The first five years of our marriage was a combination of exciting discovery and the frustrating process of molding my spouse into the idol I wanted her to be. To be bluntly honest, it was much less enjoyable than I had hoped for, and she didn’t think as highly of me as I thought she should have. I mean come on! I am a great guy, and so easy to love. Why couldn’t she see that?
Of course, there were times of encouragement, growth, and even joy, but the picturesque marriage I had envisioned moved out on the night of the wedding and took up residence far from our home.
Like many who embark on the journey of marriage, the first years were hard.
They were hard because we went into marriage with expectations and a lack of understanding of just how selfish we really were (and are).
There were many times I found myself in a state of panic and worry as to what I had gotten myself into, and believing the rest of my life was going to be characterized by this current turmoil.
Then there was truth. Both of us came into marriage as sinners saved by grace. Both of us exist today in our marriage as sinners saved by grace.
We’ve come a long way from those first few years.
We still experience conflict, but we’ve tasted the fruit of forgiveness enough that restoration comes much more quickly than before.
We still experience detached emotional intimacy, but we recognize the warning signs more quickly and can take action to guard our marriage and restore our relationship.
The issues we faced the first five years of our marriage are different than the ones we’re encountering now. Troubles don’t cease to exist, but with time and commitment, we’re molding into the oneness of a marital covenant whose roots are sunk deeply into the finished work of Christ.
We’re now over halfway through our eighth year of marriage.
As the man of my wife’s prayers, I realize that my wife has placed a deep trust in me to love her the way Christ has exemplified for me, and to lead her and my children in the will of the Lord.
This is a pretty convincing reason to lay down my life for this incredible woman, and lead her with gentle and passionate conviction, but more important is how I am showing the gospel to her and to my children.
I am learning what it is to be co-laborers of the Gospel of Jesus with my wife. Not only is this important to the health and enjoyment of my marriage, it also sets the tone for how our lives are lived out in our home and outside of it. It points to the purpose of my marriage.
I was recently studying the book of Exodus for school and in response to the signs and wonders performed during the plagues one author said:
“If the battle with Pharaoh was solely to get Israel out of Egypt, then God was incredibly inefficient! … Yahweh’s primary concern in the exodus was the revelation and demonstration of his own name and glory.“~ What the Old Testament Authors Really Cared About: A Survey of Jesus’ Bible, pg. 85
This comment took my breath away. Not because it was so profound, but because it was so obvious. How often do I wish God would just get to the point… and fix my wife already… just kidding!
I know you can relate.
Sometimes we can become so discouraged by the process, and forget that it is in fact not the destination that God is most concerned with, but the transforming process to make us more like His son.
So ask yourself, what is God’s primary concern with my marriage?
Your Intentional Family starts with a right understanding of your great calling as a husband and wife, and ultimately as a family unit. You have an important role to play in advancing the Kingdom. Your marriage and your family are a key piece in that role.
If you can accept this calling and work towards it together, the cup of your marriage will overflow into the lives of your children as they see the grace, mercy, love, and unity of the gospel lived out. The blessing of a great marriage is just a by-product.
We are called to know God and to make Him known. This great calling starts in our homes with how we love God and how we love one another. Your marriage is the model of this for your family.
I truly believe that your marriage will either empower or hinder your calling to advance the Kingdom. Invest in and protect your marriage so that you can do great things together for His Kingdom.
Do something about it!
Set aside 15 minutes with your spouse this week to talk about this post together, and answer these questions:
- Are you for your spouse?
- Do you agree that your marriage matters to the path and purpose of your family?
- Do you agree that God wants to use your marriage for more than your enjoyment, comfort and ease?
- Do you want to reflect the transforming power of the gospel together in your home and when you leave?
- Are you willing to be more intentional with your marriage to accomplish this?
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