But it hasn't always been this way...
Lindsey and I talked about this topic yesterday and had a HUGE heart-to-heart a couple of nights ago and I can't help but tell you about it now, because the lesson I am learning is life-changing.
It is good to wrestle!
I never knew that before. I didn't know that it was okay and even HEALTHY to wrestle with her. So now, we lock arms and go toe-to-toe. We grab each other by the hair and we grapple and toss each other around the room in heated passion.
Okay, maybe not. Not exactly. But my name is Steve Austin and I have heard the jokes about my name for the past thirty-one years, so why not?
But seriously, it is good to wrestle!
I remember being in a "Nearly and Newly Married" Sunday School class at the church we were attending while engaged to be wed. I think they must throw engaged couples into the class with the newly marrieds and the older married couple that is teaching the class to do their best to scare you out of the decision! I remember Lindsey and I getting in the car after nearly every time with that class and being appalled at the way the people talked about their guy or gal! Any time we would split up the guys and the girls, several of the guys would talk about their "other half" like it was the worst thing in the world to deal with them! Apparently the girls were just as bad: gripe and growl about their man.
For the first several years of our marriage, we were so stuck on "pleasing" one another and doing things different from what we had seen with our own parents, we both held so much inside and buried it down deep. We never wrestled. We never ripped our shirts and smashed beer cans on our heads and jumped from the top rope. We never screamed and yelled. We never fought. We barely argued.
People thought our life together was absolutely perfect. I wouldn't go back to that place for all the gold in the world.
We could learn a lot about relationships from the rules of wrestling (italics are mine).
- 1) Takedown: Points are scored for taking your opponent down to the mat. If we would hit our knees together in prayer more often, we would view our spouses less as opponents and more as partners.
- 2) Escape: You score one point for getting away or getting to a neutral position when your opponent has you down on the mat. Sometimes the best thing is to take time to "cool down", but it is never okay to have something that serves as your "escape" from your family. If you feel the need for a constant "escape", you may have something you need to wrestle about.
- 3) Reversal: You score two points when your opponent has you down on the mat and you come from underneath and gain control of your opponent. You will not always "win" the argument and that's okay. The point isn't "winning or losing" in the confines or marriage; the goal is mutual understanding and respect of one another's views.
- 4) Near Fall: You get near fall points when you almost but not quite get your opponent pinned. This is my favorite one. How many "near falls" have you had? I've had one major near fall and so has Lindsey. I'm thankful that His perfect grace empowered and compelled us to wrestle through it and stay together. God will give you what you need at the exact moment you need it, but you may have to wrestle him for it, too. (See the story of Jacob.)
- 5) Penalty Points: Your opponent is awarded points if you commit the following infractions. Just like in wrestling, there is protocol that must be followed in marriage. You can only wrestle within the confines of the mat and there are rules that should be followed to make the match (or the marriage) safe for each participant.
- Illegal Holds: There are several holds that the referee will penalize you for without warning. (There are other holds called "potentially dangerous holds" which the referee might make you let go of but will not penalize you for). Each marriage is different, just like each person is different. Only you can decide what is an "illegal hold" for you. I believe that is why the Bible says, "The marriage bed is undefiled." If you are both comfortable with what you are doing, GO FOR IT! Have fun! Life it up! Make love! But you should both mutually agree on what the "illegal holds" are and agree to keep them out of your bed.
- Fleeing the mat: In my opinion, there is nothing wrong with leaving the house, but the #1 rule should be that as you are leaving, you say, "I am leaving, but I will be back". Sometimes you have to take that "cool down" session in order to show your significant other the mutual respect and understanding that he or she deserves
- Locked or overlapped hands: If you are down on the mat in control of your opponent, you cannot lock or overlap your hands, fingers or arms around your opponent's body or both legs unless you have met criteria for a near pin of your opponent. Don't kick them when they're down. We all go through seasons and have tough times. Choose your battles and your timing wisely.
- Reporting to the mat not properly equipped or not ready to wrestle: To use a little "Christianese", don't show up to a wrestling match if you aren't prayed up. If you haven't wrestled with God first, you may want to reconsider wrestling with your spouse.
- Flagrant Misconduct: Ejection, the match is over. Again, only you and your "better half" can decide what counts as "flagrant misconduct". No one else can tell you to leave him or leave her. You have to make that decision on your own after a whole lot of wrestling with God.
And as a side note: People will watch your marriage. People will judge your marriage. People will typically always believe a rumor before they believe the truth, but there is nothing in this world that matters less than the opinion of an ignorant fool and there is nothing in this world that matters more than what you have in your intimate relationship with your partner. If someone isn't sleeping with you, then their opinion REALLY doesn't matter.
My wife and I have been through Hell and back and still have to face the gossip and criticism of others, but we continue to wrestle with God and one another and we know that this marriage has been blessed by God and that nothing in this world will ever tear us apart.
I love you Lindsey Austin. This one's for you:
*Overview of Wrestling Rules from wvmat.com