"He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure." Psalm 40:2

But we’re NOT disjointed! {Marriage Monday}

In the last post, I discussed an illustration Richard Baxter made about lack of love in marriage. He compared marriage to a human body, and lack of love in marriage to that body having a bone out of joint. Here is what he said:

“If love be removed but for an hour between husband and wife, they are so long as a bone out of joint; there is no ease, no order, no work well done, till they are restored and set in joint again. Therefore be sure that conjugal love be constantly maintained.”*

After some discussion and contemplation over the week, I’d like to toss out my two cents on a few related points:

1.) Lack of love can be manifested in many ways.

A marriage need not be completely devoid of love, or hopelessly on the brink of divorce, to be considered disjointed. Times of disharmony, lack of affection, and disunity are all disjointed times to some degree.

Lack of love is the opposite of biblical love (see 1 Corinthians 13). A marriage that lacks love is therefore characterized during those disjointed times by impatience, unkindness, jealousy, boasting, arrogance, rudeness, irritation, and/or resentment. Those lacking love rejoice at wrongdoing and do not rejoice in the truth. Those lacking love don’t bear, believe, hope or endure all things.

So, until reconciliation occurs, a marriage relationship is disjointed to some degree during any season of impatient, snippy, irritated comments. It’s disjointed if one spouse is perpetually arrogant, though conflict is avoided by both. It’s disjointed if one spouse rejoices in wrongdoing, or rejects the truth. It’s disjointed when spouses are hurtful and unkind with their words, even if in jest, or even if not directly to one another but to others around them.

My point being this: we must not pridefully claim to walk in perfect marital harmony just because our marriage isn’t engaged in all-out war or on the brink of disaster.

Lack of love, or having a proverbial bone out of joint, is as simple as resenting your spouse because you wash the dishes every night and he doesn’t. That doesn’t necessarily spell disaster, but it does impair the relationship until it is dealt with, however small that impairment may seem.

This is one reason Baxter said that such negative effects are there “if love be removed but for an hour between husband and wife”. In this fallen world, these little dislocations happen frequently — that’s why we must work to maintain our marital love.

2.) If one is used to being in joint, it is extremely noticeable when one’s bone comes out of joint.

I recently re-injured my back…it was extremely noticeable!! I had finally reached the point in physical therapy and recovery that for months I had felt no discomfort whatsoever, so when the re-injury occurred, I noticed immediately. Before my recent recovery, my back had hurt pretty much all the time for over a decade. I had grown used to the ‘normal’ amount of pain I felt every waking moment, and only really took note of the ‘very bad’ days on which the pain was debilitating.

Couples who are used to living in harmony most days – who have learned to be patient with one another, strive to be kind, put their spouse first – are usually quick to recognize the pain of a dislocation.

(Now, I don’t mean spouses who are immature and selfishly sensitive to ‘every little thing’, intended or not – and rail at their spouse with accusations. I mean spouses who, after a seemingly small disagreement or comment, feel the resulting disharmony – and, longing for reconciliation, immediately seek the help of the Great Physician, admit their wrongdoing, talk about what needs to be talked about, forgive, and by God’s grace walk forward with their spouse in harmony once again.)

Conversely, couples who live in a perpetually disjointed relationship often only take notice of extremely painful dislocations, ignoring, dismissing, or even no longer noticing the less severe disharmony which they have accepted as ‘normal’.

3.) “Getting used to” being out of joint is ridiculous.

Imagine that your best friend dislocates her right elbow. Maybe someone caused it – or maybe she caused it herself. Regardless, the next time you see her, the bottom half of her right arm dangles loosely from its joint. You can see that the dislocation causes her great pain, and you know that if it is left out of joint physical complications can occur. You urge her to go to the doctor. You even offer to drive her to the E.R. immediately.

Yet, astonishingly, she refuses to seek medical attention. She admits that it is out of joint, and painful, but argues that the injury is no big deal. She adapts her life to what she has accepted as a disability, avoiding tasks and positions that bump or move her arm and cause pain in that area. She learns to write with her left hand. She finds a way to lie in bed just right so that the pain doesn’t keep her awake.

She complains often about the pain, understandably, but she blames her responsibilities for making her elbow hurt so. The laundry, the cooking, and the driving…they all cause such sharp pain in her elbow. Yet, she still refuses medical attention — even denying at times that the dislocation itself could actually be causing the pain.

After enduring the pain for many months, she reaches the point that she concedes that this dislocation was, indeed, a bigger deal than she thought. To your bewilderment, she continues to refuse medical attention! Now she argues that the dislocation will be too difficult for a doctor to treat, and that even if a doctor could treat her, the treatment would be too painful.

Ridiculous, isn’t it??

Yet, how many times do married couples living with a disjointed, loveless (at least to some degree in some area) relationship do this very thing?

– Dismiss a proverbial bone out of joint as no big deal.

– Refuse to go to the Physician for help.

– Avoid certain topics of conversation, because those topics might aggravate the dislocation.

– Avoid certain places, situations, or interactions with each other, because they might aggravate the dislocation.

– Blame the pain on everything that aggravates the dislocation, or reminds them of the dislocation, or might have been around when the dislocation occurred — while pretending like the dislocation isn’t there, or isn’t the cause of their suffering.

– Refuse to go to the Physician for help.

– Insist that the pain and symptoms aren’t problems at all, and that they don’t indicate that a dislocation is present.

– Refuse to go to the Physician for help.

– Invent creative ways to live their life so that they can try to pretend the injury never happened.

– Insist that the Physician can’t help, or that even if He could, the process would be too painful.

– Refuse to go to the Physician for help

Ridiculous. Foolish. Heartbreaking.

4.) Dislocations require medical attention, and the Great Physician can help.

No amount of self-help books, positive affirmations, pep-talks, denial, venting sessions with friends, yoga, screaming sessions, pillow-punching, chocolate, or even good old-fashioned resolve will heal a disjointed relationship. Nor will they give you a new heart. Nor will they enable you to truly walk in love. There isn’t an at-home, do-it-yourself quick-fix for sin and its effects, and striving to find or make one will leave you defeated. Because of Common Grace, some of these things might yield some temporary external results, but true healing comes only through Christ.

Only Christ, who saves us from the punishment of sin, can save us from sin’s power. Only His grace, poured out on believers by the Holy Spirit, can turn our hearts of stone to hearts of flesh, stirring a new desire to follow His ways – to love the Lord our God with everything in us and love our neighbor (and our spouse) like we love ourselves.

If you don’t know Him, you can turn to Him now.

If you have rejected Him, you can turn to Him now.

{If you don’t know what I mean, or want to discuss what it means to turn to Christ, email me: drawnfromthemire (at) gmail (dot) com}

If you know Him, if you are His child who is born-again by the power of the Spirit through repentance and faith in Christ’s sacrifice for you, then you have been provided far more than freedom from the eternal punishment of sin!

You are now able to abide in Christ, wear the Armor of God, and by His power and grace overcome sin in your heart and life. You are now able to pray for wisdom, pore over the Word, and joyfully receive its Truth and direction in your heart. You have a Great Physician ready to help. Ready to put bones back into place. Ready to nurture you and your marriage so that both bear good fruit to His glory.

Disjointed? Run to Jesus.

*Baxter, R., & Orme, W. (1830). The Practical Works of the Rev. Richard Baxter: Volume IV (117). London: James Duncan.

Catch up with us! Other posts in this series include: As the Hand is to Help the Eye and As a Bone Out of Joint. You can also read all posts on marriage here.

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