Another Christmas has passed. The turkey dinner has been consumed, and the bones lie in ruin in the garbage, disregarded and possibly under-appreciated.
In addition, the mystery and excitement of once-colourfully and perfectly decorated Christmas gifts lie torn and unwrapped on the floor. Boxes of chocolates are empty, the candy canes are no more and the de-escalating excitement of yet another Christmas celebration signals the consummation of another season, and that it’s time to move on –time to consume the next best thing.
A Consumerism Mentality:
Isn’t this true, often, of how we approach life, too? We approach romance as a checkmark on our to-do list. At the start, we work hard to woe or impress the partner of our dreams. We buy them initial flowers, do nice things for them and showcase our skills and talents to impress them. We set up candle-light dinners, buy gifts and write romantic notes.
Then, once the thrill, honeymoon and the to-do list has another checkmark, consumerism and the stress of everyday life sets in. Suddenly, the dinners and romantic letters stop, and we move on to consume the next thing. With a consumerism-driven mindset and a race car driver mentality, we race to move onto the next thing. We view life as a fast-paced-race, quickly shifting the gears of life into the next best thing to achieve or consume.
Similarly, once we’ve accomplished marriage, we work hard for that fancy new promotion at our dream job. Then, click, we move onto the next goal, shifting life’s gears from one to-do list to the next. As the next natural shift of life and as a mark of successful adulthood, we work to move up the North American corporate ladder. We work to get that new car and work to finance our dream house. On and on the consumerism process goes.
The point is, once the infatuation process, which only lasts at best 12-18 months and the butterflies of the excitement of a new marriage, the stresses of new work-responsibilities, the excitement of a bigger paycheque, the thrill of obtaining our dream job and the stress of new financial responsibilities dissipates, we are culturally programmed, just like a rubber band, to snap back to our original form: unthankfulness and anticipation for what should come next.
Just like the turkey, all too often, we throw away the blessings and privileges of the previous tradition, season or milestone. In our North American tradition of “more is better”, we take far too many things for granted. We easily and naturally become dissatisfied. We become accustom to blessings others don’t have, living life forward with a fast-paced-what’s-next kind of mentality. We leave things in the dust, disregarded and often under-appreciated. We live life on a high-speed chase to gain more.
The Gift of a Life-Long Marriage:
Unfortunately, this consumerism mentality works it’s way into our marriage, too. Culturally, we are tempted to think marriage should provide us with up-high-in-the-sky feelings everyday. As a result, when the feelings aren’t there or hardships come we hit the panic button or the eject button and we abandon ship. But our marriages are not meant to be consumed and perfect everyday. It’s a process. Instead, they are meant to be cherished, refined, to sanctify us more, to increase our love for one another.
Genesis 2:18 says:“The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” Then, God made the animals so the man would not be alone. Yet, still the man was alone, because he was unable to find a suitable helper, a helper that was like him (Genesis 2:20). Then, woman was created. Man now had a partner suitable for him. He was given an incredible gift –the gift of on-going companionship.
Our marriages are an incredible gift. Both man and woman are to be cherished by one another, because God gave them to us so that we would not be alone. He wanted us to have someone to go through the rollercoaster of life with. Someone to cry with, laugh with, stress together over life’s numerous difficulties and walk together through different life-seasons. It’s an on-going life-long relationship, and it takes effort and commitment, through the good and the bad –until death do us a part.
Bringing it Together:
As the Christmas season passes, the Christmas celebration meals dissipate and consummation chimes us into the next season of life, as the chocolate boxes lie empty and the candy canes no longer hang in anticipation and excitement, let’s challenge ourselves to view our marriage everyday like an incredible celebration –an amazing gift to unwrap. Not just a once-a-year, like we do at Christmas, but all year around.
Let’s fight against our North American consumerism culture and step out of the cultural-programming of a to-do list mentality. For the goal of life and marriage is not to accumulate, climb up the corporate ladder, find the trophy spouse, then neglect her for your next and more exciting endeavours. The goal is not to unwrap the gift of your spouse once, then move on, rather the goal of life and love is an on-going and deepening relationship, to learn to hold, cherish and love the treasures you have around you: your spouse, your family, your friends and your relationship with God.
In terms of your relationship with your spouse, I encourage you to make this new year –and every year– a year where you work hard at cherishing the loved one God has so graciously, divinely and kindly placed in your life to walk through the ups and downs with. Make this the year that you work at cultivating on-going and life-long habits of working to master the daily art of: unwrapping the gift of your marriage. Not just once or twice a year, but everyday.