Marital adversity is something we all experience at one time or another. Today’s guest shares a wonderful story from history that can teach us an important lesson in marital adversity.
Burn Your Boats: A Lesson in Marital Adversity
When Alexander the Great arrived on the shores of Persia, he realized that he was hopelessly outnumbered. The Persian military far-outnumbered the Greeks and had the advantage of fighting on their home soil; their navy was known to have the most powerful naval fleet in the world at that time.
In spite of all these odds, Alexander gave an unexpected order: “Burn the boats!” As their only means of retreat went up in flames, legend has it that Alexander turned to his men and said, “We go home in Persian ships, or we die.” With no other means of retreat available, Alexander the Great lived up to his nickname as he led the Greeks to an amazing victory over the Persians.
Now, you may wonder what Alexander the Great’s conquest of Persia has to do with marriage, but in many ways marriage is a battle. The battle is not between husband and wife, but between the married couple and the world. When God joined Adam and Eve in holy matrimony, His intent was to make the two stronger than one alone. Marriage was never meant to be a burden. It was intended to be a constant help against the struggles of this world.
Have you ever committed to something half-heartedly? When I was young I wanted to take guitar lessons. I watched in awe as heavy metal guitarists wailed on their axe, and noticed how girls would swoon over any guy who could play a heartfelt acoustic solo around the campfire. So for Christmas when I was twelve years old, my parents gave me a guitar – one of those electric guitars with the speaker built into the body. I didn’t think much of it until I went to my first guitar lesson.
During the lesson we sat in a circle and each took a turn playing a chord that the teacher was teaching us. As I strummed my chord, it became apparent that my guitar sounded very different from the others that were plugged into amps; it was less powerful and more toy-like. I was embarrassed as the older boys chuckled when I played. That was my first and last guitar lesson.
For many of us, when we first hit some adversity in our marriage, we begin thinking of quitting. We begin romanticizing about past freedoms, past experiences, and finally about past relationships. When you have one foot on the shore and one still in the boat, it can be easy to turn back to what is known. It is for this reason that we must whole-heartedly commit to our spouses. We must “burn our boats.” There is no turning back.
When did the words “for better or worse, for richer or poorer, till death do us part” become optional? If you pay attention to those vows, you can see you actually commit to be married to this person even if things become worse! While that is never God’s intent and our flesh may war against that thought, let’s not forget that Jesus made the same vow to us, and He is has fulfilled His vow over and over again.
The enemy knows that any area in which are not fully committed to our spouse is an area to which he has access. A few weeks before our wedding, my wife and I “burned our boats” in a very literal way. We each found old pictures, letters, and keepsakes from previous relationships and put them in a box.
We then made a large bonfire and threw those things in the fire. As we watched the remnants of old relationships burn, we each made verbal commitments to each other. It was a beautiful symbolic moment where both of us turned from our past and committed to our future together.
So in what areas do you need to “burn your boats”? Do you need to burn some old keepsakes, put filters on your internet browser, make a joint Facebook page, or share all of your finances with a joint checking account? Whatever it may be, although hard to address, I know that the Lord always supports a married couple moving toward intimacy and not away from it.
Just like an animal is most committed to fight when backed into a corner, so we must be with our marriages. Leave no room for escape! Burn your boats and watch how God transforms your marriage for the better.
About the author:
Dr. Matthew Gilbert lives in Flower Mound, TX, where he is a chiropractor, husband to Rachael, and father of three energetic children. His passions include Jesus, marriage, and promoting health. When he is not treating patients, you can find him exercising, enjoying sports, or trying to find new ways to experience the outdoors.