Leave and Cleave — Wilderness walking, rooftop sitting and leaky faucets

We’re at camp this week with the boys so I’m sharing some posts on marriage.
So there might be a few “ouch” moments with this post. There were for me while I was writing it. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

The Bible makes it very clear what it’s like for our spouses to live with someone (specifically a woman) who is contentious.

It is better to live in a desert land Than with a contentious and vexing woman.

It is better to live in a corner of the roof Than in a house shared with a contentious woman.

A constant dripping on a day of steady rain And a contentious woman are alike;


Ouch.

The definition of contention is a struggling together in opposition.

It is so tempting and so easy to be contentious in a marriage. When we were first married, contention came easy to me. I have a strong personality and I like to get my way. Really, I don’t know of anyone who doesn’t like to get their own way. And when we don’t, we pout, we make sure everyone around us knows that we’re not happy with the way things are. Especially our spouse. We will struggle in opposition until we get our way or we give up, or they do.

Marriage isn’t about getting our way, but it’s about working together to accomplish common goals. And sometimes that common goal is just to survive the day without yelling.

Being contentious is like being a little kid. We throw a temper tantrum every time we don’t get our way, every time we struggle in opposition of our spouse. Think 2 year old pitching himself on the floor kicking and screaming, that’s you being contentious. (If you don’t have kids yet, I have a 2 year old I can loan you for an hour so you get the idea).

Ouch again.

Wives, I’ve got to tell you, if you’re being contentious to your husband it’s like piling bricks on his back. It makes him shut off. He’s afraid to tell you anything, he’s afraid to be open with you. He’s afraid you’ll use it against him later, when it’s time for another tantrum.

Double ouch.

The Bible says it’s better for him to walk in the wilderness than be with a contentious woman. It’s better for him to live on the corner of the roof than share a house with you. You’re like a dripping faucet. Drip drip drip. Brick brick brick.

So how do we keep from being contentious?

1. Be realistic with your expectations. I’ve said it before and I’m going to say it again…Contrary to what you see on TV, men can’t read minds. You have to tell him what you want and need. But at the same time don’t expect him to rescue you from everything either. Additionally, I don’t know many guys who come into a marriage with an unending supply of money. One of the biggest areas of contention when we were first married was that I wanted to live at the same level I had been when I was living at home. I didn’t want to have “hand me down” furniture, a small house or a beater of a car. I was delighted when we were able to buy the farm I grew up on, but was upset when Kerry wasn’t making enough money for me to stay home full time and make the payments. I was contentious. But my expectations weren’t realistic. I put brick after brick on his back with my constant complaining and whining about all the stuff I wanted but wasn’t getting.

2. Pray for your spouse daily. Ask God to help show you how you can remove bricks from your husband. God will show you where you can help him and how you can be a soothing balm of joy and contentment for him.

3. Don’t compare yourself or your marriage to anyone elses. Our society has taught us to “keep up with the Joneses” We need a bigger better car, house, new furniture or clothes to compete. Build a relationship with each other instead. Be willing to live with a little less so you can love a little more.

4. Be content. I mean really…be content. 1 Timothy 6:6 says “But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment.” Be thankful for what you have and what you’ve been given. Don’t constantly be asking, begging or whining for more when your spouse is already working hard to make ends meet. I learned to be content over time. It took longer than Kerry probably would have liked. I have learned to be content with the beater car (actually we call it a hoopty bus), and the second hand furniture (we have a white fur couch that was in Kerry’s grandma’s house) and a smaller house. There are still things I desire. I long to be home full time and I long to live in the country. Kerry knows the desires of my heart and although I talk about the from time to time, I don’t nag him, I don’t throw a fit and I don’t stack bricks. I am content for the time being. Some days it takes more effort than I’d like to admit to not remind him, but I know he’s working hard and if he could give me those things he would.

5. Quit nagging. You may have picked up on this one already, but it bears repeating. Don’t bring up that “stuff” you want or the things that drive you nuts over and over again. And especially don’t bring it up in front of others and make your husband feel inadequate in front of them. Don’t even joke about it. For example, I would bring up things that I wanted or thought I needed in front of Kerry’s family and my family when we were first married. I’d say things like “well I’d really like…but Kerry keeps telling me no.” (can you say temper tantrum?) I’d remind him every chance I got. Drip drip drip. My nagging didn’t make him want to work any harder to give me what I was asking or wanted. (Although it did make him want to go to work…just to get away from my nagging) He knew that there would be another request right behind it. It didn’t make him delight in my presence and our home wasn’t a peaceful place to be.

I’ve done a lot of growing in the 10 years we’ve been married. It’s by the grace of God that we have made it this far. We’ve both learned things about communication and living together without someone feeling like the faucet is leaking again

I challenge you this week, if there is something you’ve been contentious about…drop it. Don’t say anything about it this week. Don’t dig at your spouse with the things you’re not getting. Praise him for the things he does give you and the things he provides. If he wipes the table after dinner, thank him…don’t remind him that you want a bigger table. If he fills the car up with gas for you, praise him…don’t remind him about how the neighbors just got a new car. When he gets paid this week, appreciate him for the fact that he’s working for your family. Don’t nag him to talk to his boss for a raise or to change jobs because then he’d bring home so much more money.

You get the idea…Don’t make him wish he lived on the roof or in the wilderness.

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