Is There An Elephant in the Room?
My wife Joleen and I spent a lot of time, energy and money in the early 2000s flipping houses. We would buy outdated houses that were located in a good neighborhood, modernize them, then sell them for a profit. Now, we were not like the people you see on television today who remodel homes from top to bottom in six weeks. We didn’t move walls; we just gave aging homes new paint (interior and exterior), flooring, lighting, appliances, and plumbing fixtures. Giving a home a facelift is a lot of work, but it was what we had to do to keep moving up in the booming housing market.
I learned three valuable lessons when we were flipping houses: First, I learned you have to do most of the work yourself if you want to make money on a remodel. Second, I learned YouTube was the place to go to learn… everything! Third, I learned you have to pay attention to details.
One day, I decided to put a new faucet on the sink in the guest bathroom of our 3rd project house. I wanted to get rid of the two-toned (gold/silver) faucet because it leaked and dated the bathroom. At the same time, I wanted to put all new pipes and water lines under the sink because the old pipes and water lines looked – old. After studying the instructions on the faucet packaging with a magnifying glass for a few minutes, I rolled up my sleeves and got busy removing the old faucet and downspout. Then, I crawled inside the vanity under the sink and separated the downspout from the curved drain pipe, which is commonly referred to as the pee trap. (The pee trap holds water in its curve so smells cannot come back up from the drain.) But, after I separated the pee trap from the pipe coming out of the wall, I realized that I could not wiggle out of the vanity without spilling nasty pee trap water all over me. (I was 6’3” and 200 pounds at the time.) Since I was alone and I couldn’t reach the wastebasket on the other side of the toilet, I decided to just reach over the vanity and pour the contents from the pee trap pipe into the sink. My thought at the time was, “I’ll use a cup to bail the water out of the sink after I finish installing the water lines.” So… I reached up over the vanity and poured the nasty pee trap water into the sink. The water of course quickly flowed down the sink through the hole where the downspout used to be and poured onto my face.
Yeah, yeah, I know what you’re thinking, “What an idiot!” “Didn’t he see the hole above his head where the downspout used to be?” No, I didn’t. I didn’t see the problem in front of me because I was too busy trying to complete my Saturday morning home improvement project.
Okay, if you’re done laughing at me, let me ask you a question. Do you have any elephant-sized issues standing in the middle of your marriage? I’m asking because I counsel lots of couples who cannot see the size of their marriage problems. As a pastor/marriage counselor, I am constantly pointing out to blind married couples that there are big issues destroying their marriage. I have had to notify couples that hiding money from each other is wrong and shows they have severe trust issues in their relationship. I have had to point out to couples who have not had sex for months that they were living in sin and their lack of intimacy shows they have severe issues in their relationship. And, I have had to teach couples who were regularly using harmful words and actions to demean each other that they have anger and bitterness brewing in their hearts. I have to alert couples all the time that their inappropriate actions are bright red flashing lights and sirens screaming, “Your relationship needs attention!” In truth, half the couples I counsel are oblivious to the elephant-sized problems hurting their marriage!
What do you need to do if you have an elephant-sized problem standing in the middle of your marriage?
1st – You need to acknowledge your marriage has problems.
In reality, marriage problems (like elephants) are big, noisy, stinky, time and space consuming things. They are not difficult to see if you open your eyes, ears, and noses to what is going on in your home.
2nd – You need to own your sins and ask for forgiveness.
3rd – You need to repent of your lifestyle. The word repent is a legal term that means “to turn around and go in the other direction.” If you have been using hurtful words and actions to hurt you mate, you need to stop and make a commitment to live a different way.
“Don’t (no longer) use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” Ephesians 4:29 NLT
4th – You need to learn how to put the right stuff into your relationship.
Many couples I counsel believe they will have a happy marriage if they can get rid of their problems. I have to explain to them that they will never get rid of their problems until they create a relationship that is not conducive to marriage problems. Married couples who spend all their time trying to push the problems out of their relationship get tired and frustrated. You can’t push an elephant out of a room! That’s why I tell couples to focus their time and energy on creating a relationship that elephants don’t want to live in. In short, great marriages are not built by just removing problems. Great marriages are built by couples who are committed to practicing marriage building habits.
If you’re considering marriage, or you want to know how to improve your marriage, I encourage you to purchase a copy of my book: The 10 Habits of Magnificent Marriages. It is available in paperback or eBook through Amazon.