Lesson Number One
At times the only thing that keeps a couple going is the dream. Intimate relationships are very influential on our hearts. They are filled with hopes and dreams and disappointments. The relationship begins with the feeling that it will be magical and fulfilling. The dream gets interrupted by the real needs of the individuals involved. A lifetime of marriage is filled with disappointments, setbacks, misunderstandings, times of great responsibility, financial decisions, and many other challenges. No man ever said to a young woman, “Will you marry me so we can load up on bills and work hard the rest of our lives to pay them off?” But when reality hits, a couple can endure some boring, stressful, and painful times because of the dream: We can rediscover our love over and over again. A couple with this dream will work together to build a place where their relationship works. The dream gets them through the unexpected.
After we finished remodeling the kitchen, the dream expanded. As we grew accustomed to our new home, we entertained a foolish thought: This is not enough.
Lesson Number Two
Something in the hearts of men and women easily becomes discontent. We have cars, but they aren’t nice enough. We have computers, but they aren’t fast enough. We have homes, but they aren’t big enough. We have relationships, but they aren’t good enough.
We get married to the person of our dreams but grow discontent because we forget the dream in the light of reality. What was beautiful in the night fades in the daylight. A joke we read puts it this way: “Did you ever notice that when you fall in love, you sink into his arms, but after the wedding, your arms are in his sink?” In every relationship, the dream must withstand the realities of everyday life.
The “not good enough” bug bit us, and we decided we needed to add a master bathroom to our house. The project seemed simple as we talked about it. We would just move the front door and then simply turn the entryway into a bathroom. What we thought would take about a month to finish took almost five times that long. I would love to tell you that Pam was very proud of me and said, “Wow, honey, I appreciate your perseverance. Even though this is taking longer than you thought, I am amazed at the way you’re sticking to the task. By the way, you look really sexy in dirty construction clothes!”
Instead, the comments degraded from “I’m so excited!” to “How long did you say this was going to take? Don’t you think you should get someone else to finish this? I’m beginning to think you like working on the house better than spending time with me.”
Even though hiring a contractor would probably have been a good idea, my ego winced. My thoughts had originally been noble: I’m going to do this for my new wife. But as time went on, my thoughts turned sour. I’ll show her. I can’t believe she doesn’t think I can do this! Why is she complaining? This was her idea! I had lost sight of the dream.
Survived Once — Do It Again!
Our second house is a very different story. With great expectation and enthusiasm we moved to San Diego County to pastor a church. We assumed we could sell the home we remodeled and buy a home in Southern California. During the first three months we were in San Diego, however, the average house rose $40,000 in value, and we were priced right out of the market.
I did not want to build a house. I had worked as an architectural draftsman for years before becoming a pastor. I helped many people design custom homes for their families, and as I watched these families go through the process of building their homes, I concluded I will never do this! Somehow, God must not have heard me correctly.
The people of the church were incredibly gracious. A plumber told me, “If you want to build a house, I’ll donate my time to put in the plumbing.” I replied, “Thanks for the offer, but we’re not going to build a house.”
An electrician told me, “If you want to build a house, I’ll donate my time to install the wiring.” Again I said, “Thanks for the offer, but we’re not going to build a house.”
A heating and air conditioning contractor told me, “If you want to build a house, I’ll donate my time to install the heating system.” I repeated, “Thanks for the offer, but we’re not going to build a house.”
A roofer told me, “If you want to build a house, I’ll donate my time to install the roofing.” Still I said, “Thanks for the offer, but we’re not going to build a house.”
I began to think a conspiracy was going on. I didn’t want to do this, but God was inspiring people to be incredibly generous. Generosity is a great trait, but it can be irritating when you have an attitude! With the hope that He wouldn’t come through, I made a deal with God. I told Him, I know a man who is a construction supervisor. He’s only working four days a week right now. If he approaches me, tells me I should build, and offers to walk me through the whole process, I will build. But he has to approach me!
You can probably figure out what happened next. This friend walked up to me and said, “Hey, Bill, I think you should build a home. I’m only working four days a week right now, and I’m willing to walk you through the whole process.”
My mouth fell open so fast, I think I bruised my chin on the floor. I wanted to say, “Thanks for the offer, but we’re not going to build a house.” What I said instead was…nothing. I was so dumbfounded that I couldn’t say a thing. I finally squeaked out, “I’ll get back to you.”
Based on this interaction, I found property, drew up plans for our home, and acquired a permit. The week I received the permit, my friend was honored with the job of his dreams. It took advantage of all of his gifts and blessed him with a large salary increase. It also required six days a week and long hours. As a result, he wasn’t able to walk us through the process of building our home. I needed a miracle!
Adapted from The 10 Best Decisions a Couple Can Make: Bringing Out the Best in Your Relationship.
Copyright © 2008 Bill and Pam Farell, Published by Harvest House. All rights reserved, used by permission.