Most enter marriage expecting a lifelong love, and few are ready for the challenges that inevitably arise after the honeymoon phase. God designed marriage from the beginning to be a thriving partnership between the husband and wife with Himself as the core. It sounds beautiful, and it’s easy to say, but it is a challenge to live it out.
Most of us can identify with some of the following scenarios:
- You fell in love with your spouse because they made you feel good when you met them. Over the years, those initial feelings fade a bit, and now you want it back again because you know there must be something in your relationship you’re missing.
- You’re seeking a spark, a catalyst to connect you and your spouse on a deeper level that will re-energize your connection and drive your communication and commitment to one another.
- Your faith was weak or nonexistent when you first got married, but now it’s an integral part of your life. Your faith is supposed to be the center of your marriage, but your spouse isn’t where you are spiritually.
You may need to have a perspective shift so that you can see your marriage and your spouse through God’s eyes to rejuvenate your marriage relationship.
Nearly every couple wants to live happily ever after once they exchange rings and vows. We all have an innate desire to want happiness. But we often get distracted by the business of life, and we put our marriage relationship on autopilot. While our focus is on other things, we lose control and are often unaware of the direction our marriage begins to take.
Our Christian faith tells us that our marriages are meant to be a spiritual symbol of something bigger and more profound than we can even imagine. The bible starts off talking about marriage, and it ends talking about marriage. Marriage is a big deal; it’s a gift, and it’s God-given. So how can something so elevated, so divine, go so wrong, and get so far off-center?
When they first got married, many admit that they did it for all the wrong reasons, and many of those reasons might be selfish. If you had to answer the question, “Why did you marry your spouse?” You might be like me and begin listing things like: She has a lot of fantastic qualities. I love the way she looks. I thought she’d be a great mom. I loved how she thought and her outlook on life. She’s this way and that way and this way.
Declarations like this don’t sound terrible. But dig into those a little deeper. What am I saying with those affirmations for marrying my wife? I’m saying, “My life would be a better life if I marry this person.” In other words, how can this other person make my life better? It can be a little shocking to realize and admit that our selfishness is the foundation of our marriage. If God created marriage, and it’s clear from the bible that he did, we can all be confident that feeding our selfishness through marriage wasn’t His plan. If anything, it would be the opposite.
How can we shift our focus away from ourselves? Well, it takes a change in our perspective and then a whole lot of effort. That’s the work part.
So, let’s address the paradigm shift first. When we try to fulfill our desires and needs through another person, we will always be left wanting. There is only one person who can satisfy our needs, and that is Jesus. That’s the story of our Christian faith. He is the happiness we innately desire, and He is the fulfillment of that desire. No one can love you more than God first loved you. We have all that we need in Him. So, what’s the point of our marriage relationship? It’s to love another person as Christ loves us. It’s to reflect and radiate His love outward. The opposite of selfishness. No wonder so many marriages wither.
When we remind ourselves that God loves us and that love is our source of fulfillment, we can approach our marriage relationship appropriately. The next step is a determination to work at it every day. Give of ourselves toward the object of our love. We give whether the other sees it or not. It’s helping with the housework, fixing the dinner, addressing issues with one of the children, taking the lead when the other needs a break, participating in activities the other finds enjoyable even if you don’t, being sensitive to what the other values and offering those things to your spouse. It is elevating the needs of your spouse as your priority. I’m not kidding when I say this is hard work. A healthy and happy marriage is a result of hard work.
Is it worth the effort? That’s the ultimate question, and sadly, many couples conclude that their marriage is not worth the work required. What might change that opinion?
Well, I would suggest two things. The first is remembering that Jesus is our defense attorney. In other words, He pours forth grace, mercy, and forgiveness on us. He loved us when we were sinners, and we don’t deserve His love.
In the same way that Jesus sits at the defense table in our courtroom of life, I suggest you take your seat at your spouse’s defense table. Rather than listing out every shortcoming, ask yourself and God, “why might your spouse be the way your spouse is?” This consideration takes some pause, reflection, and even prayer. When we ask this question, we might be surprised at where it takes us. We may be able to identify our spouses’ hurts, humiliations, losses and griefs, regrets, fears, loneliness, and other wounds they might be carrying. When we see our spouse’s wounds, we can be a part of the healing rather than condemnation. When we sit in defense of our spouse rather than as their prosecutor, we can see the worth of putting forth an effort to heal our marriage relationship.
The second suggestion is to remember that you are married to a child of God. Just as God loves you, your spouse shares that same relationship, and all your fulfillment and happiness are found in that relationship. None of us, in a worldly sense, are always worthy of being loved. However, God has called each of us by name, your spouse included. If your relationship with God Almighty is reciprocal and you seek Him as He seeks you, then your spouse is worth the effort. You’ll give of yourself for your spouse because your relationship with your Creator is that important.