ON MARRIAGE TO A FRIEND
God has a great plan for us in our marriages, but honestly, marriage is not for cowards! It is hard work because GOD's goal is not to make us happy, but to make us HOLY! (Dr. Gary Chapman, Sacred Marriage). Jesus says clearly that if we want to follow HIM we must die to our self. Marriage is the training ground for denying self. Selfishness is revealed more in marriage than in any other place in our lives because it is the place we are most likely to let ourselves relax before the other. At work, we don't want to make the boss mad. We just do it. At church, we wear the mask because we don't want anyone to know we are struggling. We wear the mask of perfectionism. With our friends and neighbors, we do the same thing. But, at home, we are our truest selves.
Every marriage struggles. If anyone says they do not, then they lie. We cannot interact this intimately and not deal with our selfish selves.
We must have open communication. We must be able to share with one another our needs without the fear of the others retaliation. This means that we must recognize that if our spouse says, "I need this..." we show our love for them by not taking it as a put down, but view it as an opportunity to say, "Ok, LORD, if my spouse says I need this... then how can I die to me to meet this need." This is HARD! Because, it means I must die to me. Greg must die to Greg.
See, marriage is built on vulnerability. LOVE HURTS! We cannot walk around in fear of being hurt. If you do then you will be! At the same time, we need to ask, "Why is my beloved hurting? How can I keep him from hurting?"
I challenge you to write out what you need from your spouse to know that you are loved and then write out what you know your spouse needs from you. Prayerfully ask GOD how to minister to your spouse. If possible, have your spouse do it, too. Then take the time see if you are truly meeting his needs.
Then do a quick check to see if you are out of balance in any area that you know is a need. Remember, God first and then spouse is the true order of love in your home. We can quickly know our where our love resides based upon our time commitment.
Remember, fear is not of GOD if it is of man. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom! The fear of the LORD shuns away evil (Job 28:28). You must cast out your fears. Give them to GOD and allow Him to say, "Do not be afraid!"
As for stinking thinking, we all have it. This is why we are told to think on, "Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things" (Phil. 4:8).
We must train our minds to focus on Jesus and that which is holy. Remember marriage is to make us holy not happy! Does this mean we should not be happy? NO, but it does mean that when we are unhappy we really need to be asking, "Okay, LORD, how do you want me to be holy in this? How can I die to myself for my spouse?"
We all must do spiritual tests at times even in our marriages. This is not a new thing. One quick look at the Bible and we see from the start that marriage brought complications. Eve enticed Adam to sin. Abraham lied about Sarah. Nabal was a fool and almost had all of his family and servants killed by David and his men, but his wife Abigail intervened. Marriage will have its conflicts. This is why we cannot forget that we are all the Bride of Christ. So what I do to Greg, I am doing to Jesus' bride and vice versa. This really makes us think twice before we act. I don't want to be the one to hurt the LORD's Bride. Do you?
GOD has a plan for your marriage. If your spouse is hurting enough to write this email then you need to start asking, "Jesus, how can I heal my wife's heart?" It is your responsibility as her husband to lift her up as Christ lifts up the church. She is not feeling lifted by you right now. You need to ask yourself why? And do everything you can to lift her up. Maybe ya'll need to go away for the weekend without the kids and without responsibilities. Maybe both of you need to take time to cry and literally wash each other's feet and remind each other of why you chose each other. I remember when Greg and I were married for 8 years or so. I was exhausted with two little ones. Greg was always gone at work. I was alone and broken. I called my mom and asked her to take the kids. Greg and I talked and I washed his feet. We needed to learn to serve the other and allow the other to serve us. But, that time caused us to step back and bring restoration and healing to our marriage. It made us stronger. We must always remember we are for each other and not against each other. Our spouse is not our enemy. They are the one we committed to love, honor, and cherish.
However, in many ways our spouse is a weed eater. GOD uses them to show us all the weeds that still need to be pulled from our heart garden.
Can both of you say you are fulfilling what you committed to? I imagine both of you will be put to the test to say, not really. So, I encourage you both to recommit and do your vows again to each other.
When we struggle in our marriages, it is the normal process of GOD making us holy. Every marriage goes through this. Some choose to honor GOD and seek holiness, some choose to ignore it and live miserably and some choose to divorce. I pray you will choose to honor GOD and honor each other.