Posted in Marriage

Tending the Foundation

Over the years, I have interacted with women who have stepped into the beauty of real marriage after years of exposure to marriages of abuse. Perhaps they watched their parents endure an abusive marriage and never had the chance to see beauty in marriage before God granted them beauty in their own. Or perhaps they lived through spousal abuse themselves. Either way, they are suddenly confronted with what marriage should be: a beautiful picture of Christ’s love for the church.

Each time I talk to one of these precious, precious women, I’m delighted in the things they discover for the first time. No matter who else has seen the beauty in them, there’s something amazing when they’re told they’re beautiful for the first (or hundredth) time by a man who truly loves them. They discover how it feels to be reinforced by the person who knows them best. And they see the respect that exists between husband and wife in a God-honoring marriage. No matter how many times I see it, these three things are repeated. Every time. And it’s always beautiful!

And it’s a reminder to me. I’ll admit, there are days when I do not understand how my husband always sees me as beautiful. I get discouraged even when he builds me up. And, I do not actively express the respect I have for him. But, even when I fail to act on these things, I don’t take them for granted. I know what a blessing they are because I have see the alternative played out over and over again in the lives of other women.

Unforutnately, there are other things that I do take for granted, mainly because it is hard to fathom that marriage can exist without these things. For instance, I take for granted the fact that my husband and I both entered this marriage with a devotion to making it work.

I take for granted that we will make decisions together.

I take for granted that my husband married me, in part, because he wanted to be with me permanently. That I am his favorite person, and all other relationships – except with the Lord – are secondary.

I could go on and on, but the bottom line is that there are several things I assume are realities for every marriage simply because they are realities for me. But they are not. Many, many marriages, even lasting and spiritually growing marriages, exist without the aspects that I consider to be foundational.

So what do I do with that information?

First, I must never make assumptions about someone else’s marriage. I want to encourage couples. I want to see marriages strengthened and grown. I want to see them positively challenged and deepened. But, I must be careful to never assume that another marriage needs what mine needs. There is only one thing we all need – the Lord Jesus Christ at the head of our marriage. Period. If that is true, everything else will fall into place!

Secondly, I need to stop taking aspects of my own marriage for granted. The things that seem most natural are also most foundational to our relationship, and those things need attention just like our weaknesses and growth areas do. Sometimes it might be something as simple as thanking my husband for desiring to be with me. Whatever it is, I need to be intentional about tending our foundation.

How can you tend your foundation this week?

Posted in Marriage

Marriage Monday: Becoming

My husband and I love marriage. We are halfway through our sixteenth year of this journey, and it has definitely taken us on some loops, climbs, and dives. I hate roller-coasters, so you’d think I would also hate the ups and downs of marriage. And, to be honest, I have not always enjoyed them while in the middle of them. But I have no desire to get off the ride. None whatsoever.

The Sustaining Secret

So, what is it about marriage that is so absolutely wonderful? What sustains us through the insane roller-coaster ride?

Ultimately, it always comes back to the Lord. But, sometimes it is helpful to break that down in light of what our world tells us about marriage.

Completion?

When I was in college, quotes from Jerry Maguire flew constantly. Tom Cruise and Renee Zellweger led us to believe that the crux of a solid relationship is completion. Do I complete Doug? Does he complete me?

The answer is no. Doug and I each had to be complete in Christ before we could become a new life together.

Fulfillment?

So maybe we fulfill each other?

That might be a little closer to reality, but I think it still falls short. It was not so much that we fulfilled each other when we got married. Instead, when we came together as a couple, we were able to more completely fulfill the goals God had set before us.

That alone is powerful. Christians should hunger to serve Christ to the fullest of our abilities. I recognize that there are some ministry roles that I could not have filled as a single church member. Certain aspects of my passion in ministry fall into place because I live the experience of marriage. The same is true of Doug. I believe he is a more effective pastor because he is married. No, I am not taking credit for his success in ministry. I am, instead, saying that our unity in marriage makes us who we are in ministry.

So, joint fulfillment is a big deal. But I think there is something else.

Ultimately, marriage becomes us.

We joke about marriage being the death of a man. Popular cake toppers show a bride dragging the groom, indicating that she is coercing him or he is only agreeing to marriage because that is the only way he knows to keep her. Men are not supposed to want marriage.

My husband has never seen it that way, and I am so incredibly thankful. I have watched him blossom and bloom as my husband. I have seen him both fail and succeed, but above all I have seen him become.

He has always been perceptive, but he has become even moreso over the years, seeing needs in others sometimes before they know they have them!

He has always been brilliant, but he has become an increasingly amazing steward of that brilliance, using it in incredible ways.

He has always been wise according to the standards of Proverbs, hungering after a continual increase in knowledge and wisdom. But in that pursuit, he has become someone whose wisdom others covet.

God has fostered that becoming in him – and aspects of becoming in me – as He has grown our marriage. As He forges us together, He also forges us increasingly into His likeness.

Yes, more than anything else, marriage becomes us.