.
Whether good or bad do not ignore the little things that are happening in your marriage. A baby does not start out that way. Life starts with the coming together of little things — sperm and an egg. From those life continues to grow. In the beginning even the woman who is pregnant does not know that she is pregnant until she starts noticing changes in her behaviour. It is months before the pregnancy is visible to other people. Do not look down on little things. Good “little” things add much to the good health of the relationship just like little bad things take away and suck the life away from the marriage.
A continuous fight
A little hurt here that is not dealt with can build up; a little disrespect, a little offense all these can get to a point where they are big problems if you do not deal with them when they are small. Catching little foxes involves fighting. They will not just leave — you have to be proactive in fighting them off. It is a continuous fight because with each level and with each victory they will come to threaten the harvest of your marriage. You have to be alert to the subtle threats of the enemy. He does not come in very obvious ways but little by little chips away at the sanctity of your relationship. The goal is not to fight each other but to deal together with the foxes that threaten the precious vineyard that is your marriage. The husband or wife is not the enemy. They are not the ‘fox”. Many times, when fights occur in relationships people fight each other instead of dealing with the problem together.
Take stock of your relationship to see where you have let little foxes in to spoil your vines. Take good care of your relationship by constantly fighting off foxes that threaten your marriage. Be attentive to the needs of your spouse. Do not take for granted his or her complaints.
MAKE WHAT IS IMPORTANT BE IMPORTANT. DON’T WAIT UNTIL YOU GET TO HAVE IRRECONCIABLE DIFFERENCES TO TAKE STOCK OF YOUR RELATIONSHIP!!!!!! DO IT NOW!!!!!!!!!!! DO IT OFTEN!!!