– Feature Guest Post by Stephen Miller –
As a child sitting in front of the T.V. and watching one of my favorite cartoons, “G.I. Joe”, I would play with the action figures and get absorbed in the story line when finally the episode would come to a close and one or two of the characters of the show would give a situation kids should be aware of, how to stay safe, then they would end with “knowing is half the battle!”. I think we need PSA’s (Public Service Announcement) at the end of every sitcom in America, at the end of Everyone Loves Raymond, Raymond and Debra would step into center screen, look into the camera and say, Imagine for a moment you did live right across the street from your in-laws and they invaded your space constantly, this is how you stay safe in that situation and protect your marriage, remember “knowing is half the battle!”.
Or can you imagine an episode of Malcolm in the Middle, where Lois somberly walks to the front of the set, looks into the camera, and says “If you really have five boys who constantly destroy the house and get into trouble, this is what you should do to protect your relationship. “Knowing is half the battle!” Of course, there are ways these public service announcements can get ingrained in us without the help of Hollywood or paid actors, it’s called reading the Bible. “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart! I have overcome the world.” Jesus. When all looks bleak, “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loves the Church, and wives see to it that you respect your husbands”, Apostle Paul~. Remember knowing is half the battle!
Here’s a PSA for you as well, come close to the screen, are you paying attention? A great marriage takes work………… Phew! I’m glad I got that off my chest. I might have just busted your bubble or you may have just said, “Yeah Steve, tell me something I didn’t know”. Ok, here you go, you will have phases in marriage that take you through times of growth, times of rest and times of trials. Every marriage deals with these phases, some more than others and some more extreme than others. It’s knowing and recognizing what stage you’re in and when to leave it that encompasses half the battle.
Here are three phases every marriage goes through at one time or another.
Imagine for a moment walking down a lush green trail, with a breeze gently blowing through, its 74 degrees and the weather is perfect with zero humidity. You step out of the canopy to take in a breathtaking view of a private beach, you walk down and step into the perfectly cool water and brush your fingers through the waves. Dolphins jump in the distance and the water is so blue it looks surreal. This is your marriage when all is well, you’re at rest. Life is on hold and the business of our lives is a faded memory. This is probably how it felt when you first fell in love. Nothing would ever be greater than being married to your best friend.
Upside– It’s a time of peace, tranquility and rest, it restores and refreshes us.
Downside– Nothing gets done here in regular life, if you stay at the beach, life can’t keep moving, Its much needed and you should visit regularly, but you can’t live there.
THE WHITE ROOM
The White Room seems kind of boring at first. Its monotonous, plain walls, work, home, dinner sleep, work, home dinner, church, sleep. Feed the kids, pick up the kids, clean the kids, mow the grass, do the laundry. This is the phase most marriages spend the most amount of time. Life gets done, but you long for the beach. You look forward to the beach. Sometimes you grab your partners hand and step into the beach for just a few moments in between chores, which is what keeps you going. You may not be completely at peace, and you may have to deal with obstacles that arise, challenges you face, but the White Room works as long as you do it together.
Upside– Life gets done, you grow, move forward, learn lessons, teach lessons and you make progress. You work as a team.
Downside– Life can exist here for long periods of time, but every now and then you need the beach. You need a break, you need rest. If you don’t, you can easily slip backwards into a much darker place.
THE DARK ALLEY
This is the phase of marriage that no one ever plans for. You don’t end up here on purpose and most of the time it’s because of a few wrong turns or bad decisions. There is little to no light. You remember the White Room and its monotony, but you have no recollections of the beach. It’s as if it never existed. It smells terrible and the other people here are struggling as well, no one is happy and everyone is fighting for their life. There’s nothing getting done, because the pain is intense and you are shutting down. You don’t want to, but you keep thinking that maybe all you need to do is stop walking and sit in this filth, lean against the wall and stop struggling and just let the alley consume you. The monotonous of the White Room calls, but you can’t see the beauty of it or the reason for it.
Upside– You realize you need Jesus. You can’t do this life on your own and you can’t just tap into your own strengths. You learn to appreciate the White Room, you take hard learned lessons back with you, as long as you make it out.
Downside– This is enemy territory. The enemy constantly barrages your thoughts and your emotions are running wild. There’s probably sin involved on one side or the other and without repentance and restoration, you aren’t going to make it. It’s a dangerous place. And if divorce is mentioned, you need to read this.
Take a moment and evaluate your marriage, where are you currently residing? What steps do you need to take to get back to the level needed?
Stephen Miller is a Family Life Pastor at Crystal River Church of God, an ordained minister in the Church of God, the Men’s Ministry leader of Warriors with a Covenant and a Married Life Small group marriage ministry leader. Steve and his wife Jessica present regularly for the Marriage Restored Conference. You can read more of his work at Marriage Encounter and read his book “Fight for Her! A Marriage in Crisis and God’s Intervention.”