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Protect the Gift
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Marriage is a precious gift from a gracious God. Yet we humans are prone to treat this gift carelessly.

One sure way to make yourself miserable and undermine this gift from God is to dwell on the past. Especially if your reveries tend toward the “what if” or “if only,” you can count on a creeping discontent in your marriage that will sabotage any chance for happiness.

During difficult stretches of marriage it is tempting to reflect on past relationships and think about how much happier life might be with some person other than your spouse. Our minds possess the capability to imagine an idyllic scenario of happiness if only we had married this person or that person. We envision a completely different outcome and our problems are magically gone in those unhealthy reveries. Unfortunately, these dysfunctional thought patterns hold power to take us down roads that lead to emotional or sexual unfaithfulness. In the end those supposed idyllic scenarios, played out in our minds, rarely come true.

In a poem by John Greenleaf Whittier called “Maud Muller,” the author describes two people who meet – one from high society and one from a poor farm family. They look at each other, wondering what life with that person would be like and envision it as something better than what they currently experience. Both go on to marry from their own social standing and years later look back with longing for what might have been. The unfulfilled dreams of youth are gone, but that doesn’t keep them from romanticizing the past.

Telling Words

Ending the poem, Whittier writes these telling words:

God pity them both! And pity us all,
Who vainly the dreams of youth recall;
For of all sad words of tongue or pen,
The saddest are these: “It might have been!”

What unfulfilled dreams of your past are undermining your contentment? Are those “sad words of tongue or pen” sabotaging your happiness?

Rather than allowing your mind to dwell on the “if only” scenarios, trust God with the present circumstances of your life. Remind yourself of the qualities that drew you to your spouse and focus your attention on what is good and right about your marriage. Rather than dwelling on the negatives, choose to focus on the positives. Daily give yourself, your spouse and your marriage to God.

Yes, we make mistakes. Sometimes we do look back with regret on our decisions. However, the good news is that God can redeem any situation. His words in Romans 8:28 are a reminder of the power He has to bring good out of bad: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him…”

All situations, all marriages, all difficult family relationships can be transformed by our all-powerful God. Nothing is too hard for Him; after all, He created marriage! So don’t waste your time or emotional energy living in the past. Protect your marriage by focusing on God’s power to redeem any situation.

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By Nancy Gerard. Copyright © 2014 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture taken from the NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®.

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