Marriage Moment of Truth

Marriages start out on an exciting note, full of happy expectation. Yet some of those marriages end up on the trash heap. At some point from the engagement to the divorce something went wrong. Whatever the challenges are that lead to a failed marriage other marriages weather the storm and come through stronger.

So, along the way from the proposal to the decree nisi there is some telling moment or development that tips the scales from success to sabotage; from freedom to failure; and from celebration to shame. So, we’re looking for the Moment of Truth in Marriage, where that tipping point is encountered.

Tipping Point

The Moment of Truth is that point in the couple’s journey where they make a decision, balk at a hurdle, draw a line or otherwise change the course of their relationship. What started as delight became bogged down with disappointment. Strife replaced celebration and the couple began to move toward the death of their marriage.

Now, the tipping point is not the same for each couple. Some couples know that it is all over by the end of the honeymoon. Other couples work together for thirty-five years before ending their marriage. For some there is a major shock, such as unfaithfulness, that bombards the relationship. For others some subtle, slow process sets in that eats away at the union.

This makes it hard to come up with a simplistic “tipping point” definition.

Attitude Not Action

The tipping point, or Moment of Truth, when a relationship takes a turn toward its own destruction cannot be built on an action. Marriages have proven to be incredibly resilient. Marriages have survived and even flourished after such tragedies and traumas as abuse, violence, adultery, death of a child, financial ruin, war, betrayal, attempted suicide, mental breakdown, and more.

The tipping point, then, is not an action. Instead it is an attitude. The attitude may spring to life in response to an action, but it is wrong to blame the action. Others have endured the same treatment, circumstances, disappointment, stress and so on, without destroying their marriage. So it must be firmly stated that the problem is NOT the action.

However, when a wrong attitude comes into the picture it can be poisonous, impossible to endure and persistent to the point of total destruction. The tipping point is the point at which a wrong attitude takes root, setting the course toward ultimate ruin.

Biblical Warning

Since the Bible is supremely relevant and current, we should expect it to speak clearly to this issue, and it does. There is a serious warning given in the New Testament which is probably directly linked to the Moment of Truth, or Tipping Point in marriage.

The Biblical warning is that people MUST give grace to one another. Specifically they are to give each other the “grace of God”. That means that they are to forgive each other, accept each other and be considerate of each other, in the same way that God is gracious to all of humanity. God gives sunshine and rain to both the good people and evil people. God is gracious, even to people who are campaigning to prove that God does not exist.

Humans, then, are to be ever willing to tolerate and be gracious to each other, just as God is.

But the warning goes further than that. The Biblical warning is that if a person fails to provide God’s grace to others the only alternative is that the evil attitude of bitterness will spring up in their life and lead to all kinds of problems.

“Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled” Hebrews 12:14,15

Let me paraphrase that text for you this way: “Be at peace with everyone. And keep yourself holy. If you are not holy you will never see God. Be diligent to keep on giving God’s grace to people. If you don’t a root of bitterness will spring up within you and agitate you. A root of bitterness will make trouble for many people around you.”

Key Moment

The key moment in your marriage is not how or where you propose. It’s not how long your engagement is. It is not the wedding day, or the wedding night. It’s not the honeymoon. It’s not your first year, or your first home. It’s not based on how soon the kids come along, or how many you have or don’t have. It’s not about how much money you have or whether one, both or none of you work.

The key moment in any marriage is that moment when one or other of the couple decides to stop giving grace to the other. When one person makes the internal decision, “I’ve had enough of that”, “I’m not taking any more of this”, “I won’t forgive them this time”, or something like that, they have tipped the marriage into the path toward destruction.

It is possible for a couple to come close to that point several times, and still survive. If the person tips back, changing their mind and forgiving, extending grace, accepting the one they had decided to reject, then they can undo the damage that has been done. But when they come to that point and decide to stick on that track, that’s when the end has been determined.

The Grace of God

The most valuable ingredient you can bring into any relationship, then, is the grace of God. A couple which has determined to always forgive and extend grace to each other will be able to ride over the ups and downs of their relationship.

Remember that bitterness only springs up when someone has determined to stop giving God’s grace. As long as the graces of forgiveness, compassion, acceptance, sacrificial commitment and such like are poured into a marriage that marriage can weather any storm or strain.

When the attitude turns from one that gives grace to one that digs in with hardness of heart, bitterness takes root and poisons the mind, attitudes, decisions and relationships.

Remember, the problem is not the actions experienced, but the attitudes taken up in response to those things.

Moments of Grace

Protect your marriage with moments of grace. Tip your marriage toward success and indestructibility. Determine, with God’s help, to give grace to each other. Determine to continue extending grace, God’s grace, no matter what.

Instead of having Moments of Truth and Tipping Points that turn your marriage into dust, have Moments of Grace and multiple Turning Points which turn your marriage back to God’s grace and God’s miraculous provision for your happiness and success.

The Failed Wedding

It was the wedding of the year!


But when the couple split up five years later it was obvious that something must have gone wrong on the day. So, let’s see if we can find out what caused the failed wedding.

Money

Harriett was sure the problem was money. Her daddy had promised her a hundred million dollar wedding, but the media analysts calculate that the whole show only came to eighty million. So she felt cheated by him not giving her what she wanted.

That could have been the problem, right there. Not enough money was spent on the wedding, so it could hardly be expected to last.
What do you think?

Now, you might protest that even one million dollars is a fortune to expend on a wedding. And you would probably point to many successful weddings with very modest budgets, much less than this extravaganza, so maybe money wasn’t the real problem.

Festivities

Brandon wondered if it was the wedding program. He wanted the festivities to run for three weeks, like in the old country, but they cut short the festivities by two days, to fly off on their six month world honeymoon in time for the Grand Prix in Monte Carlo.

Maybe that was the problem. If they had stuck strictly to old village traditions they could have succeeded as a couple.

Yet, I hear you protest that hardly anyone follows old village traditions any more, but the marriages work out fine. So surely there is no demand for old village ways.

The Weather

Everyone remembers how the main ceremony was disrupted by rain. Cavalry and carriages were held up by storms then intermittent showers doused the crowds lining the streets. The bad weather may have spoiled the marriage.

But how could anyone argue such a thing? Many people are wed on rainy miserable days, with storms and windy interruptions. Yet the marriages survive and thrive.

The Gowns


There was much talk about the bride’s outfits. Harriett wore seven gowns during the various festivities: all hand crafted designer outfits from the world’s leading creators. Were they too ostentatious? Should she have stuck with one designer? Were the colour choices wrong? Were the wrong materials chosen?

Could a mistake in choice of wedding dress account for the failure of the marriage?
No. People have been wed in royal robes and others in rags, without any impact on the outcome. New dresses don’t have a better result than borrowed ones.

A Bad Hair Day

We shouldn’t forget the bride’s hair. On two occasions, dramatised by photos in the papers, Harriett had trouble with her hair. It repeatedly blew in her face at one point and her annoyance was ably captured by the paparazzi. Another time her hair looked like a loaf of bread from some well published angles, and it looked a silly sight.

A woman’s hair is her glory so maybe hair issues caused the breakdown of the marriage.
But, once again, we have multitudes of other marriages to compare. Hair disasters, bad hair-dressing, wind-blown hair and many similar troubles have occurred, without the slightest impact on the long-term relationship.

The Groomsmen

Brandon had insisted on only eight groomsmen, even though Harriett had a dozen bridesmaids. So maybe that caused a problem. More likely it was Brandon’s choice of Darnsworth. Brandon insisted on his inclusion, as an old friend. Many people, however, had never forgiven his father’s business failures. And his behaviour during the festivities was at times deplorable.
Surely these issues brought clouds over this otherwise blissful wedding.

But then again, history is replete with diverse bridal parties and infamous groomsmen, where no lasting effect was seen in the marriage.

Other Things

What about the fly-past by those military jets? Was it right to leave by helicopter? Did the venerable Holy Man preach the wrong sermon? Did they pick the wrong day? How about their age difference? What about his ethnic background? Was the motorcade too long? Did they choose the right hymns? Should they have flown-in a different choir? Were their vows deficient in some way?

And what about the various receptions? Who made those menu choices? Is it bad to have six separate fireworks displays? Should the orchestras have been string quartets, and should so many different international stars be included in the one gala performance?

Wedding or Marriage

Millions of people watched the wedding around the world. It was a lesson in event management. The glitz, the hype, the spectacle and the international appeal made this one of the most talked about weddings in dec   ades.

However, the wedding is not the “marriage”. The wedding is a ceremony. The marriage is a living, life-long reality. You can use money to tizz-up a wedding ceremony, but you can’t use money to tizz-up a marriage. Weddings can be made of money. Marriages are built by two people.

The Failed Wedding

When a marriage fails it has next to nothing to do with the ‘wedding’. A failed wedding is a silly idea, unless the event simply failed to happen.
What will fail is the relationship, commitment and life-long union of the couple as man and wife. It is the ‘marriage’ that will fail.

The Wedding is Irrelevant

Sadly, no amount of money spent on the wedding can make a successful marriage. The viewing audience, fireworks display, gowns, choirs, rituals and traditions can’t make the marriage work. The extravagant honeymoon and the multi-million dollar estate for their first home can’t make the marriage work.

Nothing that happens on the wedding day, or that can be bought with daddy’s money, is going to make the marriage work. It is the couple themselves who will make the marriage work. Or the couple will make the marriage fail!

It’s Up to You

As you plan your big day, don’t think you have to get it perfect to be happy. The day can be a disaster yet your marriage be wonderfully blessed. You don’t need a perfect wedding. You are much better off with a blessed marriage!

Note then, that a successful marriage needs much more planning than the wedding day does.

All the dizzy notions of how this or that colour will look wonderful, and all those other arrangements for the day will be just memories and photos. What you must face, day after day, for the rest of your life, is the marriage you create on that day.

Enjoy the Day

I have no problem with a perfect wedding. That’s wonderful. Plan it as best you can. Enjoy it even when things go wrong. Get photographed laughing at the rain and the wind, and the flat tyre and the menu disaster. Make a real go of the day.
But don’t be distracted by the day. There are 364 more days ahead just to make it to your first anniversary. There are years and decades of married life awaiting you.

Make the Choice

If you had the choice of one glorious day, following by a life of misery and disappointment, or a completely mangled wedding day, followed by a life of unparalleled happiness, which would you choose?

If you go for the big wedding then I leave you to it. I have failed to prompt your thinking. And when your life turns out pear-shaped and all your hopes lie trampled on the ground, don’t blame the wedding day. It’s not a failed ‘wedding’ – it’s a failed Marriage!

What to Do

Decide right now to prepare yourself for “marriage”. There are many good courses and books to help you. If you are already married, then do a course, such as Married for Life, Marriage Alpha, or others.

Chris Field has written “Marriage Horizons” and “Mending Marriages” to help marriages succeed. Check them out at www.FamilyHorizons.net