It’s not easy being married. Don’t get me wrong, marriage is a wonderful gift from God, and a great marriage is an indescribable gift, but to day-in and day-out live the Ephesians 5 commands, takes a lot of work. Unfortunately, we have plenty of examples of the disintegration of marriage when the work doesn’t take place.
Awhile ago, I was reminded of this in a perhaps unconventional way. Although it embarrasses me a bit to admit it, I happen to catch a few minutes of The View and perhaps even more shameful, I heard some insight that actually made sense. While talking about a celebrity marriage that had been broken up by an affair, Elizabeth Hasselbeck stated that we are all just one choice away from experiencing a similar situation. Her point was that broken marriages don’t just happen in an instant, but they are the result of a thousand of individual choices that ultimately lead to a chasm in a relationship.
As I thought about this more, I pondered that if this was true, there also had to be some right choices that could regularly be made to prevent the relationship from being weakened. If our marriages are compromised by individual choices, than our marriages can also being strengthened by them.
One choice that we need to make is to invest in each other. I have seen many relationships falter because they believe the lie that the vows they exchanged are enough to keep the relationship strong. However, saying the vows once isn’t what ultimately matters. What matters is consistently living the vows each and every day. It’s not only acquiescing to take care of your spouse in sickness or in health, but it is actively looking for ways that you can do that. We should not simply state that we will love for richer or for poorer, but to purpose to demonstrate that love each and every day. I believe (although I can not statistically prove) that most marriages that collapse do not suffer a cardiac arrest, but that they are killed through a slow malaise that infects the fiber which binds them together. Investing in each other helps prevent that.
Also, couples need to be praying for one another. As I wrote about previously, this is more than just saying a general prayer for their well-being. While this is good, we also need to be praying purposefully for our significant other. I firmly believe that we are less likely to make intentional choices that will hurt someone if we are consistently petitioning our Heavenly Father for His best in their lives. If that is our prayer, we are going to want to be used as His instrument to accomplish that good; we won’t want to be a hurdle that inhibits it. Regularly and purposefully praying for our spouse helps us fight the lie that when have to look after ourselves. Instead, we are rightfully considering them as more important (See Phillipians 2:3).
Finally, we need to recognize the gift that marriage is – not only in our own lives – but in the lives of others. Throughout Scripture marriage is identified as a representation of Christ and the Church (For example, 2 Corinthians 11:2, Ephesians 5:22-33, Revelations 19:7-9). Therefore, marriage has value in informing and shaping how others view our Savior, and our relationship with Him. Realizing this, and acknowledging that our marriages may help draw someone to God, will help us refute the lie that the marriage is only about two people. It is so much more than that. And when we recognize this, we will make choices that build our marriages rather than compromise them.
It’s a strange thing to write about marriage when someone could rightly say, “What do you know? You’ve only been married for two years. Come back and talk to me when you’ve been married for 40.” And I’m confident that in 38 years I will have a wealth of knowledge about marriage that I don’t currently have. But I’m also confident that the three truths above won’t have changed. And I hope that then, as well as now, I will be able to confidently say that all of them are true of me.