This blog has been quiet for a little while. When it was established, I spilled my initial thoughts, reflexes and revelations in the fallout of my affair. Now, it's time for a change of seasons... I will be writing on the hereafter, so to speak. I will be pressing forward into the second phase of this long healing journey. I will also be exploring multiple mediums for this blog -- I will be posting video entries, songs, and anything else that comes to mind. So let's begin.
I have observed a common thread interwoven throughout all of the tales of frustration and struggle that I've heard over the past few months. Not all marital issues are equal in scope or severity. I believe that the first step to resolving any conflict, whether big or small, is identifying it for what it truly is. I'm no psychologist, but it seems to me that most marital problems fall into one of the following three categories:
1) Daily Frustrations. Living with another human being is difficult. This is true if your cohabitant is your college buddy or the love of your life. The difference is that how we serve our spouses in the grind of daily living can reflect upon our marriage as a whole. Frustrations will come, and it is the offender who must discern whether or not each issue warrants confronting. Daily frustrations can also become a battleground for the next category of marital strife...
2) Critical Conflicts. There are some issues where spouses can agree to disagree. This is not that kind of issue. Critical conflicts are problems that, if unaddressed, will turn toxic inside your relationship, guaranteed. This can be baggage from previous relationships, infidelity, substance issues or a variety of other difficulties. Critical conflicts also manifest themselves through small problems. If you've had an argument about a chore or daily life issue that seemed much bigger than the situation called for, these critical issues may be rearing their head. One way or another, critical conflicts will escape as pressure builds within.
3) Systemic Illness. These are not issues, per se, but presuppositions we carry about our spouses that can spoil our lives with them. When we begin to see our partner as an enemy, a combatant or alien, the illness has taken hold of our heart's perceptions. These issues, left unattended, will only bring destruction. Systemic illnesses are bigger than individual conflicts. They are a collection of misshapen and warped thoughts, growing out of control as time passes by. The tendrils of systemic illness will impact so many aspects of daily life, from small interactions with your spouse to major life decisions. Dealing with these runaway assumptions should not be delayed.
As I stated before, I have learned through my own folly that identifying the issue is critical to resolving it. Perhaps you are dealing with daily frustrations, and grace can soothe the abrasion of shared life. If you find yourself wrestling with the other two types of marital distress, I implore you to seek God in prayer, search His word, and consider reaching out for help to a pastor, friend or family member. Your marriage is worth the effort.