The goal in a home

M ARRIED? Thinking of getting married? How well do you fight? I’ve been thinking about this for a while, but particularly because of various people I have met in the last few days. Perhaps it’s just me, but marriages seem to be in trouble.

marriageI’m no expert on the subject of marriage. In July, Tam and I will have been married seven years. Hardly a PhD qualification. But seven years in, I’ve thought about one question the most… how well do we fight?

I remember, in my post-grad years of psychology, one of our lecturers saying “the measure of how healthy a family is can be measured by how well they fight”.

I should have probed him more on it. It might have clarified a few things in my own mind with regard to marriage. Did he mean never raising your voice? Or on the other extreme, was he talking about slamming doors and traumatized pets?

Three days ago, I met a man. Off the cuff, he told three of us in the room he was going through a divorce. We chatted a bit and prayed for him. I was unsettled by it, perhaps because I’ve realised in recent times that you don’t have to look far to notice the problems in marriages.

In 2010, there were 22 936 recorded divorces in our nation. It fluctuates from year to year, but it’s often in the tens of thousands. That tells me that as a nation, we don’t fight very well.

In the past year, I’ve become friends with a gentleman who lives down the road. He’s a groundsman. He’s helped me on a number of occasions, and refuses to accept payment or compensation. However, on one occasion I took him a bag of biltong to say thanks for something he helped me with.

He’s a happily married man and father to two boys.

“If your household is anything like mine, you might wanna sneak a few strips before you get home!” I joked with him.

He chuckled, but he didn’t hesitate in replying… and he humbled me with these words:

“It’s okay. After all, if they’re all happy – I’m happy.”

In his quiet way, he spoke more powerfully to me than anyone else has ever spoken to me on being a husband and a father.

I get it wrong often. I’m working on it. My goal for my home is peace, joy and love. Call it cliched, but I need it that way to live a better life. I’ll always try to be the first to say sorry… not because I’m holier than my wife or because I wimp out of a fight. On the contrary, the goal is peace… and if we’ve botched it in our home, it’s because I haven’t been a peacemaker.

Those moments take courage, and your pride may take a serious dent. Both are good for the soul, and good for the home.

I’m praying for more grace on our nation in this area. Healthy marriages are good for everything.

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