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If there’s one thing the Christian industry is good at, it’s selling solutions to “marriage problems.”
Books, seminars, conferences, 30-day challenges, etc.
With all the activity to “solve the problem” we fail to ask a more fundamental question:
What exactly is a “marriage problem”?
If you are trained in systems thinking, you might recognize an important clue to exposing the sleight of hand at play here:
There is no such thing as a “marriage problem.”
Dr. Russell Ackoff was one of the “founding fathers” of systems thinking and perhaps one of the last university professors who possessed that rare asset known as “wisdom.”
In his seminal introduction to systems thinking lecture, he made a provocative statement:
“Problems don’t exist.”
Problems don’t exist as seperate entities. They are not things. They are abstractions.
How a problem is defined reveals more about the person describing the problem than it does about the reality of the situation.
In reality, there are no “problems.” There are just messes. A problem is simply a conceptual tool we use to help us make sense of the mess. Or, in the case of less-than-honest people, a problem is used to manufacture fear, shame and guilt for the purposes of manipulation (for fun & profit, of course.)
This might seem like a pointless exercise in semantics, but there’s a subtle yet crucial truth I’m trying to get across:
Marriage is NOT an “institution.” Marriages do NOT have “problems.”
Marriage is a SYSTEM. It’s a RELATIONSHIP between a man and a woman. It is dynamic, not static.
The thing about systems (or relationships) is that the individual parts do not matter so much as the INTERACTION of the parts.
Something special is created when the parts interact that could not exist if those parts were seperate.
This “special something” is the FUNCTION of the system.
If you view your relationship to your woman as a system, you soon realize that there is no list of problems you need to solve. You simply ask…
Is my relationship functional, or dysfunctional?
Well, to answer that question, you ask an even more fundamental question:
What is the FUNCTION of a marriage?
The Apostle Paul gives us the answer:
Husbands, be loving your wives according as Christ also loves the ecclesia, and gives Himself up for its sake, that He should be hallowing it, cleansing it in the bath of the water (with His declaration), that He should be presenting to Himself a glorious ecclesia, not having spot or wrinkle or any such things, but that it may be holy and flawless. (Ephesians 5:25-27 CLV)
In other words, the biblical function of a marriage is to remove the flaws of the woman.
And who determines what the flaws are?
The husband (“presenting to Himself.”)
So the only real “marriage problems” are the things about the woman that displeases the man.
If it’s a functional marriage, the wife is changing into a woman who is more pleasing to her husband.
If it’s a dysfunctional the wife remains fixed in the things that displease her husband.
Since the woman has the responsive role in the relationship, the key to fixing a dysfunctional relationship is usually to build up the man.
As a man, you should not be afraid to take the lead in directing your woman’s health and personal development. Help her with her diet and exercise. Help her break her bad habits. Introduce her to new sexual experiences.
Become her life coach.
Recognize whatever bothers you about your woman and, with love, remove those flaws.
Not only is this your right, it is your holy responsibility to her as a man.
As a follow up to last week’s email on the not-so-difficult life of the medieval peasant, I came across a fascinating TED talk:
Jon Jandai grew up in a rural farming village in northeastern Thailand. He worked two months a year and built himself a house in 2 weeks. He spent most of his time in leisure: “getting to know himself” and doing whatever he enjoys.
Then television arrived and he learned he was poor, so he went to college and tried to start a career. Apparantly, he got enough education to give this 15-minute speech to prove how stupid we’ve all been for the last 200 years: