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Second Marriages: 'Bet the Farm' (part 2)

By Marita Littauer with Chuck Noon, MA, LPCC
Guest Columnist

CBN.com -- Last time we looked at a couple, Rich and Pat. In their marriage, a second marriage for both of them, tension was building as they began to deal with the loss of a job. This week's column examines the issues of security and how it can help couples like Rich and Pat. If you missed the last installment or are new to this column, click here.

Many of us in a modern marriage can relate to Rich and Pat's story. Often couples seem to do well when life is cruising along, but when the difficulties crash upon them, underlying issues come to the surface. With the instability of today's job market, men and women who thought their career path was firm find themselves in a position similar to Rich and Pat. To insure that the insight offered here will be helpful to many couples, we will look primarily at the two key issues: security and life style. This week we will address security and in the next installment we will focus on lifestyle.

Security

Rich's predicament is very typical of men today, though some women face it too, whose security and worth is centered in their profession. However as a Christian, Rich needs to find his value in his life in Christ—as work does not define the believer. Gaylen Larson, Ph.D., adds ". . . find and practice his giftedness as defined in 1 Corinthians 12."

Charles understands how Rich feels. Charles and his wife, Karen, faced similar circumstances when a company reshuffle caused him to lose his position as a CFO in a major insurance company at fifty-nine. Charles says of that time in his life:

“My greatest fear was that I could no longer depend on myself. Hard work and experience now made no difference. Success and accomplishment eluded me. I had “worshiped” at those altars all my life. It was all I knew; it was what made me worthy.”

When Charles' self worth was in question, he pulled away from Karen and isolated himself, taking his anger at the world out on her. Many times Karen found herself reminding Charles that she was not the enemy. As Charles pushed her away, she had to do things on her own. She took up hiking and camping. She got some counsel, and she grew—all the while being patient with Charles as he dealt with his fears. During this time, Charles took a job as a night manager at a gas station where he had previously been a customer. His time of transition included driving a laundry truck, selling shoes, and managing a clothing store’s shoe department.

As Karen grew, Charles realized that if he wanted to "keep up" with her, he needed to make some changes as well. Finally he turned to Christian counseling and got involved in a men's Bible study. Charles says,

“It wasn't long before I saw that my worth was caught up in my corporate image. It was time to lean on the Lord as never before. Now, it seemed the Lord was instructing me that obedience to His directives was my business; the outcome of my endeavors was His. He would teach me that being smart, having power, prestige, and position had kept me from Him. He showed me that He would allow hurt and pain, failure and guilt, confusion and remorse to attack me so that finally there would be no place for me to go but to Him.”

Chuck and I faced something similar as well. Economics in the health care profession caused Chuck to take a job in sales much below his expectations and education. While waiting for customers at the Jaguar dealer, he has had time to read through the entire New Testament. In doing so, God showed him that work is just work. The apostle Paul was a tentmaker—though his education and position as a Pharisee would indicate that he could have had a much more prestigious position. Prior to his encounter with Christ, we can assume that Paul held an authoritative post within the Jewish community. Yet the Bible does not talk much about Paul's profession, but more about his actions and how he changed the world after his conversion. The Life Application Bible’s Personality Profile says, “No person, apart from Jesus himself, shaped the history of Christianity like the apostle Paul.

Charles and Chuck were Christians when life dealt them a hard blow. For both of them, it was in that down time that their relationship with Christ grew to a new level, to a place where they could view their job as just that—a job, like tentmaking. It does not define who they are.

While it is easier said than done, the first step Chuck advises Rich to take is to adjust his thinking about his worthiness. His job at the discount warehouse is just a job, a way to bring in some income, but it does not determine who he is. Gaylen Larson sees that Rich is struggling with self-esteem issues from which he feels like he will never recover. As a result, she sees that

“Because men define their worth by what they do, it would be important for Pat to go overboard in complimenting him. It may also help if he would teach a class at church or be involved in some leadership. This will help him feel better about himself.”

Kurt and Stephanie have been leading marriage enrichment classes for four years; they encourage Rich to get involved in a small group as Charles did. They say, “We have found small groups are a great way to find support, love, and friendship. With a group that is based on Christ, healing will take place.”

Once Rich reaches this place and allows his relationship with Christ to take on a deeper meaning in his life, he can then begin to see his marriage as a three-way relationship between him, Pat, and God. Charles tells of this time in his life:

“God taught me that my relationship with Karen was a direct barometer of how my relationship was with Him. Now, I marvel at what the Lord has given us in our marriage. It is simply sweet. It is far beyond what I had thought would be possible for us, or for any marriage. As it is in all things, this marriage is His, not mine, not Karen's--but I am sure glad I am one of the participants!”

Stephanie agrees,

“From my study of Scripture and Jesus’ saying ‘I have come to heal the sick,’ it has become more and more apparent to me just what He meant by that statement. Marriage with Jesus will not be trouble free, but it will survive. Marriages without Christ barely have a chance on this earth--even if things look great on the outside, they may be falling a part on the inside. We have learned the importance of the unity created when Christ becomes a part of the marriage.”

“Once Rich is able to make this shift in his thinking and his relationship with Christ, Chuck advises that he and Pat need to begin to build communication and open up to their true feelings. Maxine Marsolni, author of Blended Families, offers Rich and Pat this counsel:

“When life throws you a curve ball, and you should expect it will once in a while, it would be best for this couple to cleave together in prayer and goal attainment. Rich and Pat seem to have tied their sense of worth to their pocketbook and not their core personhood set forth by their creator. Both are bright and capable in their own right, but until they can talk about their true feelings it will be difficult to overcome the shame that accompanies their unmet expectations. Humility is often a hard ball to grasp, yet is the very core element of Christianity and marital bliss.”

From her own similar experience, Sherrie suggests that Pat create an environment that will disarm Rich's aversion to discuss their situation.

“I would encourage Pat to request that she and Rich join one another in prayer each day, even if it is just for a minute and regarding nothing seemingly significant. It is amazing the closeness that is fostered when a couple begins to pray together on a regular basis. This gets them comfortable with one another in the presence of the One with the answers. It also allows for “comfortable” vulnerability over time.”

For Charles and Karen, prayer was an important part of the restoration of their relationship as well. Charles reflects,

“We began to pray together each morning—walking and talking. Then we came together to discuss finances, future goals and decisions that would affect our children.”

As Charles was rediscovering himself in Christ, he was able to talk to Karen about what he was learning. Karen welcomed his conversations and encouraged him. Eventually, they recommitted themselves to the Lord, to one another, and to their family.

The scenario mentions that Pat expected that while she planned to work, she also thought she would have a husband who would be there to take care of her. As we will discuss in the column on Career Chaos, the reality today is that Pat needs to let go of that expectation. Jobs are no longer secure, and a couple needs to work together. This is one of the ways that the love extravagantly concept can be put into practice: Pat needs to let go of her expectations and anger toward Rich for not being there for her in her time of need—"not to get but to give." Stephanie advises:

“True love, extravagant love, is helping each other, supporting each other and esteeming the other as better than yourself.”

This week we have addressed the issue of security. Be sure to watch for the next installment of Love Extravagantly when “Bet the Farm” continues with insights on life direction.

If this is the first installment of this column you have read, we encourage you to click here to read previous articles.


Marita LittauerMarita Littauer is the author of 13 books and is President of CLASServices Inc. She can be reached through www.classervices.com.

Chuck Noon is a licensed professional counselor specializing in marriage. Chuck is married to Marita Littauer.  For more information visit: www.chucknoon.com

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