Marriage, according to the manufacturer’s intended purpose.

Someone commented, on another blogger’s site, about what qualifies as abuse. He didn’t believe yelling or arguing or any of the “normal” stuff qualified. Someone else claimed that flirting wasn’t cheating. I have a different opinion about all that.

“Except for use, other than the purpose designed for.” That’s the type of disclaimer found in most warranties and guarantees. It’s used when a manufacturer declares that they know something is likely to fail, when abused. They refuse to be held responsible, for us using something in a way they didn’t intend the product to be used.

Entering a new Cadillac into a demolition derby will void the warranty.
Cleaning your cell phone in the dishwasher voids the warranty.
Driving the new lawnmower into a lake will probably void the warranty.
Get the idea?

None of those things were designed to be used that way. The salesman probably didn’t suggest doing any of that. The owners manual doesn’t specify how to resolve the issues created from those actions. They were not designed to be used that way. Chances are, you didn’t plan to treat them that way when you took ownership.

The same principles apply within marriage.

Ephesians 5:25 tells me to love my wife like Christ loved the church. Selflessly, sacrificially, treating her as my highest priority. Loving, honoring and respecting her above everyone else. Not allowing anyone or anything to interfere with our relationship. That’s the manufacturers recommended purpose. That’s how God intended us to treat our wives.

I will bet that you probably started out like that. You probably had the highest intentions. You planned a long and happy life with her. You treated her with respect. You listened to whatever she had to say. You brought her tokens of affection like flowers and candy. You took her places and did things, just to make her happy. She agreed to marry you based on the way she was treated during the dating days.

You know… When you were perfect.

For someone to tell me that yelling doesn’t qualify as abuse, they are saying they don’t have a clue about marriage. To say flirting doesn’t count as cheating, is complete foolishness. In fact, here’s the hardest thing I was taught during marriage counseling.
“At the moment you do anything other than love, honor and cherish your wife; you have initiated the divorce process.”
That sounds extreme, right? But, before you get your undies all bunched up and hammer out that ridiculous email, just listen. For a moment, consider the possibility that you don’t know absolutely everything.

Life is a journey. Becoming Christlike is a journey. Maturing is a journey. We are all moving towards the people we will become. Good, bad or indifferent. It doesn’t matter. Every decision, every action, every outspoken opinion is taking you one step closer to the person you will be at the end. When your time runs out. Do you plan to finish well?

As married men, we are on the journey with our wives. Working together. Moving as one. Right? Wasn’t that the plan?

Imagine, since you are married and the two became one, that it means you have entered a lifelong three-legged race. Sure you do things independently, but you also work together. Even the independent actions serve the purpose of keeping you both up and moving forward. Taking a side step, or trying to step backwards affects both of you.

If your words, actions and decisions don’t continuously serve the purpose of keeping you both moving forward; you will go down.

Those guys who violently abuse their wives started out by disrespecting them. Beatings began as heated arguments and yelling. Physical abuse probably began with emotional abuse. Flirting doesn’t always end with an affair, but affairs don’t start without the flirting.

You are playing with fire, allowing yourself to justify the little actions and attitudes that transition into the killers. If you yell at your wife, you are taking the first steps towards abuse. If you flirt with other women, you are taking the first steps towards an affair. Each of those steps pulls you away from your wife. You have initiated the divorce process.

Entering a new Cadillac in demolition derby is guaranteed to destroy it. Neglecting the maintenance, the daily needs, will eventually destroy it, too. One may be more damaging than the other, but both end with the car in the junkyard. One just works faster. You might not hit her or cheat on her, but neglect is still abuse.

The plan, for your marriage, was a long and wonderful life together. Making dreams come true. Chasing life, side by side. Helping each other become all that God intended you to be. That’s forward movement. That’s what you want to happen.

That’s not what will happen if you don’t follow the manufacturer’s plan. Love your wife like Christ loves the church. Become that Christlike man. Make her the most important person in your life. Treat her like the gift from God that she is. Love, honor and cherish her every day. Just like Christ gave everything for His bride, we get to do the same. She is our mission, our purpose. Everything else is second to her. She is your first ministry.

That is the purpose you were designed for, Mr. Married Man.

If you don’t know what qualifies as abuse, read this.

If you aren’t living the good life now, may I recommend an amazing book.
21 Days to Save my Family.
Get it, read it, live it.

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