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October 13, 2012


Change Your Marriage | Today’s Christian Woman

Choose the third option: stand together

Janelle Alberts

I now pronounce you husband and wife. According to Erma Bombeck, “There are few phrases as sobering, with the possible exceptions of ‘We have lift-off’ and ‘This country is at war.'” I, however, was a little more idealistic about marriage. When friends asked what I wanted for wedding gifts I told them, “Wine glasses.” I said simply, “Find us a beautiful picnic basket and stuff it with really great cheeses.” What else would we possibly need? I was only 21, but that’s no excuse. I was, in fact, capable of grasping that life changes would be hard and required work. Like motherhood. I had visions of sweet little cherubs with my husband’s eyes and my cheekbones repeating the same phrase: “Gimme.” My strategy on that one? Avoid it. But marriage? Marriage would be the shiny penny of happiness that had eluded me thus far in life. My husband was absolutely as naïve as me. After we’d been married five minutes, he sweetly gazed at me with this gem: “I just can’t reason why people say marriage is so hard.” I was determined to make money at any cost. My husband wanted children. There’s one reason. I hollered at home but hugged in public. My husband liked to sweep relationship tension under the rug. There’s another reason. The reasons start small. Little slices, like paper cuts. We had somehow hit the situation with no tools. Within a few years, we’d snowballed into a mess, blown the whole thing up, and abandoned each other—off to start fresh on a clean slate somewhere else. A reasonable plan. Except for the mirrors. Under separate roofs, we each asked a mirror, “How did I become the exact person I planned not to be?” Then we did something miraculous. We changed.

We stopped being two-option people. (Option 1: run. Option 2: acquiesce.) We each, instead, became people who stood. Then we began again to stand together. People don’t like to change. Hour after hour I have spent in Bible studies with couples preaching relationship-strengthening Scriptures, and then they report home to marriages that are…lonely. But they don’t change.


Terminating the two-option mindset in marriage is hard. We know how to run. We know how to acquiesce. Standing, however, can be confusing. We get very little schooling on how to do it well. Esther understood this. She too wanted to follow a path of least resistance. Luckily, she had Mordecai. Esther is an Old Testament heroine who stood up for her Jewish roots. But first she became queen to divorced King Xerxes, who wanted his second wife to have one particular inclination: submissive obedience.


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