"You're not responsible for what happened to you in the past, but you
ARE responsible for what you do with your life now. Do you have the
courage to be who you were meant to be?" -Cathryn L Taylor
When we marry we bring all of the experiences of our past with us --
both positive and negative. These experiences have shaped so much how
we view things and how we conduct ourselves in situations. While we
can't change the past, we do have the power to change the present and
future. That's what we learn from Dr. Gary and Barbara Rosberg's book,
"Healing the Hurt in Your Marriage" (Tyndale House Publishers). On
this particular issue they wrote:
"For years now Barb and I (Gary) have heard a litany of complaints
from husbands and wives who came into their marriages negatively
influenced by our culture and their families of origin.
"Speaking of their marriages and hurts, they say things like: 'I just
don't know how to do this right'; 'I grew up in a dysfunctional home,
so I don't know what normal is'; 'No one ever taught me how to deal
with conflicts'; My parents' example is so ingrained in me, I'll never
be able to change.'
"You may feel the same hopelessness, the same inability to change.
You may feel destined to live out the same ineffective patterns in
your own marriage. But that's like giving up on a garden because the
soil is too hard or too rocky or infested with weeds. Have you ever
heard of a pick, shovel, hoe, soil amendments, and a little hard work?
"In the same way you can change the condition of soil you can unlearn
bad patterns of dealing with conflict and learn new ones. It's never
too late to learn and implement the biblical principles for forgiving
"It is our God-given responsibility to cultivate good soil in our
marriage relationships so that our children and grandchildren will
have a biblical pattern to follow in their marriages.
"The psalmist wrote: "For [God] issued his decree to Jacob; He gave
his law to Israel. He commanded our ancestors to teach them to their
children, so the next generation might know them--even the children
not yet born --that in turn might teach their children. So each
generation can set its hope anew on God, remembering his glorious
miracles and obeying his commands." (Psalm 78:5-7)
"As you divorce-proof your marriage through forgiving love, you will
help your children to divorce-proof their marriages.
"So what are you doing to alter patterns you learned? How are you
making your marriage different from that of your parents? How can
you bequeath to your children a family legacy that is more biblical
and positive than that of your family of origin?
"You can look at this responsibility two ways. You can think of it
as a tremendous burden and a lot of hard work. Or you can welcome
it as an opportunity to pass on to your children something that was
not passed on to you. Even if you didn't grow up in a healthy home,
you can commit yourself to developing healthy patterns for resolving
"The family you came from is important, but it's not as important
as the family you'll leave behind. Identify from your family of
origin the barriers to communication and healthy conflict resolution.
Gain the insights you can from the past, deal with the emotional
pain of it, and then move on to developing new patterns that include
confession and forgiveness of offenses and healing of hurts.
"As you leave behind the past to create a more positive present,
you'll bless the next generation. One way or another, you will leave
your handprints all over the personalities and hearts of your
children. Will you leave behind a generation that will reach the
world for Christ, or will you give up at the daunting task and let
them go their own way?
"What are you doing to give your children the spiritual training
and skills they will need for their lives and marriages? What kind
of godly heritage are you leaving them? The key is found in
establishing a home that honors God, a home where each individual
is encouraged to develop a relationship with Jesus, a home where
people make mistakes and fail each other but recognize they have
the power, through God, to be transformed.
"Conflict in marriage is inevitable, but you don't have to remain
trapped in the dysfunctional patterns of resolving conflict you
learned from your parents or the world around you."
Cindy and I believe that each of us, as couples, have the respon-
sibility to break free from whatever negative patterns we brought
into our marriage. Even if we've been married 39+ years it's not
too late to change. After all isn't that what Jesus specializes
in --making us into new creations?
Yes, but we must cooperate with the process because He won't force
it on us --we're given a free will. If we pro-actively seek and
participate, the positive changes are nothing less than amazing!
If your marriage is going in an unhealthy direction right now,
that's what we encourage you to do --work with God in doing
whatever you can to re-direct it in a good direction. Your
children deserve to have a healthy, God-honoring marriage modeled
for them. Please don't buy into the lie that you'll "never be
able to change" or that once things are bad, they can't get better.
That's just not true.
Even if you never had a good marriage modeled for you, that doesn't
mean that you can't do what it takes, in working with God, to
eventually live within and model a good marriage for your children
and those God brings your way.
Go with God, knowing that He is "...able to do immeasurably more
than we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work
within us." (Ephesians 3:20)