There’s a story I heard once about a married couple standing before an altar preparing to say their vows. Each of them thinks about the fresh start that marriage will bring. An unseen line of suitcases, backpacks and laptops trail behind them, representing all of the past relational and emotional baggage they are bringing into the marriage.
Destructive habits, selfishness, low self-esteem, and an inability to communicate are all examples of the excess baggage we may bring into a marriage. Excess baggage causes problems because we start new relationships with emotional and relational weaknesses that prevent us from serving our wives.
We begin to accumulate excess baggage because of the devastation brought to relationships and marriages by hardness of heart, a root cause for much of the world’s brokenness (Mark 3:5). Oftentimes the hardness of heart in past relationships damages us and provides the unhealthy patterns we bring to our marriages as excess baggage.
Sometimes there is no easily identifiable single sin that brings down a marriage. Instead, a marriage weighed down by the excess baggage of unhealthy, sinful attitudes reaches a tipping point and the relationship is crushed.
Even in the best of marriages, each spouse brings wrong attitudes and unrealistic expectations learned in the developing years. Children who experience a home with addiction, physical abuse or divorce face higher hurdles in having healthy relationships of their own. Statistically, at least one marriage partner today will come from a divorced family.*
Even if it’s done unintentionally, people who are hurt tend to hurt others. Unless we break the cycles and patterns of brokenness in our relationships, we’ll only make things worse. The good news is that there is hope.
Prayer joined with professional and pastoral counseling can help us work through our excess baggage that hinders us so that we can develop healthy relationships. Husbands and wives each bring problems into relationships. We can all admit the simple fact that “I’ve got problems. You’ve got problems… All God’s children got problems.” With this honesty and a soft heart, we don’t have to spend the rest of our lives weighed down by our baggage—no matter how much of it we have.
Editor’s Note: If you don’t have a copy of Glenn’s new book on marriage, grab it today!