After the hustle and bustle of Christmas, there is something extremely cathartic in the annual New Year cleanup. Dump runs, recycling, closet purges and general decluttering help restore order and serenity to our surroundings. While some refuse to part with anything, many deep-six whatever has ceased to be useful or meaningful without the slightest hesitation or twinge of conscience.
We value convenience in our fast-paced world and have grown accustomed to and even dependent on disposables – products designed to be discarded as waste after as little as one use. Bottled water, razors, lighters, diapers and dinnerware. Availability of a glut of cheap merchandise has greatly diminished our need, and thus our incentive, to save or repair things. I mean, when was the last time someone you knew darned a pair of socks?
Perhaps living in a throw-away culture has contributed to the casual attitude we’ve taken towards things that were never intended to be disposable – things like people, relationships and marriage. We shuck out the bucks for gourmet coffees and pay through the nose for insurance of every kind. We indulge in luxurious cosmetics, designer clothes, costly hobbies and sports and take vacations we can’t afford. But when our relationships become sickly and our marriages break down, whether restrained by pride, fear or weariness, we are often slow to seek help or invest the finances, time and energy needed to revive, strengthen and save them.
In a society where things and people have become dispensable we are quick to want a do-over. It seems easier to just hit delete than go back and try and correct our mistakes.
January is reportedly the month when most legal separations and divorces are filed and relational breakups occur. People often bite their tongues to get through the holiday season, to give their kids and extended families one last Christmas together knowing all the while that come the new year, the other shoe is going to drop.
While there are times when separation is necessary – whether for good or to simply catch our breath, and get our heads and hearts back in the game, research reveals that those couples who do work through their differences end up with better and even stronger marriages.
Good marriages don’t just happen, they are the result of humbly, sacrificially and faithfully investing in each other – when we feel like it and especially when we don’t. Great marriages are enriched when they’re lived out in supportive community with others of like mind and spirit.
Ecclesiastes chapter three says “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:” including, “a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend.” My fervent prayer for those experiencing relational turmoil is that you won’t throw away a valuable marriage, that you won’t allow your family to be torn apart, but that you will do everything within your power, including asking God and others for help, to make this a time to mend.