Lessons from the First Marriage

What was one of the first things Adam and Eve did as a married couple? 

They failed. 

We don’t know exactly how much time was between their creation and their fall – the time frame isn’t given in the Bible, but one of the first instances recorded about Adam and Eve is their failure. In chapter two of Genesis, man and woman are created in God’s image. They are given to each other in marriage; they are told to be fruitful and multiply. God placed them in the Garden of Eden with only one condition: they were not to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Immediately in chapter three, they do the one thing they were forbidden to do.

They were given a perfect situation. They were created good. Neither one of them had a job. They didn’t have money to argue over. There wasn’t a house to argue about decorating, a car, bills, social schedules, or sickness to contend with. Of all the married couples in the history of the world, they had it the easiest. It should have been a cake walk. And yet, they still failed.  

I haven’t met a single couple who doesn’t struggle. We are all imperfect humans living in an imperfect world. Before you get married, that doesn’t really sink in. Your spouse will bring out the worst and the best of you. Despite how many people tell you otherwise, you can’t fathom that you indeed will “fail” in your marriage. Sometimes it’s a daily occurrence. A wife can tell herself that she won’t nag her husband. A husband can be determined that he will not ignore his wife. But both will fail regularly. We’re humans. Despite what any of us think, we’re all imperfect. And that fact usually comes out most profoundly in marriage. You will fail yourself, you’ll fail each other, you’ll fail the concept of your marriage, and you’ll fail God. 

Before you raise your hand and immediately start negating everything I’m saying because you refuse to accept that you are indeed a failure, have a look at a few definitions of the word.

Fail: unsuccessful in achieving one’s goal; unable to meet the standards; neglect to do something; behaving in a way contrary to hopes or expectations (New Oxford American Dictionary).

Tell me again that you haven’t failed. That’s what I thought.

So when the inevitable happens what should we then do? From Adam and Eve’s first failure we can learn what not to do when we fail: 

1. Hide

And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. – Genesis 3:8 (ESV)

Hiding gets you nowhere. Hidden things always seem to make themselves known. When Samuel and I first got married, I learned this lesson quickly. Right after we got married, we moved to downtown Seattle, Washington into an apartment on First Avenue. The rent wasn’t cheap. The deposit wasn’t minuscule. Samuel was adamant about keeping the apartment in mint condition, so we would get most of our deposit back when we moved out. Well, about three months into living there, I decided I needed to iron all of our freshly-laundered sheets and pillowcases because that’s what good housewives do, right? I couldn’t find a surface big enough for the sheet, so in my genius mind, I decided to iron our sheets on our lovely cream-colored carpet. You know where I’m going with this. 

Oh yes, before too long I had a lovely triangle-shaped burn right smack in front of our bed. I stared at in panic, and hurriedly did many dumb things to try and turn the melted carpet back into it’s fluffy, creamy state. Nothing worked. Samuel was out at the gym when it happened, so I thought I could somehow hide it before he got home. I thought of rugs. I thought of furniture, but naturally, it was in the ONE spot in the entire room that was practically impossible to hide. And who was I kidding? Samuel knows when something is wrong with me. He can spot it in my walk, in my facial expressions, in the tone of my voice. I played it off for as long as I could when he got home, but I finally had to confess. Thankfully, he found it more humorous than anything. He’s a very understanding man.  

Hiding things in your marriage isn’t being truthful with your spouse. Hiding things only hurts both of you. It hurts your communication, hurts your trust, hurts your ability to be open with the one person you’re supposed to be the most open with.

2. Make excuses

But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” – Genesis 3:9-10 (ESV) 

Instead of just admitting that they had eaten from the forbidden fruit, Adam says he was afraid because he was naked. While, I’m sure he was afraid, he didn’t just come out and confess the root problem instead he focused on their nakedness, something they wouldn’t have known had they not eaten the fruit. Making excuses gets us nowhere because the truth will eventually come out. Evidence and circumstances will lead to it. Also, people –especially our spouse– usually know when we are making excuses. Excuses always sound like an excuse. Excuses only hurt your marriage. Excuses spread distrust, spread lies, and divide a couple. Marriage and life is hard enough from the outside. Excuses divide a couple from the inside. 

3. Blame 

He (GOD) said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree which I commanded you not to eat? The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate”. Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” Genesis 3:11-13 (ESV, Parenthesis, mine)

Adam blamed Eve; Eve blamed the serpent. 

I know we are all guilty of this. It’s too easy not to blame the other person. Somehow, it’s always someone else’s fault in marriage. Your spouse makes you angry, so you react. Your spouse doesn’t listen to you. Your spouse doesn’t talk to you. Your spouse is too consumed in his life. Everything in your marriage is your spouse’s fault. I’m sure they are doing something wrong, but I assure you that you aren’t an angel. You are responsible for your own actions. You are responsible for your reactions. Instead of blaming your spouse next time a problem crops up, reflect on your reaction. Reflect on what caused the problem to begin with. What part did you play? If you both blame the other, you aren’t going to get anywhere. 

 

We are all going to fail. Don’t live under the illusion that you’ll have the perfect marriage. Instead, know how to handle failure when it happens. Don’t hide. Don’t make excuses. Don’t blame. Be honest with yourself and be honest with your spouse. Confess not only to each other but to God. Learn from your failures. Grow through your failures. Love one another through your failures. Encourage one another when you fail. Finally, remember that you BOTH are failures, and let that spurn you towards grace with one another. And, please, be thankful for one another.

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(Photo by Katie Moore, 2011)

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