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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Taming the "Me-Monster"

I’ve been writing about the dramatic rise in the number of divorces of people over 50, referred to as Gray Divorce.  You might want to go back and read my introductory post explaining the statistics behind the phenomena.

I knew I would evoke some negative responses by writing about a painful topic like divorce. I have received several comments and emails from some hurting divorced individuals who either felt accused by my statements or who claimed that the things I am proposing don’t work – or at least didn’t work for them.

Before I start on another suggested cause and remedy for gray divorce, I want to reiterate here that this is not meant to be an accusation against those who find themselves divorced.  I also want to make it clear that while I strongly believe the principles I describe to be right and true, they offer no guarantee, because a marriage relationship involves people who are free to make choices. Some will choose poorly.

My last post was Part 1 of my suggested remedies for the gray divorce epidemic. In it I explained that one of the forces working against long-lasting marriages is the notion that has emerged with the baby boomer generation, also known as the “me generation,” that the purpose of marriage is essentially our own personal happiness.  If this were true, then our marriages can be sustained only as long as our fickle and fleeting feelings are maintained.  Instead, I say, let’s look at marriage as a covenant, about something higher than ourselves and our own happiness. Let’s also make a decision to find happiness inside ourselves and in God.

(For a little further inspiration along that line, I suggest you read this post from Fawn at The Happy Wives Club, where she describes her discovery about the choice of happiness.) 
An Unhealthy Focus On Self

Today I’m focusing on a gray divorce issue that is closely related to the personal happiness issue from Part 1.  It is another paradigm that has grown immeasurably since the “me generation” began passing through mid-life. I describe this as an unhealthy preoccupation with “self.”

I recently wrote an article for Your Tango entitled, “Why After 30 Years of Marriage the Best is Yet to Come.” In that article I said this:
If you have a habit of holding your spouse responsible for your happiness, you definitely need to learn to take that responsibility upon yourself.  However, remember that if you view your marriage as being mostly about your rights and what you get out of the bargain, in the long run you are going to end up bitter and disappointed.

On the other hand, if you see your marriage primarily as an opportunity to selflessly love and generously serve your wife or husband to the best of your ability, you will the reap long-lasting benefit of a strong and close relationship.

Don’t buy the lie that a 50/50 marriage is ideal. Instead, go for 100/100, where each of you holds nothing back and gives all you have to the other.

Seeing Differently

Selfless love is the cornerstone of a surrendered marriage.  It causes us to ask different questions than we me be naturally inclined to ask:
  • Instead of asking, “What’s in it for me?” ask, “How can I bless you?” 
  • Instead of asking, “What are my rights?” ask, “What is the right thing?” 
  • Instead of asking, “What will advance my cause?” ask, “What will enhance my marriage?”
  • Instead of asking “What can I get?” ask, “What can I give?”
The Journey to Surrender is a journey into learning to live as one flesh. That means we have to let go of the battle for self and learn to press into the reality that because we are one, I win when my spouse wins. Blessing him or her actually blesses me! Taking such a one-flesh view of your marriage will totally change to way you see your spouse and your relationship. 

Take the Risk

This thing of selfless love is risky business. There is no guarantee that your spouse will respond in kind. While selfless love is a compelling force for intimacy and passion, not everyone will respond to it. Remember, people are free to make their own choices; you can only control you. 

Yet this is the kind of love we were shown by Jesus and the kind of love we are compelled to show to our spouses.  He took the risk. He gave everything for us, for the sake of intimacy with us, knowing that many would reject his sacrifice and continue to live for themselves.  He did it anyway. 

So I urge you to step back and consider the reckless, selfless, sacrificial love of Christ. Rather than buying into the lies exemplified and extolled by the “me generation,” take the risk to love like Jesus does. It’s worth the risk.
photo credit:

Just came across this great and fitting post from Jolene at The Alabaster Jar.  "The #1 Secret to a Great Marriage."  Her answer: Die to Self. Check it out!

Next and last post in this series:  Divorce Remedies Part 3:  Getting Your Priorities Right


Unknown said...

Wonderful post, Scott, and thank you for sharing God's Truth!

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