The book Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst is a humorous children’s story about a boy named Alexander who has “one of those days.” Nothing, I mean nothing, goes right for him. From the time he pops out of bed in the morning, until he crawls back into bed that night, his day stinks. This poor little guy falls, spills, trips, crashes, and encounters one interrupting, aggravating circumstance after another. In fact, as the story progresses, he begins to say, “I think I’ll move to Australia,” believing that life in Australia would be much better. It’s one of those days that Alexander hopes to never, ever have again.

Most of us have been there, done that.  And if you have been married you probably had one of those days as well when you it seemed that no matter what you tried to do, where you may have gone, or the choices you made, the day simply went from bad to worse. Australia wouldn’t be any better, but on those days, anywhere but where you are would seem preferable.

Wouldn’t it be nice if every couple could experience a model marriage filled with peace and joy? That is usually our expectation when we say, “I do.” But, the simple truth is that at some point, in some way, our ideal picture of marriage will be shattered by the reality of being married. The idyllic picture usually does not include flat tires, dirty diapers, broken water pipes, bad employers, over due bills and the arguments that can accompany those things. However, all these things are part of the reality of life, but often jar our reality when such realities barge in like a raging bull. Every marriage experiences trials. In some cases, disappointments linger. And inevitably, joy can slowly languish.

In the series You and Me, I have tried to give you some practical things to consider in your marriage. The thread throughout the series was marriages where God is an active member of the relationship will survive Alexander type days time and time again. In this blog article I would like to give you a few more practical tools for marriage as outlined in Proverbs 24:3-4: “By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures.”

Wisdom in this verse means seeing with a little clarity. It suggests seeing the big picture rather than the piece of the puzzle that doesn’t seem to fit at the moment.  When you choose to look at the big picture rather than the petty details, you build a strong foundation.

“By understanding it is established . . .” If wisdom is seeing with clarity, then this second piece is how you respond. I’ve seen marriages where men and woman seem to be constantly irritated by their mates. And it is usually small things, at least from my vantage point. Things like a  wrong word, a simple oversight or a forgotten request causes miniature explosions throughout the day. These little things can be the result of keeping a record of wrongs.  If you find that your mate irritates you for reasons that you must admit are minor, the chances are good that he or she has something on the wrong side of your ledger sheet. With understanding, an irritation I would normally take personally, I don’t take personally any longer. I will see it as God sees it, as good or necessary for me as part of His plan for me.

“Through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures.” Knowledge implies an empathy that comes with learning. Growing in knowledge of my spouse means  I am listening. I am learning. I am open. When knowledge is combined with wisdom and understanding, Proverbs says, fill your home with precious and pleasant riches. It does not mean more “stuff” or “things. It means God’s riches.  It means your marriage relationship won’t be harmed during the Alexander days in your marriage.

Before you run to your spouse to tell them that Marty thinks you need wisdom, understanding and more empathy if your marriage is going to succeed, remember that the place to start remodeling your marriage is with you. I believe that any marriage will be better if both spouses have wisdom, understanding, and knowledge, or is working toward that end. Start by asking God, the Architect of marriage, to build within you a heart of wisdom, knowledge, and understanding for your mate.

Some last food for thought concerning You and Me. Wouldn’t it be nice if once we decided to get serious about dating, we developed a complete list of questions that needed to be answered completely before you continue dating. And when you decide to get married, have another set of questions that need to be answered before you walk down the aisle. And then a third set of questions before you have kids. The goal is to answer all questions, concerns or doubts we may have about dating, marriage and having children. If we were to do this, we would be dateless, spouseless and/or childless.

Do we do this with God, our Creator?  Questions, concerns, or doubts are the barrier(s) that prevent us from making a personal connection with God. We believe in some things without understanding everything about them, but with other things we feel like we need a complete explanation. You don’t have to understand everything to believe in something. At some point you need to “take a leap of faith” and push past your questions and doubts and trust in your Savior and His plan for your life and your marriage.

Even on those Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Days.