Welcome back to Sincerely Adorned, Discipleship Online for Women. I’m Kristin Spencer, your host and sister in the faith.
This is my first official topic podcast, now that we are finished with introductions and my personal testimony, yay!
What Marriage Isn’t
There are quite a few weddings coming up in my family, and I know too many people that are struggling in their marriages because they had the wrong idea about what marriage actually is when they got married. So let me start out by saying, Lindsey and Christi, I love you both so much and I am praying for your marriages!! I am so excited for both of you and your future hubbies!
We live in a day and age when the concept of marriage has been twisted and spoiled. No, I am not going to talk about homosexual marriage. What I want to talk about today is how marriage has become an act of self-satisfaction thats ultimate goal is lacking the very essential meaning of marriage as God intended. Today I want to talk about what marriage isn’t.
Listen carefully, because if you enter into marriage thinking it is going to make your life happy and complete, you are absolutely wrong. If you have listened to my testimony, you know that I am happily married, but making myself happy wasn’t my motivation for getting married. My happiness is also not the reason my husband and I enjoy our marriage to each other so much. Jesus is the one that healed me and taught me how to be fully satisfied in Him alone. That is where my joy comes from.
Marriage Isn’t Instant Happiness
The purpose of marriage is not to make you happy. Wait, what?! Yes, I am going to spit in the face of every hollywood or literary idea of romance and love right now. That is happening. Whether you like it or not, I hope you will appreciate the reason I am going to disagree with the popular idea of what marriage is.
I’m going to start off by quoting one of the most unpopular verse about marriage in the bible. I believe that the reason this verse is so unpopular is because the complete meaning is not understood. Let’s dive in, shall we?
“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as also Christ is the head of the church, and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church.”
I know most women stop and recoil in disgust at verse 22. I once had a college aged woman ask me how I could ever submit to my husband when he wasn’t perfect the way Jesus is. My answer was simple, but true, because God told me to. But the task of submitting to my husband is a much easier task than the thing that God has called my husband to do for me. The other day we were doing marriage counseling and I had the privilege of hearing my husband say, “Hey listen, I know it is biblical for your wife to submit, but that is the easy part! Our responsibility is to love our wives like Christ loves the church! Now that is something that is difficult because we aren’t Christ. Our job is really the hard part. If we love our wives like Christ loves the church, it will be so much easier for them to submit to us.” I always think my husband is sexy, but I’m sure you can imagine that I found him incredibly sexy in this moment.
I digress… the point is, marriage is not about making yourself happy. Another human being will never be able to make you completely happy anyway. It is literally impossible. Only Jesus can do that. But it is also not a biblical idea that marriage is to make you happy. In the verses we just read we see that the purpose of marriage is to serve each other! That’s right, when you get married you are signing on for a life of putting someone else ahead of every personal need you have (more than one someone else if you plan on having children). You are agreeing to serve that other person selflessly and love them whether or not they make you happy. Happiness is not something we agree to even in traditional wedding vows. We don’t say, “I promise to love you if you make me happy,” do we?
I’m not saying that every marriage is miserable and absent of happiness, but what I am saying is that your happiness is not a good reason to get married. You should get married because God has told you to, and because you sincerely want to serve the person you are marrying for the rest of your life. A few weeks ago I was hanging out with two women that I love so much. One is married and one is single, and my married friend and I were commenting about how we don’t purchase things without our husbands’ approval but then they tell us we should have bought things while we were out. It is one of those things that is funny if you are married. My married friend said, “It is still worth it to have them around,” or something like that and our single friend said, “But is it really?” Some of you might think, yikes, what a cynical person. But you know what? She was not being cynical. She was asking an honest question. If marriage is so difficult and you have to put someone above yourself in such a sacrificial way, is marriage really worth it? If God has called you to be married (another post about this is coming later) and your husband loves Jesus more than he loves you, than the simple answer is, yes! I am so blessed by my husband. He is the missing puzzle piece I needed in my life. Just today he was telling our friend that me makes me do things, and it’s good for me. It wasn’t with a dictator attitude or anything like that. He said it in a joking manner, but what he said was one hundred percent true! I can be extremely introverted, and living in an unfamiliar culture only exacerbates this personality trait. Travis is extremely outgoing and he pushes me out of my comfort zone, which I appreciate. I am a missionary after all. Can you image what it would be like if he never poked or prodded me to go out and do things… “Oh yeah, I’m a missionary, but I mostly stay inside my house and avoid talking to people.” That would not be good, to say the least.
I will also say that God knows what is doing, because when you serve someone, and they serve you, a very natural consequence is deep and devoted love for one another. That is why the Love Dare was so popular and helped so many couples. It helped married individuals to place their spouse’s needs and desires above their own. The natural response to that is caring affection and reciprocation. I’m not saying that will always be the case, but even if your spouse doesn’t respond positively to your service on their behalf, God sees your heart. You know the old saying, you get more flies with honey than with vinegar. It is so true!
I absolutely love my husband, and I show him by serving him in different ways. Sometimes that means sitting and eating a few cookies with him that I will have to bike off later (eating treats together is one of his love languages, for sure). He loves me and serves me by doing different things that he knows I appreciate, like washing the dishes or vacuuming. He prays for me! He changes diapers. Listen, I’m not saying we never fight, or that my husband is a super husband. But we love each other and we put each other above our own needs. We still spend hours laughing together until our faces hurt. He is my best friend in so many ways. He is also my covering, and when I do dumb things and sin, he compassionately reminds me what I should and shouldn’t do. When you follow God’s instructions regarding marriage, you will have a blessed marriage. I’m not saying that trials won’t come, but that you will face them together, drawing closer to Christ through each one.
Marriage Isn’t Your Only Purpose In Life
Sometimes God tells us what our life vision will be before we get married, in my life that was the case. But sometimes God doesn’t tell us until after. That does not mean that whatever your spouse is called to automatically becomes your personal calling!! God has His timing and He works things out. Many times I have seen young couples that God called to marry each other. They did not necessarily know what each of their callings were individually, but God worked it out. On the other side I have seen young couples that already knew their personal callings, which did not match up in any way, and they got married anyway and caused each other a lot of strife. I’m not saying God couldn’t work in or bless their marriages, but everyone else saw that God was blessing one of them in a particular gifting or ministry, and then their marriage pulled them away from that. It is a bummer.
One of the pastors I really look up to taught about marriage in this way… You are running in a race. Your whole life is a race, and you want someone that is going to run the race God has called you to run along side of you. A lot of times people get married and one of the spouses pulls the other person onto a completely different race course which can be frustrating for both of them.
Don’t get married to someone that has a totally different call on their lives than you do because you will end up fighting against each other. Even if your desire is to serve them, make sure God has called you to run along side of them on the same race course!
Marriage Isn’t An Instant Fix
There is that fairy tale idea that goes along with marriage, right along with the instant happiness idea, that tells us that when we get married all of our problems will disappear. I don’t know why we ever buy into this lie, but we do. We think, “Well, I have had nothing but family disfunction in my life but my marriage will be different.” I am all for that, I want your marriage to be different. But ignoring the problems of your past is not going to help your marriage, in fact I guarantee it will hurt it. The best thing to do is to talk through the different types of family problems you have gone through with a pastor during premarital counseling. Too late for that? You can still go for counseling with a pastor. Sometimes we just need an outside person to listen and help us understand why we get so upset about certain things. My husband and I both experienced different types of destructive marriages growing up, and we are sensitive to different things. It took us some time to figure out how to communicate effectively when we are having an argument, but most of the time (not all of the time) we are able to avoid getting super upset and figure out what wrong has taken place on both sides. For example I don’t respond well to elevated voices, and my husband used to get really insecure whenever we would disagree because he thought that meant our marriage was going to fail based on his past experiences. We both had to learn how to work through things with each other without pushing on each others’ sensitive spots. You cannot successfully learn to do this in a marriage where you ignore all of the problems of your past. The only way you can do this is to acknowledge past hurts and sensitivities and understand how they shape your behavior.
Marriage Isn’t Easy
Loving someone isn’t something you do based on a feeling. Or it shouldn’t be. Loving someone is a choice you make. You have to choose to love someone else in a sacrificial way every single day, and that is not easy! The easy thing to do would be to demand your rights, act selfishly, and destroy your marriage. Then your flesh would be nice and satisfied. It is honestly easier to let your marriage fail, although the outcome is devastating. Divorce is the process of ripping two souls that were joined together by God apart. It is one of the most painful things anyone can experience. I am not speaking from personal experience, but I have seen close family members go through it and I have also had to learn to understand my husband’s feelings since he watched his parents go through divorce. There are times when I don’t feel any love towards my husband, usually this is due to sin in my heart, but even if he is the one that is sinning, I still need to choose to love him. Am I a horrible person for saying that sometimes I don’t feel love for my husband? Well I’m a sinner, that is for sure! But I’m also just being honest. If you are married you understand, and if you aren’t married I want to let you know that “being in love” isn’t enough because those feelings won’t be there 24/7 in a world where sin exists. Even when I don’t feel love for my husband, I still need to choose to love him and behave accordingly. That is the commitment I made to him when we got married, and he made the same commitment to me. And guess what? When you promise to love someone you are also promising you will forgive them. Ouch, that is a flesh wound for sure! Forgiveness can be so difficult. God is the only One that can help us keep our marriage commitments. I am constantly praying for God to help me love my husband the way God loves him.
Just a few thoughts in closing… Is being married worth it? Yes! In God’s timing and according to His plan. Is marriage about making myself happy? No, absolutely not. Can a God centered marriage based on servanthood and loving each other like Christ loved the church cause immeasurable happiness in my life? Yes. But can I place the dependence of my happiness on another human being, like my husband? You can, but it won’t turn out well for anyone. That is what Jesus is for!! Turn to Him, and be fulfilled in Him first, or you won’t have the marriage God wants for you.
If you want to read a wonderful book about marriage, please get yourself a copy of, “Growing Together As a Couple: 10 Biblical Essentials for Building a Great Marriage,” by Brian and Cheryl Brodersen. This book has every single important lesson in it that Travis and I had to learn the hard way. I wish it would have been out when I was a newlywed, but I’m thankful for it now. It is funny and so full of biblical wisdom from a couple that is so obviously in love with Jesus and each other. They know way more about having a godly marriage than I do!
Have a question you want to ask? Please leave it in a comment below. I will answer, or I may even do an entire podcast just to answer your question!
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank You so much for Your love for us. Thank You that you created marriage and it is a good and wonderful thing when we treat it with the respect and selflessness You tell us to in Your word. Please bless our marriages and keep us close to You. Please guide and direct us by your Holy Spirit. Help us to forgive each other and please heal our broken hearts. Thank You Jesus, that You love us so much that You gave Yourself so we could be with You in eternity.
In Jesus’ holy name,