Call me old fashioned but today I want to talk to business people on the topic of marriage. The Ilocana and I have spent more than half of our lives together. We’ve been through the thick and the thin of life and I don’t mean waistlines. Started life as a couple, had dreams and looked at each other’s eyes in candlelit bistros when we were both single and skinny.
God has been gracious. Blesses us with 3 children we’re proud of, a decent roof over our heads and humble businesses that are growing and debt-free. We’ve had disagreements but we know what to do. When one is flaring up the other one just keeps quiet. Let the “tropical depression” pass first and then discuss the matter. The kids see this. This is why they know how to handle disagreements agreeably.
Maintaining a good marriage is not walk in the park. This reminds me of a story. A conversation took place between husband and wife: Wife: ‘What are you doing?’ Husband: “Nothing.” Wife: ‘Nothing? You are so sweet. You’ve been reading our marriage certificate for an hour.’ Husband: ‘I was looking for the expiration date.’ It is not true that most marriages fail. What is true is that most people in the marriage allow it to fail. And what causes this? “WORDS!” Simple yet so sinister. Looks harmless yet so hurtful. While words carry the power to heal, it also carries the power to harm and the truth is that hurting words seem to outnumber healing words everywhere you go. Words may even go unnoticed and it operates covertly. “I’m sorry but don’t love you anymore…” Oh that really hurts and penetrates deep into the recesses of the soul. And the deterioration accelerates at this point. Some people add a lot more chili into the enchilada by saying: “I don’t love you anymore and I am not sure I ever did.” “I’m leaving you. I need more space.” Sounds like the words come straight out of a soap opera series but this scene does happen. Now what do you do? Get a lawyer, go to a counselor? Pack up your things and go to your mother?
Consider this scene in your mind. You’re in a mall. Your child wants something and you are not willing to buy him. He goes into a tantrum. He shouts, he screams and for those who are undisciplined even tried to hit his mother. Does the mother hit him back? Does the mother puts him up for adoption? Does the mother sue her son? No. She ducks; she does nothing because she wants to make sure that she will not “reward” the tantrum and the behavior. The one principle she understands is that she will not be taking the tantrum personally because it’s not about her.
There are many men out there who would not admit it but they are actually in some kind of tantrum experiences. They look at the mirror and are shocked to see the lines and wrinkles on his face. The gray hair comes, some hair disappear. The energy level is no longer high and the younger, tech savvy arrogant kids are threatening to take over his job. His career has reached a plateau. His personal trajectory is no longer arcing upward and it’s more like a flat line on a heart monitor. This gets to even the best of them. “I don’t love you anymore. I’m not sure I ever did.” “I want more space.” Sometimes these are not serious words. These are merely tantrum words. So how should you respond? Cry? Weep? Go into a tantrum yourself and recite a litany of the sacrifices you’ve made through the years? But these would have been predictable. Maybe what you need to do is to make sure you are calm, controlled and composed and say: “I don’t believe you.” This is wise and deep. Because whether he means it or not you may not be able to change his mind. What you can do is to control your responses. “You’re no longer the same woman I used to know.” Wow! That may pack a mean punch. But what you need to decide is, “Is this relationship big enough and important enough to fight for?” Maybe this next line would carry the weight of a potential counter punch. “I don’t know how and what you feel at the moment but it will not be powerful enough to stop me from continuing to love you and support you.” And then you give him space. Give him time to figure things out. There are many men out there who are having mid-life tantrums. These advices may not work all the time but you are still responsible for living your life well and doing your best to care for your family. But the one thing I know works best. Pray. Pray that God would use this opportunity to bring the two of you to a personal relationship with Christ in a more intimate way. Do not let tantrum words destroy what God has put together. Erma Bombeck says: “Marriage has no guarantees. If that’s what you’re looking for, go live with a car battery.”
Don’t just assume your marriage will work. Work on your marriage every day. You don’t just grow your business, you grow in your marriage relationship as well.