CAN a rocky marriage be saved by prayer? I learned that the answer is yes. But it helps greatly when the prayer has a scientific basis; that is, when both partners strive to lift thought from the merely conventional, material view of each other to the spiritual view, the true view. When husband and wife are resolutely determined to see each other more as God knows and has created them, good things begin to happen.
When my marriage was in deep trouble, I visited a Christian Science practitioner (one who devotes full time to helping others through prayer) and spilled out my dismal story. Among other things, I remember saying, ``The real problem is, her personality and my personality just don't fit together anymore.''
He replied, in effect: ``It isn't her personality and it isn't your personality that's causing the trouble. It's the worldly view you are accepting of each other, the carnal mind's view, claiming to be her and claiming to be you. You are like two puppets, responding to thoughts and impulses that don't come from divine Love at all.''
I'll never forget his parting words: ``Go home, for the Christ is waiting for you.''
As I drove home, it came to me sharply that the lack of pure, humble Christliness was what had been missing in our home. In truth, both of us were God's offspring, spiritual and perfect; yet we were very far from beholding each other from this Christly viewpoint. Each of us had been looking at life from the ``me'' standpoint. I had been thinking exclusively of what makes me happy or unhappy. If only she would change and be different, went this undermining argument, I would then be happier.
By the time I reached home I was a new man. I stopped a second before going into the house with the thought, ``The Christ is waiting there for me -- for us.''
Though at first there seemed to be no change, I felt such a new sense of peace and stability that I refused to be shaken. In the following days, through prayer in Christian Science, I was able to let the Christly viewpoint be in command in our home. I began to replace criticism, silent as well as verbal, with charity. I began to see each of us as the image and likeness of God, lovable and loved. I learned not to utter a stinging accusation, not to react with a hurtful reply.
Pretty soon, I found that my wife was as eager for the Christly approach to marriage as I was. We saw that we really did love and value each other. The spiritual viewpoint in our hearts recast our way of thinking and speaking and restored the love that had drawn us together in the first place -- and on an even higher basis.
That was thirty-five years ago. Peace began on a spiritual basis, not a fragile human one; and soon there was joy in our house. I became more demanding of myself as a husband, weighing my responses from the Christly standpoint rather than continuing to engage in the endless bat-tle of one-upmanship. Through prayer I came to realize that my real duty in the sight of God was to see my wife as He made her -- to follow Christ Jesus' example in being kind, patient, magnanimous, in thinking habitually in terms of how I could bring her joy. And her response was in kind.
There were to be other skirmishes, but they were less severe and shorter lasting until at last we were in harmony again. We learned to value each other, to cherish each other, to respect each other's opinions, to disagree without being disagreeable. Our marriage was permanently saved and healed.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes, ``No power can withstand divine Love.''1 Happiness in marriage -- true, lasting happiness -- comes from expressing the power of Love in thought and action; from expressing our God-derived joy and spiritual inspiration toward one another, not from getting. When we can behold in our mate the ideal man or ideal woman made in God's likeness, even when appearances insist on the opposite, we are giving each other the Christ-love, the dearest and most lasting gift of all.
1Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 224.
You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine. DAILY BIBLE VERSE: Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. I Corinthians 7:3