A friend was surprised by my reply when he said that he and his wife were incompatible.
“Of course you are!” I said. “Apart from a miracle by God, men and women are inherently incompatible.”
“Hmmm… a miracle from God?” he wondered aloud.
Then I told this friend the result of my informal study on the subject. “Based on personal observations and lots of statistics, there aren’t nearly enough couples who ever receive that miracle from God,” I opined.
I recounted a conversation I’d overheard between two men, one divorced and the other married.
The divorced man was complaining about his lonely lot in life, all caused by the fact that his wife had left him for another man. Although he apparently thought he would get some sympathy from his married friend, that’s not at all how the conversation went.
“Don’t you realize, there are MILLIONS of men who would gladly trade places with you?!” the married friend told him.
So sad, but so true. Not only are many people unhappily divorced, but there are also countless people who are unhappily married.
Remember what I said about needing a miracle from God in order to have a different outcome than this?
When I look at what the Bible says about this difficult subject, here’s what I conclude: God made men and women inherently different, but not inherently incompatible. The incompatibility didn’t begin until sin and selfishness entered the equation in Genesis 3.
You know the story. Eve was deceived by the serpent into disobeying God and tasting the forbidden fruit, but Adam apparently did so quite intentionally. Why? My guess is that he didn’t want to be separated from Eve, the wife he dearly loved.
But here’s where the story gets quite ironic. By disobeying God in order to be with his wife, Adam created an ongoing state of friction (incompatibility) within the marital bond.
We see this when the Lord confronted Adam about his disobedience. Instead of immediately repenting and accepting responsibility, Adam chose to throw Eve under the bus, blaming her for his decision: “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate” (Genesis 3:12). And notice that Adam found a way to blame the Lord as well…
By choosing to embrace the woman instead of obeying God, Adam unwittingly created a barrier to his relationship with both. Apart from a miracle, there would never be harmony again between men and women, or between humankind and God.
But thank God for His miracles! Through the cross of His Son Jesus, He broke down the wall of separation and alienation, making it possible for us to freely enter His presence.
That same cross solves the incompatibility between men and women. You see, the only hope for marital bliss is for the partners to die to themselves. Like Jesus, they must set aside their own interests and lay down their lives for each other.
The good news is that God makes this miracle readily available to those who will embrace the cross. Yes, it ultimately takes TWO to have a happy marriage, but it always starts with ONE. Someone has to take the first step, trusting God to work His miracles in their partner’s heart as well.
Are you willing to go first? You never know whether a miracle might come, replacing incompatibility with harmony, and maybe even some bliss.
Great article, Jim. Every couple needs ongoing, daily miracles to survive.
Interesting article Jim. I woke up thinking about blatant selfishness I experienced from two women this weekend. Then I remembered an African proverb shared by Walter Trobisch, one of my favorite little known Christian authors. It says, “Man is hurtin’ but woman don’t know it.” Known for his uncommon honesty and non-preachiness, Trobisch also said after 40 years of marriage he finally felt ready to be a husband. He also observed that marriage starts our 90% hell and 10% heaven then if you stay married long enough it turns into 10% hell and 90% heaven. OF course he would have agreed that both parties need to self-mortify if that’s to happen. And there’s the rub. A friend of mine takes in foreign students for a year in the US, all girls ‘cuz he has daughters. Girls from Asia, Latin countries and all over Europe are amazed by my friend simply because he often does the dishes and vacuums. In their countries men would never do that. They tell him American women don’t respect their men. And they are right. Adam abdicated his responsibility to restore Eve. So do most men. We allow ourselves to be controlled by women because it’s easier than the guff we take if we dare to lead. Then we wonder why they hate us. Real women crave strong yet gentle leadership. Real churches help younger men and women learn how to be husbands and wives. False churches capitulate to cultural norms and refuse to rock the gender boat. Then they act surprised when marriages fail and often shun pastors who get divorced. Relationships are complicated, but without a biblical model for roles they are doomed to failure, or worse, silent sufffering. Too many churches are afraid to have this discussion, so we wear a happy face and act like everything’s fine. For my part, I’m searching for a Christian women from another culture who hasn’t been in the US for too long. I’ll let you know how that turns out.
Thank you, thank you, thank you!