Over the course of a few months, I met with a couple to offer them some marital counseling. They were like most couples who come to me, about to give up after a long hard struggle to survive. It appeared they had tried everything, and they were going to give it one last shot with me.
In one of my conversations, the problem began to crystallize. The wife was upset about the way he treated her. He was never physically or emotionally abusive, but he seemed to be overly irritating all the time. One example she gave was they he never picked up his clothes. He would take things off at night and throw them in the corner of the bedroom. The next day he would put on clean clothes and leave the old ones in the corner for her to pick up. She had tried everything to get him to change. She left them there until the pile reached enormous proportions. She quietly asked, and she yelled with a loud voice to wake the neighbors. Nothing changed.
The conversation that brought this all into focus was one that I had with him alone. I asked him what he was doing to help his marriage, and he gave me an honest and straightforward response. He said, “I am trying to follow Jesus.” I inquired as to what that meant, and he said something like, “You know I am reading my bible and praying.” I asked what else he was doing. He thought hard and said, “I also come to Church each week with her, and I am trying to attend a Sunday School class.” Once more I questioned him, “Is there anything else you are trying.” He looked at me and said, “Nope, just trying to follow Jesus and asking the Lord to work this out.”
Trying to be a good counselor I did not state the obvious and tried to lead him to the truth. No matter how I posed the questions he came back to this singular idea, “I am just following Jesus.” Looking back, maybe I should have said it directly, but I also think he would have resented me for it. I wanted to shout at him, “Why don’t you try picking up your clothes!”
I share this story because it gives us insight into why a marriage crumbles. A marriage usually fails when people fail to put faith into action in the simplest of ways. They have a disconnect between following Jesus and picky up their dirty clothes to make their spouse happy.
Couples fail when one or both of them quit saying, “I love you” or stares at their phone instead of talking. It happens when the things that please my spouse go undone despite their continual requests. Ask someone you know who is divorced and most of them will not tell you about one significant incident that ruined it all. Instead, they will tell you about a flood of small issues that were never resolved.
Truly following Jesus sometimes means doing the little things that bring joy to other people in his name. We can follow Jesus best by picking up our dirty clothes.
What could you do in the name of Jesus this weekend that would help your marriage? The answer might be as easy as a laundry basket.