I’ll never claim to be an expert on all things marital. After all, my first union ended in divorce, and while it wasn’t by choice of my own at the time, I take full credit for the plethora of mistakes I made that first time around. So as a woman whose first marriage failed I’d like to think I learned something from such a regrettable situation. I could come up with a great big handful of specific circumstances that most likely led to the demise of my first marriage, but let’s just be honest and roll it all up into one truth enchilada. In the end it comes down to two people who weren’t living for and/or serving God. End of story. Sure there’s a lot I left out in the middle, but from the beginning, all the way to the bitter end, my unhappy marriage was due to both people not having their eyes on Jesus.
Many times when you see unhappy marriages you can pinpoint the very same cause as the culprit for my divorce. One or both people aren’t serving the Lord. The fact is if you are serving Jesus it will serve your marriage. A lot of strife in marriage is brought in on the back of selfishness. One partner will become fixated on how the relationship isn’t meeting their needs. They will focus on how the other person is failing. They will cultivate the thoughts in their minds of how their partner isn’t carrying their load. It becomes a fixation on me.
He isn’t paying attention to me.
She doesn’t understand me.
He isn’t providing for me.
She isn’t satisfying me.
And on and on. Me, me, me.
Remember when I said the key to a happy, healthy marriage is serving Jesus? That’s because as you serve Jesus you will learn that He was a servant. You’ll begin to understand that serving others is the only way to truly love. Husbands will see to serve is to lead, and wives will see that to serve is to be equal. To serve is the only way to be served. Sound crazy?
Mark 9:35 (NIV)
35 Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.”
When Jesus hung on the cross in pain He could have called a host of angel armies to come to His aid, but instead He chose to serve man. He chose to forgive, and He chose to give of Himself. He now reigns in all power and all glory forever and ever. He conquered death, is loved by more people than you can imagine, and will still be loved by more than you can fathom. He died alongside criminals, but He is ruler of heaven and earth. He served out of love, serves us still in love, and desires we follow His lead. The great part is that by doing so we are rewarded with a fulfilling, joyous life. Try it and see.
In my second marriage I dedicated my life to serving God and my husband did the same. We love one another very deeply, but above all we love the Lord. Each day we live for Jesus, and somehow that can’t help but bleed into our marriage. We see one another with the eyes our Savior gives us, and we follow God’s word in how we treat one another. I’m not saying every day is like a dream. I just snapped at my husband this very morning when I took something he said as offensive to me! I got mad. Then he got mad. Then we apologized, we forgave, we moved on. Marriage isn’t easy, but it’s not that hard either; not as hard as we make it anyway. I’m no expert, but I am learning as I go, and I love sharing what God shows me.
I can honestly say that each and every single day I love my husband more than I did the day before, but I truly think it has everything to do with the fact that each day I also grow closer to the Lord. I believe it goes hand in hand. I believe that in most relationships of this world that we can have a clearer understanding of the other person when we try to see them like Jesus. I think most relationships will flourish when we walk in the fruits of the spirit. I think more marriages would survive if we served our spouse and Jesus alike, and I think we’d experience less hurt and misunderstanding in our relationship with our spouse if we tried to see them like God does.
You have to pray for your spouse, but you have to pray that God will lead them to a closer walk with Him. You have to pray that God does His will in your spouse’s life, not your will. Then you have to pray for yourself. You have to pray that God can make you a better partner, that God can use you to lift up your spouse, not the other way around. That just happens in a reciprocal relationship. You shouldn’t have to pray that your spouse encourages you more. Encourage your spouse and see what happens. Become truthworthy yourself, then extend that trust outwards. See what happens. When you see something that makes you angry, take a breath, think of one thing you do that probably makes your spouse angry, then proceed. Consider that in marriage you’re in debt. You owe your spouse yourself. Now pay up. See if you don’t get more in return.
Yes, marriage is complex, but it’s also elementary. It’s the epitome of the Golden Rule you learned on the playground in first grade. It’s treating your partner the way you would wish to be treated. It’s not games or getting even. It’s actually loving someone more than you love yourself. It’s forgiveness because you know you’re not perfect either. It’s not unrealistic expectations. It’s a service of love, a service that pays you back in return without you having to ask. It’s loving someone just a fraction of how much Jesus loves you. It’s striving to love more each day. And sure, it’s not easy, but it’s not as hard as we try to make it either.