The following scenario projects the experience of a real couple (names change) who are typical of many couples I have worked with over the years. It speaks to us as parents and it speaks to us as mates. As parents it reminds us to evaluate the impact of our personal and corporate lives upon our children. As mates it challenges us to take two actions. The first action is to evaluate the impact of our family of origin upon our perspective of our marriage. The second is to give our mate the benefit of the doubt and the opportunity to express his/her concerns within the relationship.
As she was growing up, Sally would overhear her mother questioning her father’s loyalty to her friends from time to time. Sally married right out of high school. The marriage only lasted a year or two because her husband cheated on her several times. Several years later she met her husband and the father of her three children. The first five years of their marriage she thought he was perfect. There had been no objective reason to suspect that her husband had been unfaithful. However, over time and seeing other men in their church become unfaithful to their wives, Sally began to hear her mother’s conversations run through her mind. She became possessive and distrustful of him. Over the next 13years this distrust controlled her and consequently the relationship. In fact she would wake up from dreams of either finding him with another woman or filling for divorce. Thus, THIS was her belief! He will be unfaithful! This belief produced unexpected and unwarranted anger. She consumed him with her anger. She provoked him with her suspicions. She spoke evil of him to his face and to others. She held a grudge towards him for what her first husband did. As a result, he would sometimes lie to her just to keep her from blowing up. Obviously, the sexual relationship suffered. She would withhold sex and when she did desire it, he would not be interested because he lived with feelings rejection. Eventually, he developed some emotional attachments to other women because they respected him and talked with him (encouraging words, comforting words, tender words). They were comfortable to be with. When she discovered these two relationships—one at work and one at the church—it confirmed her belief. Divorce was inevitable!
Do you remember the movie Ghost Busters? Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd had unique equipment for the task of dispensing with ghosts. As believers we have been given unique equipment to disperse the ghosts of our past. We have the indwelling Holy Spirit to enable us to live in obedience to God. We have the mechanism of mind renewal (putting off the old man, having our minds renewed, and putting on the new man—Eph. 4:22-24). We have the one another passages to teach us how to relate and how not to relate to our mates Eph. 5:22-32). We have yet another passage which displays the model of Jesus for dealing with suffering (I Peter 2:21-25).
Whatever the source of our fears, our bad habits or our suspicions, the Word is sufficient to provide us with the means or reconfiguring our belief systems. As a believer Sally has no excuse to continue to allow the mistakes or sins of her mother haunt her life and marriage. On the other hand, her husband has no excuse for investing in other relationships to compensate for the struggles with Sally. As a husband responsible for loving leadership he too must capitalize the resources available to him through the Word of God and the body of Christ.
Let me encourage you in your marriage and/or in your ministry to challenge and resolve the past so that it is not or does not become your present.