“We have to stop asking of marriage what God never designed it to give: perfect happiness, conflict-free living, and idolatrous obsession”.
Instead, we can learn to appreciate what God designed marriage to provide: partnership, spiritual intimacy and the ability to pursue God together. So, what is the most common misconception Christians have about marriage?
“Finding a ‘soul mate’ — someone who will complete us”.
The problem with looking to another human to complete us is that, (spiritually speaking) it’s idolatry. We are to find our fulfillment and purpose in God . . . and if we expect our spouse to be ‘God’ to us, he or she will fail every day. No person can live up to such expectations.
Everyone has bad days, yells at his or her spouse, or is downright selfish. Despite these imperfections, God created the husband and wife to steer each other in His direction.
When my husband forgives me . . . and accepts me, I learn to receive God’s forgiveness and acceptance as well. In that moment, he is modeling God to me, revealing God’s mercy to me, and helping me to see with my own eyes a very real spiritual reality.”
While it’s easy to see why God designed an “other-centered” union for a “me-centered” world, living that way is a challenge.
So when bills pile up, communication breaks down and you’re just plain irritated with your husband or wife, these reminders are to help ease the tension:
God created marriage as a loyal partnership between one man and one woman.
Marriage is the firmest foundation for building a family.
God designed sexual expression to help married couples build intimacy.
Marriage mirrors God’s covenant relationship with His people.
We see this last parallel throughout the Bible. For instance, Jesus refers to Himself as the “bridegroom” and to the kingdom of heaven as a “wedding banquet.”
These points demonstrate that God’s purposes for marriage extend far beyond personal happiness. Let me quickly clarify that God isn’t against happiness per se, but that marriage promotes even higher values.
“God did not create marriage just to give us a pleasant means of repopulating the world and providing a steady societal institution to raise children. He planted marriage among humans as yet another signpost pointing to His own eternal, spiritual existence.”
Serving Our Spouse
“He spends the entire evening at the office again.”
“She spends money without entering it in the checkbook.”
“He goes golfing instead of spending time with the children”.
From irritating habits to weighty issues that seem impossible to resolve, loving one’s spouse through the tough times isn’t easy. But the same struggles that drive us apart also shed light on what we value in marriage.
If happiness is our primary goal, we’ll get a divorce as soon as happiness seems to wane. If receiving love is our primary goal, we’ll dump our spouse as soon as they seem to be less attentive. But if we marry for the glory of God, to model His love and commitment to our children, and to reveal His witness to the world, divorce makes no sense.
Couples who’ve survived a potentially marriage-ending situation, such as infidelity or a life-threatening disease, may continue to battle years of built-up resentment, anger or bitterness.
So, what are the ways to strengthen a struggling relationship or even encourage a healthy one?
Let’s look at these practical tips:
Focus on your spouse’s strengths rather than their weaknesses.
Encourage rather than criticize.
Pray for your spouse instead of gossiping about them.
Learn and live what Christ teaches about relating to and loving others.
Young couples in particular can benefit from this advice. After all, many newlyweds aren’t adequately prepared to make the transition from seeing one another several times a week to suddenly sharing everything.
Definitely, annoying habits and less-than-appealing behaviors will surface. Yet as Christians, we are called to respect everyone including our spouse.
We need to learn how to ‘fall forward.’ That is, when we are frustrated or angry, instead of pulling back, we must still pursue our partner under God’s mercy and grace.
Lastly, we can pray this helpful prayer: Lord, how can I love my spouse today like he/she’s never been loved and will never be loved?
I can’t tell you how many times God has given me very practical advice. Its one prayer that I find gets answered just about every time.
While other marriage books may leave us feeling overwhelmed, spotlighting our shortcomings and providing pages of relationship homework, The Marriage Manual (The Bible) written by The Master Builder makes it clear that any couple can have a successful, happy and holy marriage.
With a Christ-centered relationship, an other-centered attitude and an unwavering commitment to making it work, your marriage can flourish — just as God designed.
- The 80/20 Rule (tivaniag.wordpress.com)
- Keys to a happy marriage: Things I wish I would have known when I was fifteen. (janelleevans.wordpress.com)