Ecclesiastes and advice on marriage – there is a time for everything
Dr. Dick Blackwell, trained in both psychotherapy and ministry, and I reflected on Ecclesiastes and making marriage work. My words are in black font and Dr. Blackwell’s insights are in purple.
Ecclesiastes tells us there is a time for everything – for every experience under heaven. The same holds true for marriage.
The text says everything and then proceeds to give lots of examples. And, if we truly believe that the text is a divinely inspired and living document, then everything today would mean there is a time for working and a time for playing; a time for career building and a time for family building. There is a time for being alone and a time for being together. There is, in truth, a time for marriage. In fact, there is a time for everything in marriage.
There is a time to talk — to share your gratitude and communicate your struggles — and there is a time to be silent and to listen fully and wholly to your partner.
Talking is scary — you have to share your fears and hope that they will be heard and accepted. And listening is hard — you have to stop talking, suspend judgement, and hear what is being said with the openness to the fact that the other is speaking their truth — you may hear what you most fear or least want to hear. But, the time for talking and being silent is all the time.
There is a time to hold hands and hug each other tightly and there is a time to give each other space — to be and to grow as individuals.
It is not the purpose of marriage that “two shall be as one”: it is the purpose of marriage that each shall unilaterally be present unto each other, that there shall be spaces between us but contacts that hold us together. And, again, the time for togetherness and space is all the time.
There is a time to tell your partner they are the best and there is a time to tell your partner they can be a bit better.
Marriage is a daily renewable contract, a partnership entered into voluntarily and recommitted to each day. It is a partnership based on trust, safety, and faith; based on trust that each will be truthful with the other; safety that each will do unto the other as they would have the other do unto them; and faith that love continues.
There is a time to hold the other accountable and there are many more times to forgive and let go. We are all imperfect human beings.
There is a time to laugh, lifting the simple moments and celebrations, and there is a time to cry – in response to the inevitable sorrows that life brings.
In the best of times and the hardest of times, laughter and tears are the fluids of life. Marriage brings with it, even in its most perfect iteration, the broadest range of emotions possible. We live them all or we hide from them all. Regardless, they all happen to us all the time.
There is a time to work — inside your home and out —and there is a time to play.
Too much of either denies the other. Marriage is hard work — too much “other” work erodes and corrupts marriage. We have to work at that work/life balance stuff all the time.
There is a time to plan for the future and there is a time to live fully in the present – appreciating the past that brought you to this day.
The great joy of marriage is that it is a choice. The great work of marriage is that it is a choice. We choose each other — daily. We choose to help each other grow to our own versions of our best selves. We choose to recognize that the time for marriage is all the time.
Dr. Richard Blackwell is a mostly retired therapist living in Charlotte. With extensive training in ministry and psychology, he brings a strong faith and facts stance to his work and his life. He is the proud father of 3 and grandfather of 7 and will attest to the truth of the text — there is a time to every purpose unto heaven.
Photo by Jessica Johnston.