In their ongoing articles on the theme of Marriage, this month Charles and Jane Perryman relate a Resurrection Story.
In all of the stories in the Gospels and Acts of the Apostles of Jesus’ appearances to the apostles after the resurrection, there is one that is not told. What must it have been like for Peter to meet Jesus for the first time after Jesus had risen from the dead?
In his book “The Reality of Jesus” Dermot Lane considers what really happened at the resurrection. He asks, and attempts to answer the question, “What kind of experience did the apostles have?” He tentatively comes to the conclusion that it was some kind of person-to-person transforming experience.
Greg and Janet have been married for fourteen years. Four years ago, out of the blue, Greg was made redundant from a well-paid post which he enjoyed and believed he was doing well. He was still in a state of shock when he was telling Janet what had happened and how devastated he felt. Janet, too, was shocked and upset but very rapidly started to plan for the new situation, talking brightly about how they would manage. From there the marriage went downhill. Greg gradually withdrew from Janet and she became increasingly persistent in trying to cheer Greg up and to reach him. Arguments became more frequent and angrier. Janet started to think about leaving but almost as a last resort she dragged Greg along to see a marriage counsellor.
In the course of the first few weeks with the counsellor it became apparent that for Greg the way Janet had responded to his redundancy had wounded him very deeply. He was feeling devastated and a carried a huge sense of failure. He needed to hear that Janet understood, to know that she did not see him as a failure, that she still believed in him. When Janet focussed on the practicalities and ignored his devastation, something in Greg died – his trust in Janet. At the very moment in all of their married life together that he needed her most, she was unable to support him.
Over the four years since Greg’s redundancy Janet had become increasingly frustrated at what she saw as Greg’s refusal to support her. Her anger flared time after time in a desperate attempt to be close to Greg again. It slowly emerged that when Greg told Janet that he had been made redundant she had panicked, a normal human reaction. She could see all of their hopes and dreams for the future in shreds. Her way of coping was to start to plan as far as she could for a new future. By doing that she kept her fears at bay. As the frequency and intensity of their rows increased, Greg and Janet became more lonely, sad and empty.
Even though Janet and Greg could soon understand what had happened between them when Greg had lost his job, by itself that was not enough to restore their trust. Greg needed to know that even when he felt like rubbish, when he judged himself to be a hopeless failure, when he saw himself as unlovable, that Janet still loved him and wanted him. That and that alone, would restore the lost trust and restore a felt sense of safety and security. When Janet was able to assure Greg that she had never stopped loving him and wanting him the marriage rose from the dead!
Not all examples of loss of trust in marriages are as dramatic as that of Greg and Janet. But each time we let our spouse down, each time we cause pain in the relationship, each time we act in a selfish way, the trust between us is damaged. Each time trust is restored, our marriage is brought back to life from the depths. Furthermore, just as the experience of the Risen Christ by the apostles enriched them and lifted them beyond who they had been before, so restoring damaged trust in a marriage strengthens it above where it had been.