Today is our 14th wedding anniversary so I thought it would be a perfect time to talk a little bit about marriage….
When I walked down the aisle on my wedding day, I was naive about a lot of things.
Marriage wasn’t one of them.
Any illusions I had about marriage ended with my parents’ divorce.
I knew marriage wouldn’t be easy. I knew it would take work.
I just didn’t know how much.
We don’t usually think about that when we’re planning our weddings, do we? We spend months planning one perfect day and a few brief counseling sessions preparing for the rest of them.
Fortunately, time can be a great teacher.
Over the last 14 years, my husband and I have learned a few things.
About each other.
I wish I could tell you that all this learning means I know more about marriage now than I did when we walked out of that church as man and wife, but to be honest, I often feel like I know much less.
Of course, all the space left by my lack of knowledge has left a little room for something better: wisdom.
Wisdom in marriage is learned through life and through listening. Not just to each other, but also to the Lord.
After all, there are many times when we’re at a loss.
We don’t know what to do, we’re not sure what to say, and regardless of the fact we’ve “become one flesh,” we’re still two distinctly different minds and personalities.
Fortunately, no matter how different we are, Jesus is always the same.
His word never changes, and it lights our way.
God’s word teaches us the way to live as married couples, and his Spirit provides the power we need to do it, transforming our hearts to look a bit more like His and helping us to act more like Him, too.
And that makes all the difference.
There are so many ways that following the example of Christ will improve our marriages, but today, I want to focus on seven of them.
I know that some of you may have cringed the moment you saw the word “submission.” It’s a touchy subject at times here in the the world of women’s lib, isn’t it?
It doesn’t have to be, and we can’t ignore it or work around it because God’s word commands it. So let’s see what the Word says.
Ephesians 5:21 says, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”
Did you read that? First and foremost, Ephesians says we must submit to each other. Husbands and wives.
We are to love and serve and submit to each other. We are to work together, but here’s the thing: every team needs a leader.
God has given that role to our husbands so Ephesians goes on to say, “Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church….” (Ephesians 5:22-23)
That can be hard, can’t it?
I’ve never been good at submitting to anything or anyone for that matter. Not my parents, not my teachers, not my friends.
Headstrong and not humble.
And very unlike Christ.
You see, he set the perfect example of submission. After all, he is the one who prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42)
Submission to our husbands starts with submission to Him.
As we seek Him, He will show us how to submit in every situation.
Because some situations are harder than others, aren’t they?
Sometimes our husbands won’t lead; other times, they’re leading in the wrong direction.
So what do we do?
Pray, listen, obey.
And, let Him make a way.
There are times when I simply have a sour attitude. I admit it.
I look for things to criticize, and instead of giving thanks, I complain.
My husband doesn’t do this; he forgets to do that. I don’t feel like my needs are being met so I mope.
And all the while, I forget that “the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve.” (Matthew 20:28)
In our marriages, we need to be the same way.
After all, 1 Peter 4:10 says, “Each of you should use whatever gifts you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”
Our service gives grace.
My husband needs it. Does yours?
Long days at work, responsibility, and worries all wear him down. Simple acts of service can lighten the load, but there’s no way to serve without…
Philippians 2:3-4 says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests, but each of you to the interest of the others.”
How many times do we struggle in our marriages because we’re always looking out for #1?
We’re worried about what’s in it for us.
So, we argue and fight.
All for a lack of humility.
After all, Proverbs 13:10 says, “Where there is strife, there is pride.”
Don’t you know it’s true? I know I do.
How many quarrels could we avoid if we simply swallowed our pride and let things go? What would it look like if we didn’t have to have our own way? How would “discussions” end if we were as intent on listening as we are on being heard?
Oh, our words. We know the power our tongues have.
In marriage, they can make or break it.
Proverbs 21:9 says it’s “better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.”
That’s the wife I don’t want to be.
I want to speak words that refresh, words that build up instead of break down.
Ephesians 4:29 says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouth, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
The thing is: our husbands aren’t the only ones listening.
If you have kids, they hear you, too.
What an example we set when we are kind to one another!
Perhaps the greatest example is one of….
There’s no getting around it: we will sin. Our husbands will, too.
We can spend our days keeping score, or we can offer the free gift of forgiveness.
If we’re going to model our lives and our marriages after Christ, the choice is obvious, isn’t it?
Colossians 3:13 says, “Bear with one another and forgive one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
Those who’ve gotten grace need to give it.
We also can’t move forward if we’re constantly looking back.
Love “keeps no record of wrongs.” (1 Corinthians 13:5)
And, love is what it’s all about anyway, right?
1 Peter 4:8 tells us, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins.”
It’s the way we make it from day to day, but don’t be deceived: we’re not talking roses and chocolates and fairy tales here.
We’re talking real love, but what does it look like?
“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ lay down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” (1 John 3:16)
Love is not a feeling; it’s a function.
It’s something you do.
“Let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” (1 John 3:18)
The thing is: it’s not always easy, this laying down of our own lives for another.
Jesus knows that better than anyone else.
His sacrifce has made our relationship with him possible. It has bridged the gap between us and “made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility.” (Ephesians 2:14)
When we follow his example, barriers in our marriages can come down, too.
Relationships can be restored.
Fellowship can be found.
Our unions can become unified.
Fourteen years in, we’re still working on it, but marriage, like discipleship, is daily. What about you? What wisdom have you gleaned through the years? Would you share some in the comments? I’d love to hear from you!
Also, I’d love to read some of your recent faith-filled posts! Add a link or two to this week’s Encouraging Word Wednesday link up below then visit some of the other links and leave an encouraging comment! I am sorry I didn’t get around to doing so last week. A stomach bug hit our house, and well, we’re still recovering. I do look forward to your posts each week and can’t wait to read more!