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Christian Counseling - Marital Ennui

"Love Will Keep Us Together." In the early 70's Neil Sedaka wrote and released this song. Shortly thereafter Captain and Tennille made it a hit. "Young and beautiful, someday your looks will be gone. When the others are turning you off who'll be turning you on? I will, I will, I will, I will be there to share forever. Love will keep us together." This lifelong commitment is a part of almost every vow couples make to each other. But for Christians and otherwise, about one-half fail to keep it.

The love that is popularized in songs and is a must for most couples considering marriage is the romantic kind; the feeling of affection. This early love is glorious, necessary and bonds people, but the power of its passion is unstable and doesn't last. In a previously blog I mentioned after 17 months or so oxytocin ("love hormone") is on the wane. The world, including many Christians, views this feeling love to be the most important ingredient for a happy, stable marriage. In one way, it is surprising that many Christians hold this view because they are taught agape love (a Greek word referring to a logical decision process, not related to feelings) is the highest form of love. It is this kind of love which committed God to Israel and moved Jesus to come to earth. We have control over this type of love, but we don't have control over the feelings of love.

It is seriously problematic that many Christians are seduced by society into believing as long as you have "feel good" love that your partner is a keeper, but if it fails, it is OK to play the field again. Facing the reality of how truly difficult it is to make a marital relationship work is a shock and intolerable to quite a few.

God doesn't want people to be maritally committed only because it's His law, while ignoring feelings. He doesn't want any couple to be greatly unhappy for the rest of their lives because of a troubled marriage. He wants people to see themselves in light of whatever relationship they are in; to change who they are; to become more Christlike; to set relational boundaries and not tolerate their partner's poor behavior that can destroy the "goodness" of a marriage relationship.

When people see themselves in the raw they most often realize that it's not only their partner they are having trouble with and feel unhappy about, but it's also their own troubled world of feelings and faulty thought patterns. Couple those with a history of unmet, premarital needs and family-of-origin emotional pain that is expected to be met or healed by their marriage and disaster awaits. These unrealistically burden a marriage and puts it's life in jeapordy.

Some couples need to end their relationship; that is, they need to end the way it is and not necessarily end it by way of divorce. (Of course, God makes provision for divorce, but that is another subject for another time.) Seek to end the unhealthy parts of marriage by doing everything you can and availing yourself of all resources, then see what troubles remain, and what final decision you want to make. Perhaps, as others, you will find loving feelings buried underneath your grief, disappointment and anger.

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