You might wonder why we would call this Marriage Insight, “Clothing Change in Marriage.” If so, please let us explain. But first we have a question for you. Have you ever put on clean clothes and afterward you feel like a new person? We have… actually, quite recently. We live in the Desert Southwest. And right now we’re going through monsoon season. Most of the year it is dry and pretty comfortable to work outside. But that’s not so during monsoon season! It’s hot, humid and sticky.
And if you’ve ever spent any amount of time outside working in the heat and humidity, you know how sweaty and dirty you can feel afterward. All you want to do is go in, take a shower and change into some clean clothes. If you change back into your sweaty clothes after your shower, you don’t feel very comfortable or clean afterward. It’s the combination of the shower and clean clothes that makes the most positive difference in how you look, feel, and how you positively interact with others afterward. You feel like you have a new lease on life. Haven’t you found that to be true?
And then there’s the smell. Taking a shower and putting on clean clothes sure can change how you smell to everyone that crosses your path—especially your spouse. We’re reminded of the scripture:
“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Ephesians 5:1-2)
Jesus is our example of the “fragrance” we are leave with those who are around us.
Clothing Change in Marriage
But how are we to do this? How do we make a clothing change in marriage? We “walk in love” so the fragrance of God (rather than our old smelly self) is evident to our spouse. The scriptures that precede these tell us what God expects of us. “No corrupting talk” is to come out of our mouths. We’re only supposed to talk in such a way, as it “is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Are you doing that? If not—if God is convicting your heart to make a clothing change. Listen to His nudging. And then do as He shows you.
When you say or do something you shouldn’t, don’t you feel dirty afterward? But when you do what God tells you to do and you give grace and build up your spouse, don’t you feel better? It’s much like taking that shower with God’s blessing. But then there are those stinky clothes you took off that you have to deal with. Do you put them back on, or do you make a clothing change, putting them away from you and then put on clean ones? We want you to envision your actions as if you’re taking off and putting on clothing.
Your Clothing Change in Marriage
In your everyday life as you live with your spouse, with intentionality:
“Put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires. [Do you see it?] Be renewed in the spirit of your minds. And put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore, having put away falsehood let each one of you speak the truth with your neighbor [your spouse is your closest “neighbor”], for we are members one of another. Be angry and do not sin. Do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.” (Ephesians 4:22-27)
Did you notice the putting off and putting on that is laid out in those scriptures? It’s convicting to read them. But it’s also good to be reminded of what God expects of us. We can get so caught up in our everyday life together that we can forget God’s standards for living. God is pretty clear about what He expects of us in our walk with Him and with each other.
And did you notice that He doesn’t put conditions on any of that? God doesn’t say, “Do this IF your spouse does it too. But if he/she doesn’t do it, then you’re free and clear to follow your heart.” It sure would be a lot easier for us if He did. That’s the way we’re prone to want to do things. We want to put conditions on the way we do things. But God doesn’t tell us to live that way.
Putting Off the “Old Self”
We are to “put off” our inclinations to walk in our “former manner of life” no matter what our spouse does or doesn’t do. God tells us to put off the “old self”—much like we would put off old, smelly clothing. He will keep us uncomfortable and we will definitely smell to Him and to others if we don’t do as He instructs. We’re told in 2 Corinthians 2:15-16:
“For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life…“
But then, we see in the Bible that we are to “put on the new self” which can be shown in the ways in which we handle truth and how we treat each other… i.e. when we are angry. It’s tempting sometimes to hang onto the old. But it feels so good when we let it go and embrace the new, as God would have us.
Getting Rid of the “Old”
We’ve been doing some extra yard work (despite the weather) and have been doing some extra cleaning around our house lately. We’ve been getting rid of that, which we shouldn’t or don’t need to hang onto, and have been embracing a new, less cluttered lifestyle. It feels good. We’re tempted to cling to the “old” but we’re seeing wisdom in getting rid of and putting off those things that we don’t need any longer.
From a biblical standpoint, here are some more things we are to “put off” and throw away in our lifestyle choices. It’s a lot like making a clothing change. These scriptures are reminders for us all to do—within our marriages and everyday interactions with others, as well:
“Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. [That’s pretty evident.]
“But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.” (Colossians 3:5-10 ESV)
Necessary Marital Clothing Change
Do you see what we are to put off and what we are to put on so we walk in a “renewed” way of living? Most of us know we are to put to death sexual immorality, impurity, and the types of passion that can cause harm in our married life. But then there is “evil desire.” Do you listen to people and things that you know you shouldn’t? Do you watch movies and view porn or look at other lustfully people—other than your spouse when you know you shouldn’t? We’re told to put all of those types of actions away from us, much like throwing out stinky, smelly clothes.
And here’s one that God has recently convicted me (Cindy) on: coveting. We don’t have our grown “kids” or grandkids living anywhere near us. I/we long to be with them. I look at other parents that are able to be with their family and envy them. Oh, I would never take that for them. And I cheer them on… but God showed me that sometimes I allow myself to covet what they have. I covet that type of family interaction so much that I allow it to rob me of joy that I could embrace otherwise. I know that is wrong. God is helping me to let it all go.
Need to Change Your Focus?
We don’t know if you are coveting what someone else has. Perhaps it is a better marriage. Perhaps it is another’s home or job or lifestyle. If you find yourself in this place of coveting—of “earnestly wishing for and desiring what belongs to another” ask God to help you to put your focus on His joy instead. Ask God to help you to focus on what we’re told in Ephesians 4:8-9.
“Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable… think on these things… and the God of peace will be with you.”
Also, did you see the other things that you and we need to put away from us? We are to put off all “anger, wrath, slander, obscene talk, and lying to one another.” The “old self with its practices” are to be put off. And the “new self, which is being renewed in knowledge” is to be put on, “after the image of its creator.” That is tough stuff!
Again, these are good reminders for every one of us.
Putting on Full Armor
And then here is an important way in which we are to clothe ourselves when we are facing trials:
“Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” (Ephesians 6:11)
You’ll find the description for the full armor in Ephesians 6. When it’s needed, put it on! We can sometimes forget to do that. And we sure don’t want to go only partially protected when we’re in a tough spot!
When one of us is heading into a tough situation, the other will pray that armor over us. If it’s Steve that needs the protection, Cindy prays over him. And if it’s Cindy that needs the added spiritual protection, Steve prays over Cindy. It’s a wonderful blessing to have our spouse pray protection over us. It brings more strength into our marital team—much as a “cord of three strands.” We are joined together as husband, wife and our God. The three of us are joined together as a team. Our team is “not quickly broken.”
Giving Grace: a Wonderful Marital Clothing Change
Also, grab onto the grace that God has given you. And make sure you share it by giving it to your spouse as well. Our Daily Devotional, titled, “The Word for Today” highlighted the following for us (and you too). They wrote:
“Grace is like a garment. You have to put it on each morning and wear it all day. ‘How can I live like that?’ you ask. You do so by drawing daily on God’s grace and deciding to put others [such as your spouse] first. Look for ways to support and encourage them.”
So, in closing, we encourage you to “put off” the stinky stench of sinful practices. Do what we’re told in the Bible. Wash yourself and each other in “the water of the Word.” And then:
“Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.” (Romans 13:14)
We pray you will. Please pray for us that we do, as well. We’re in this walk with Jesus and our spouses together.
Cindy and Steve Wright
— ADDITIONALLY —
We give a lot of personal stories, humor, and more practical tips in our book, 7 ESSENTIALS to Grow Your Marriage. We hope you will pick up a copy for yourself. (It’s available both electronically and in print form.) Plus, it can make a great gift for someone else. It gives you the opportunity to help them grow their marriage. And who doesn’t need that? Just click on the linked title or the picture below to do so:
If you are not a subscriber to the Marriage Insights (emailed out weekly)
and you would like to receive them directly, click onto the following:
More from Marriage Missions
Filed under: Marriage Insights