In going through some memorabilia, she found an old article from a Chicago newspaper that her grandmother had given her years before. I can't find the date on it but it appears to originate somewhere around the mid 1930's. The article is about a famous divorce judge and the problems he sees in marriages that come before his bench. Here's what caught my attention, though. The article closes with rules for marital happiness that he learned after trying over 40,000 divorce cases in a 23 year period. I offer them to you today.
- Have patience with each other.
- Work together, play together, grow up together.
- In all disputes, avoid hot and excited talk.
- Do not conceal little differences until they accumulate to the breaking point. Discuss them calmly.
- Be frank with each other.
- Sympathy and mutual understanding are the pillars of the home.
- Good humor in parting in the morning and a cheerful greeting at night.
- Share responsibilities.
- Establish a home of your own.
- Make your bed time prayers a review of the day and never go to sleep without a clean slate, leaving no leftovers for the next day.
My, how far we have come. Good words from what appeared to be a good man. I offer them to you because I know so many of you. Your marriages are crumbling. Your relationships are anemic. You carry around check lists of wrongs done to you by your mate and you are unwilling to forgive.
I thought about this list last evening as I sat in a meeting for a counseling ministry that I have the privilege of serving on the board for. I thought about the hundreds of couples he sees every year (I see dozens myself). I thought about the trivial things that bring marriages to an end too easily. Selfishness. Immaturity. Stupid little things that could be easily forgiven but we prefer to hold a grudge. Impatience. Restlessness. Lack of honesty.
None of this is what God desires for the most intimate of human relationships. God desires...well, you know what He desires. He shows you every day in the way that He loves His Bride--the Church. In fact, the words Paul shares with us in Ephesians say this:
25-28 Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church—a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ's love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness. And that is how husbands ought to love their wives. They're really doing themselves a favor—since they're already "one" in marriage. Ephesians 5:25-28 The Message
Guys, let's do what's right and go all out for our wives. Let's love them like they deserve and, even when we think they don't deserve it, let's strive to make them whole and beautiful and holy. Frankly, I get overwhelmed by the counseling needs I see (and for my friend as well). I wonder how much that would change if we took our commitments more seriously and made our marriages the priority they should be. In my mind, at least one judge got it right.