Renewal in marriage
I REMEMBER a time when my husband and I had a fight. We were cleaning up the kitchen, and I got so angry I threw a sponge at him with a vengeance. Calmly he picked it up and said quietly, ``If you need to go and be alone for awhile, I'll finish the dishes.'' Well, that made me all the more furious, even though I knew he was right.
Begrudgingly I walked away. But as I turned my thought to God in prayer, I was left with a very humble sense of remorse. I went back to the kitchen and apologized for the outburst. ``How can you stand living with me?'' I cried. ``I'm so moody at times.'' He smiled, gave me a hug, and said, ``Dear, I've seen the best in you, and I can't forget that vision.''
In the ten years since that episode I can't say we've constantly kept such a vision of each other. But I can say that every time we've renewed our commitment to the vision of goodness in each other, there has been a renewal of tenderness, willingness to help each other, and good humor. This hasn't been some kind of psychologically manipulated change. It has been the result of our Christianity;it has had to do with our worship of God, good. As the Bible says, ``Let us love one another: for love is of God.''1
Sometimes in the intimacies of married life we are painfully aware of each other's limitations. Yet marriage isn't an excuse to become preoccupied with evil but an opportunity to learn more about and practice such qualities as unselfishness, honesty, forgiveness, and faithfulness. It's an opportunity to honor the beauty of God expressed in each other. In a sense, the discipline of family life is a discipline for all our relationships, and it broadens our sense of good.
In the chapter on marriage in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy2 writes, ``There should be the most tender solicitude for each other's happiness, and mutual attention and approbation should wait on all the years of married life.''3 One of the definitions of approbation is ``praise.'' Can we have any honest perspective on supporting someone's freedom from limiting character traits if we fail to grasp the goodness he has already expressed and that's inherent in his true, spiritual selfhood? The God-derived qualities that belong to each of us -- that characterize our real nature -- promise our freedom to put off anything unlike God.
There's obviously a humility involved in all this, a willingness to sacrifice strong human opinion. The power of the Christ, the divine healing influence, helps us to do this. Sometimes we forget how natural it is for us to express love. Perhaps we express it toward everyone except our spouse! The law of Christ awakens us to the freshness of our own relationship to God so that we more easily see and admit that spiritual relationship to be also true for those closest to us.
Christian Science describes man's relationship to God to be as immediate and as constant as the relationship of the sun to its rays. The rays possess the warmth and power of the sun. Warmth and tenderness are natural to man -- to our true being -- as the outcome of God, Love.
So many times when I have prayed about my marriage, the message that has come is that the important thing isn't so much how my husband and I are getting along at any one moment but the fact that we have always been related to God. To acknowledge God's delight in the spiritual, original identity of each individual is to acknowledge our freedom to delight not only in our spouse but in the best qualities of everyone.
Perhaps a common mistake is to believe that while things were good between us at the beginning of our marriage, they have now deteriorated beyond repair. But Christian Science invites us to go further back, to God's original conception of man as pure and loving. While it appears that man's conformity with this original fluctuates, our Christly, spiritual intuition tells us that God maintains the integrity of what He has created, and thus it can always be honored and rediscovered.
In the materialistic view of things marriages may seem to improve through things like better romance, fewer worries about money, or more or less time together. But these solutions always make marriage dependent on circumstances or the partner's willingness to do something. Even if a spouse seems totallydistant, we have a right to renew ourmarriage within our own heart, and continue to do so until a right adjustment takes place with our loved one.
We are not alone in our marriage, stuck with the limits of the personalities involved. God is communicating perfectly with each one through His Christ -- broadening, refreshing and unselfing thought -- and we can find renewal through our humble receptivity.
1I John 4:7. 2The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. 3Science and Health,p. 59. - NO BIBLE VERSE TODAY -