What if Christians defied the odds? What if all that was said by the academicians and the professional marketers and behaviorial predictors was dead wrong when it came to the body of Christ? What if God’s people didn’t look so “normal”?
According to data from the American Psychological Association, after having a baby, 67 percent of couples see their marital satisfaction plummet. [Read More: http://www.apa.org/monitor/2011/10/babies.aspx]
My research focus when I was doing graduate work in mental health was marital satisfaction. Across the board, in study after study on marriage and family health, a finding was always the same. In both unstable and stable marriages, marital satisfaction decreased when a child was added to the family. With each subsequent birth, the dive into dissatisfaction continued to plummet. Until it stopped. And then relief from this unhappy marriage showed up on the research graph. When did that occur? When the last child was out of the home. Of course, the marriage had to survive the child-raising years. And many did not.
Is it such the norm, all within range of the standard deviation of the studies, that when wives and husbands are just doing what comes naturally, it’s a formula for failure? Yes it is. According to the facts, having a baby for almost all married couples is also the gloom, and sometimes the doom, of their marriages.
Ellen Walker, PhD., in an article in Psychology Today states, “Intuitively, it seems that children would bring a ray of sunshine to a home. Likewise, a couple that is drifting apart or lacking for conversation at the dinner table could bring new energy to their marriage with the addition of a bundle of joy. The reality, however, is that this does not usually happen.”[Read more. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/complete-without-kids/201103/fact-or-fiction-childfree-couples-are-happier-couples-kids
And still, most married men and women do want children. If asked (and many couples have been studied) husbands and wives do not choose to remain childless just to move their numbers up on the happiness scale. As seen by the frequency of and the enormous efforts and costs of infertility treatments, couples do not forgo children just to spare the expensive toll a baby will inevitable take on their marriage.
But if having a baby makes couples so unhappy is this a foregone, predestined situation that even Christians must endure?
What if Christians defied the odds? What if all that was said by the academicians and the professional marketers and predictors were wrong when it came to the body of Christ?
Doesn’t the Bible say this? “Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from him. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them!” (Psalm 127:3-5)
Shouldn’t one of our tasks on this earth as God’s people be to show the world, in its unglorified, uninformed, un-spiritual self, how to do this marriage and family thing?
Can we be different?
And why shouldn’t we take this on? What can’t this be OUR battle for God?
Jesus people have been kicking against the walls of conformity since John the Baptist ate locusts and wore a furry toga. Shouldn’t this be an area where we choose non-conformity and – surprise the researchers? If any people should get family right shouldn’t it be the Family of God? We are created in the image of our Abba-Father-God. We have all the tools in our spiritual DNA to make this thing right. Right?!
Why is it so difficult then?
Well, our human stuff keeps showing up, doesn’t it? That humanity thing messes up our spiritual thing all of the time.
Our God-created personality messes with us. Think about the impulsive, passionate, unfiltered Apostle Peter. Did God have his work cut out with that crazy guy! Personality differences factor into our marriage relationships. So, yes! We have to acknowledge the Type A, hard-driving, confident guy has to shift his relationship style to merge life with his quiet, contented, gentle wife. And when we don’t merge well, as Genesis deemed us to do- “Becoming One” – regardless of who’s in our home, one baby or none, we are going to have problems.
Let’s go ahead and invite that family of origin (FO) Elephant into the room. What my parents did does affect you. Sorry but I can’t help it if my Dad was perfect. And you’re not. Uh oh. Your Mom was perfect too. Yep, we’re going to have problems. Merging two upbringings is a life-long work. A process which will only make progress when two people admit their differences, acknowledge that it is okay to be different and let’s move on. So we can build together what OUR family looks like. Could it be when God said, “A man shall leave his mother and father and cleave unto his wife“, he understood something about this FO situation?
Well, we can’t leave this conversation without talking about the kids, can we? I mean, THEY’RE the problem, anyway! If they would just sleep through the night, respect us and obey, be smart, do their homework, get along with each other. I mean seriously kids. Come on….
Yep, that’s not going to happen. They’re kids after all. They don’t know anything or know how to do anything when they burst into the bright lights of the delivery room. Mom and Dad, do you really have to teach them everything? Yep. That’s right from manners to math. It’s the job of the parents of that ignorant, screaming, misbehaving mess of poop to straighten them out. And also, according to God, to do it in the way of the Lord.
It’s a HARD job. It’s not for sissies. Or wimps. It’s only for the brave.
That is where all of this gets really sticky-icky.
Because, maybe that’s where we have blown it.
We have not been brave. We have not had the courage to stick up for our kids. To fight. For our husbands. For our wives. Oh, we’ve fought. Thinking the other was the enemy, we’ve fought.
If Christian people are going to defy the research. If we are going to be different.
If we are going to be the people of God who can help Him save the world.
We better get brave.
We better develop a way to do this marriage and family thing better.
We better get ready and fight.
And we’d better know who the fight is against. Or we will just keep on showing up as part of the marital satisfaction statistics.
As God’s people we are to be peculiar. In research circles, they are known as outliers. They are the people or situation that differs from the rest of the set. They are outside the “norm”.
What if Christians became the “outliers” of the culture?