Saturday, November 11, 2017

Old-Fashioned Marriage (Part 1: Patience)

It seems frequently I feel just appalled at the state of the western world. I read news articles, glimpse links on social media, hear some story of teenagers today, and I think - how long, O Lord? I know that is a rather dire start to a post, but I really sometimes can't believe how "liberated" our society think we are. All I can see is sadness, chaos, brokenness, pain, and a warped way of living.

I just took up reading Homemaking by J R Miller. I have seen it recommended for years on blogs I respect that honour marriage and motherhood, but have never got round to reading it. But I finally have, and it is a breath of fresh, wholesome air. And one can never have enough wholesomeness.

What would today's society believe makes a successful marriage (for a few years)? Off the top of my head, probably: passion, attractiveness, physical spiciness, common interests, being in love. Now, those factors are definitely needed to make a successful marriage. But they are not the basis for one that lasts a lifetime, nor are they what made marriages through the centuries endure to the end.

In 1882, J R Miller suggested one habit that makes a successful marriage:
"So when two independent lives, with diverse habits, tastes and peculiarities first meet, to be united in one, there is embarrassment, there is perplexity, there is seeming conflict, there is the dashing of life against life at many points. Sometimes it may seem as if they never could blend in one and as if the conflict must go on hopelessly forever; but with loving patience, the two will in due time coalesce and unite in one life - nobler, stronger, fuller, deeper, richer - and move on in calmness and peace." p.20

 In our "on demand" and "instant replay" world, we have no concept of patience. Old-fashioned terms like forbearance, fortitude, endurability, constancy, and temperance probably make people think, "Huh? What about what I want? How about how my spouse's behaviour encroaches on me?" Instead, why don't we think, "How can I patiently love my spouse through this trial?"
"Perfect harmony cannot be forced in a day -cannot be forced at all - but must come through gentleness and perhaps only after many days. There must be mutual adaptation, and time must be allowed for this."
It will take many days. Not three years. But years upon years upon years. It will require loving patience and forbearance. It will take forgiveness, forgetting, letting go, placing things at the foot of the Cross, and giving things to God to deal with. It will require the man to take responsibility they naturally don't want to uphold. And it will require wives to step back and relinquish the control they naturally want to take.
"The present duty is unselfish love. Each must forget self in devotion to the other. Each must blame self and not the other when when anything goes wrong. There must be the largest and gentlest forbearance. Impatience may wreck all. A sharp word may retard for months the process of soul-blending."
And what will happen if two sinners keep at it with Jesus at the centre?
"There must be determination on the part of both to make the marriage happy and to conquer everything that lies in the way. Then the very differences between the two lives will become their closest points of union. When they have passed through the process of blending, though it may for the time be painful and perilous, the result will be a wedded life of deep peace, quiet joy and inseparable affection."
I so wish more people today would hear such messages. How much confusion and pain and brokenness could be avoided - or worked through - if people were taught the character of true patience, forbearance, and love for someone more than self?  And if you are struggling right now, please read again the wise counsel of J R Miller. Be encouraged and challenged toward godly patience.

*Linked to The Charm of Home


  1. I couldn't agree more. What is touted for marriage today is a recipe for disaster. It has to be centered in Christ. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

    1. Thank you! And yes, absolutely centred in Christ. In New Zealand, we don't celebrate Thanksgiving - but I hope and pray you have a wonderful day, full of joy in the Lord. Bless you!