Coach Petrino married a woman he loved, he got very busy at work, he became very successful at work – and he fell.
We measure successful as men primarily by how we are doing at work. One of the first three questions we tend to ask other men when we first meet them is – what do you do? Something in us compels us to size one another up by comparing ourselves. If our new friend says he is a heart surgeon, something dies inside us and we feel lessened for “only” being a teacher, or a salesman. If he says he is a _________ (whatever you feel is a lesser vocation than your own), we then feel rather successful and good about ourselves.
For years, early in our marriage, I drove the family station wagon to work. I can still vividly remember looking the other direction (to avoid being recognized) when I saw a business acquaintance driving his new BMW, or Mercedes – or parking blocks away to attend a sales meeting so no one would see me arriving in my wagon. I felt inferior; second-class; unsuccessful. I was focused on my business image and success, and simply assumed my marriage was fine, and my wife understands and appreciates all my hard work. These were not healthy, or accurate, assumptions.
Sadly, a husband’s typical standard for success is not how well his marriage is doing, how fulfilled his wife is, or how much his marriage glorifies God.
My guess is, that Coach P. would have told us last month that his marriage was “fine”, or “okay”. That tends to be our pat answer when asked. My hunch is that Mrs. P. would not have answered the same way. Chances are, there have been some issues in their home that have gone unaddressed ( working too many hours, lack of emotional or physical intimacy, etc.) Most successful college coaches, or salesmen, or businessmen, have had to sacrifice something to get where they are, and typically that is their marriage/family. Again – this is purely conjecture on my part, but affairs and “inappropriate relationships” typically don’t begin if everyone is fulfilled at home, and deliberately working on having a successful marriage.
Point is – like many men (myself included) we get focused on our careers, and/or those things where we find some success at in life. If we are a pretty good golfer, or fisherman/hunter – we tend to spend extra time doing that – because we like it – it makes us feel good at something – ie: successful. And, we desperately need to feel successful at something. If we don’t feel successful at home, we tend to avoid home, or escape to the TV or computer when we are home. If our wife only reminds us of our failure as a husband or father, we retreat further into work, hobbies, fantasy or something else.
I Corinthians 7:33 tells us that our number 1 priority in this life (other than our walk with God) is to “please our wife”. The area where we should be striving to be the most successful is our marriage. We want a winning coach for our college football team. We demand he win, or we want a new one. We don’t want the Independence Bowl – we want a BCS Bowl, and preferably a Championship. But what do we want for our marriage? Many of us settle for an “okay” marriage. We settle for a lesser “Bowl” because we don’t want to pay the price to make it to the big dance.
Lesson 2: Let’s put our marriage back on the top of the priority list. It is infinitely more important than our career, friends, hobbies or even ministries. God created us with a strong desire to succeed. He also created marriage as the first, and foremost human relationship. It is in marriage that we are to find our greatest success.
As the “coach” of your marriage – do you care about your ranking? Are you Bowl eligible? Are you playing for the championship?