Married people are more likely than others to strive for ways to forgive an offense and move on, according to a Barna Group study released earlier this year.
It’s partly because these couples have no illusions from the outset that there won’t be bumps in the road.
“For better, for worse. For richer, for poorer. In sickness and in health. Whatever the wording of a couple’s wedding vows, there’s generally an acknowledgment that tough times will come,” the authors write in “Married Couples & Parents See Fewer Barriers to Forgiving Others.”
“This will require mediating tension or giving and receiving forgiveness,” they continue, “and this study indicates married practicing Christians are following through — or, at least, they report doing so.”
The key is commitment.
When couples know that divorce is not an option, they make up much more readily after arguments than other people do. Waiting for another time to reconcile just delays the inevitable.
Or, to put it another way, why sleep on the couch when you’re going to have to come back together at some point anyway?
Forgoing retaliation. “Six out of 10 married respondents (61 percent) say that not seeking punishment or retribution is a key element of forgiveness, while half of those who have never been married (51 percent) agree,” the Barna study reported.
“Nearly three-quarters of married individuals (72 percent) say forgiveness is about repaired relationships, plain and simple. Those who have never married are 10 percentage points less likely to agree with this statement (62 percent).”
“Meanwhile, these single practicing Christians have a different boundary in mind; they are more likely than married practicing Christians to say forgiveness may mean restoring a relationship without forgetting the offense (30 percent vs. 22 percent),” the study noted.
Of the issues that couples struggle with most, research shows that finances are at the top of the list.
Many organizations, of course, guide couples to make sound financial decisions.
Timothy Plan, for instance, has a tool that can help alleviate tension as Christian couples strive to achieve their financial goals while investing in a morally responsible manner.
Timothy Plan also does not invest in companies that support abortion, that have agendas contrary to the teachings of scripture, or that participate in activities and causes that are destructive to our communities at large.
Since 1994, an intricate screening process has been an integral part of the Timothy Plan family of biblically based mutual funds — and marriage is one of eight screens.
Founder Art Ally used the first pro-family, pro-life screening standard — which, aside from marriage, includes life, purity, family, liberty, stewardship, longevity and sobriety.
Marriage vs. cohabitation. Although the study did not specifically focus on marriage versus cohabiting, other researchers see a big advantage for married couples in getting past disputes.
“Sometimes couples choose to live together as a substitute for marriage even though they profess love for each other and want a permanent relationship,” wrote Janice Shaw Crouse in American Thinker.
“They explain that if the relationship goes sour, they want to avoid the trouble, expense, and emotional trauma of a divorce. The couple does not understand that without the commitment of marriage, there is little incentive or likelihood that they will work through their problems or that they will maintain the relationship under pressure. It is more likely that one or the other will ‘cut and run’ when conflict arises, since each person’s individuality is more likely stronger than their relationship together.”
“What research shows is that cohabitating relationships in the United States tend to be fragile and relatively short in duration: Less than half of cohabiting relationships last five or more years. Typically, they last about 18 months.”
‘Something really special.’ In her book “Marriage Matters: Perspectives on The Private and Public Importance of Marriage,” Crouse expounded on what makes a healthy marriage work.
“If and when both husband and wife lay aside their resentments when they do not get their own way, learn to appreciate their differences, and thus achieve a deeper understanding of one another than the mere romantic attraction that brought them together initially, their affection for each other can steadily deepen until the relationship they create turns out to be ‘something really special.’ Remarkably, such an example becomes an influence on the lives of everyone who chances to witness the love they share.
“A good marriage generates life and energy in such a marvelous way that it radiates outward, nourishing all in its path.”
“In short, to marry is to start another branch on the tree of life with all of its bountiful potential, large and small.”
Robert Knight is a writer for Timothy Partners, Ltd. He is a regular weekly columnist for The Washington Times and Townhall.com and is frequently published by American Thinker, The Daily Caller, OneNewsNow and others. His latest book is “A Nation Worth Fighting For: 10 Steps to Restore Freedom.”
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