I had this first realization a couple months into my marriage even though Patrick and I had been together for years prior to “I do”. I knew Patrick – his idiosyncrasies, his values, and his goals. Honestly, I think it’s safe to say I knew everything about Patrick and visa-versa. So why would I have this thought a couple months into my marriage?
The concept of marriage has been around for centuries, but I think it got misconstrued somewhere along the way. Maybe it started with the “me first” or “how can you benefit me” generation? However, divorce rates started to rise before that. So maybe it started with our parents “quit when the going gets tough” mentality? I’m not sure, nor do I think it’s my place to say where the unrealistic view of marriage came into play (although I think I have a good idea). I just know that one thing is for sure, I see a lot of marriages ending because the relationship did not reflect God’s true intention for marriage.
It may come as no surprise that God created men and women differently, yet entirely in His image (God’s creative like that). However, His intention with our differences was never to be negative or competitive, but complementary. His intention was that man and woman would complete each other’s “oneness” and live in harmony (Genesis 1-2). It was only after the fall, when Satan challenged God’s creation that men and women would no longer live in harmony with one another (Genesis 3). And thus, men started to come from Mars and women from Venus.
Unfortunately, Satan hasn’t stopped manipulating or tempting since. If he sees something good, Holy, or just, he will do everything he can to destroy it – especially relationships.
As Christians, I think it’s safe to say that we know we should apply the biblical principles of marriage to make our relationship stronger. But what does that mean? How do you have a “Christian” relationship and/or marriage? Truthfully, I think the question we should actually be asking is — What if the success of my relationship isn’t so much about me and my spouse, but me and God?
Instead of focusing on why my spouse and I have differences in the first place, the more important issue is how we deal with them. We have to stop expecting our relationship or marriage to be conflict-free, “me”-idolized, or exude perfect happiness. Because even in the best relationships, it is none of those things. God designed marriage to provide partnership, spiritual intimacy, and the ability to pursue God together.
A lot of people believe that they’ll marry their “soulmate” or someone who will complete them. There is a huge problem in looking for a human to complete us. As humans, we are born into a sinful world, inclined to make mistakes, destined to fail time and time again. Relying on our “soulmate” to complete us in a relationship, means we will constantly be let down. To make things worse, the soulmate mindset is considered idolatry… God should be our fulfillment and purpose; only He can truly complete us (1 John 2:15-17).
I think if you want to have a “Christian” marriage “with God at the center” (as most Christians would even say), you have to put your relationship with God first. I know for a fact that I fail Patrick daily. Whether it’s from my short temper, lack of patience, or inability to communicate effectively, I know I’m not the perfect spouse. However, throughout our short time of being married, I’ve noticed that the more time I spend with God, the more I’m able to stay calm, have patience, and communicate effectively. Which ultimately is mirroring how God designed marriage to be — reflecting His image and bringing my husband closer to Him.
A shocking 50% of marriages end in divorce or separation according to the law firm of Wilkinson & Finkbeiner, LLP. While it’s easy to see why God designed a oneness-centered union in a me-centered world, statistics prove it’s hard to live that way. I’m not an expert in marriage (I can picture my husband jokingly saying, “Amen” right now); However, since God has revealed this insight to me, it’s helped me shift my idea of marriage and how I respond.
So now, when the bills need to be paid, communication isn’t lining up, or whenever Patrick and I are just plain irritated with each other, I remind myself that:
If we marry for the right reasons: to give glory to God, to model His love and commitment to our children, and to share His love to the world, divorce makes no sense.
If we marry for the right reasons: to give glory to God, to model His love and commitment to our children, and to share His love to the world, divorce makes no sense. Some ways we can put this into action and to encourage a healthy “Christian” marriage are to:
The thought, “Marriage isn’t for me.” popped into my head a couple months into my marriage because I wasn’t honoring God with my marriage. I was living for me; trying to make my marriage serve me. I wasn’t living out His intention of marriage in my own to the extent that I now know how to. However, by putting my relationship with God first and putting thoughts to action, I can safely say that I’m leaving this post encouraged. My hope is that you are too.