You would think I'd have marriage figured out by now. My husband and I will soon celebrate our 24th wedding anniversary, just a year shy of silver. And that certainly seems like enough time to smooth most of the rough edges. Yet I'm discovering that the basic challenges of the marriage relationship are never really "figured out." We may grow in our understanding and relationship skills, but marriage is a living thing, an organism, a building under construction.
Threats to Marriage
And if marriage can be likened to a house being built, many relationships today don't have a chance. So many couples slap some sort of life together without bothering with the tradition of marriage and hardly considering the foundation of Jesus Christ. It's no wonder that the home is threatened in our culture.
Yet even those who have chosen to build their home God's way face difficulties—the temptation to indulge self and an innate dislike of serving the other. The Creator addressed these issues through the Apostle Paul's writings in Ephesians 5. Both husbands and wives are told to hold the other in great regard. Husbands are commanded to cherish their wives, and wives are commanded to respect their husbands. For both, this is an attitude that could be described as adoration, an elevated way of viewing the other.
The Hammer of Attitude
I have come to realize that my attitude as a wife is a powerful tool, one that can create beauty or havoc. Proverbs 14:1 says "The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down" (NIV).
To put this in building terms, every wife has a hammer in her hands: her attitude toward her husband. And how she chooses to use it will have an impact on the type of home she has.
A hammer can drive nails into boards, adding to the stability of a building, and it can remove nails that have been wrongly pounded in. When it's used to fasten pieces tightly, a hammer can help in the process of raising the walls of a home, making it solid and secure.
But a hammer can also be used to demolish a building. It can destroy what was once standing. It can repeatedly chip away at block walls. It can be used to bludgeon and inflict pain.
I confess that I've been guilty of using the hammer in negative ways. Sometimes, like a foolish woman, my attitude has been as brutal as a sledgehammer, and I've used it to clobber my husband—words, facial expressions, and body language, all a reflection of attitude. Maybe you've been there too. It's not always intentional. A disagreement goes south quickly or a simple irritation becomes an escalating issue. Or maybe over time a reluctance to forbear and forgive becomes resentment and finds expression in hurtful ways. And after the explosion, looking around at the debris, you feel tempted to drop the hammer for good, sign off on marriage.