When I got married, I sure had different ideas about what marriage was about than I do now. Through the many decades that I’ve been married to my husband Steve, we’ve had a lot of ups and downs. There have been real highs and real lows. But through it all, I’ve discovered more about MYSELF than I think I ever would have known otherwise. Marriage uncovers character flaws that I never imagined were there.
Character Flaws Revealed
You see, I didn’t realize how much give and take is involved in marriage. I didn’t realize how much partnership there needs to be, in order for a marriage relationship to work well. I had such high ideals thinking that Steve would “complete” me, and show me a growing love, such as I never had experienced before. And even though I loved Steve dearly, I see now that I was completely naïve as to all that is involved in forging a new life together.
I thought Steve would meet my needs for intimacy and I would meet his. I also thought our love would automatically keep growing. But it hasn’t been as simple as that. Along the way, we’ve both had many, many opportunities to bump heads. As a result we pushed each other’s buttons more times than I can count.
As a result our relationship grew rocky (we were even separated and I was contemplating divorce). Then God woke me up to the lies I was believing. In this process I learned, and then Steve learned, and together we both learned that love and marriage is less about getting our own needs met. It’s more about learning how to build relationship bridges together. It’s about helping each other become all we were created to be. Steve helps me and I help him. And together, we work to make this world a better place. It is a goal of our life to help others see Jesus better. We live our lives to point them to want to know Christ more intimately.
Character Flaws Exposed
Concerning our character flaws I agree with what author Gary Thomas summarized when he wrote:
“What marriage has done for me is to hold up a mirror to my sin. It forces me to face myself honestly and consider my character flaws and anti-Christian attitudes, encouraging me to grow in godliness.”
This is so true. Nothing has shown me the hidden pockets of sin residing in my heart, quite like married life has done. When I don’t get my way or Steve doesn’t get his, there is sometimes trouble. But it is trouble that can be bridged. However, it takes intentionality and determination to get to that place.
Marriage Tests Our Character
This goes along with something Dr Juliana Slattery wrote in a Today’s Christian Woman article titled, It’s Not About Satisfaction. In it, she wrote:
“If marriage is ultimately about getting our own needs met, then marriage is over when intimacy fails. However, marriage can also be viewed as something beyond our needs. It is often the ultimate test of our values and character. Like no other relationship, marriage can highlight our fears and selfishness. It is essentially a ministry. The way we respond in marriage reflects our core beliefs and our very reason for living.
“Being a faithful and loving spouse ultimately relies upon our choice to be faithful to God. Especially when a husband or wife is unlovable, continuing in the marriage is only possible when our life means more than finding pleasure, fulfillment, and happiness.
“When marriage is viewed as a calling or ministry, hope resurfaces in the midst of broken dreams. The hope is no longer that the frog will turn into Prince Charming. There is, instead, hope that God can be glorified through what seems like a tragedy. It is only in seeking God and his plan to build the ‘house’ that forgiveness and unconditional love can infuse life into a dead marriage.”
Marriage As a Calling
And that’s what I believe. Marriage goes beyond my satisfaction or my husband’s. Marriage is a “calling” —a “ministry” —a mission, to join a man and woman together as a team to glorify God through our partnership. Not everyone is called to this ministry. You can see that written in 1 Corinthians 7. God calls some to glorify Him through marriage. And He calls others to glorify Him in their single life. Whether single or married, we are to walk in God’s ways, not our own.
Sometimes in marriage though, things go amuck. Somehow you and your spouse just aren’t clicking and one or both of you both feel “unhappy” in your marriage. I came across something written by Scott Means, from the Surrendered Marriage ministry, which speaks well on this issue:
Something else to add to all of this is what Pastor Tim Savage says in his book, No Ordinary Marriage: Together for God’s Glory. In it he touches upon our main goal of marriage. He talks about what we’re to do with all of our stuff —our character flaws, sins and such. Please prayerfully consider what he says below.
The Primary Focus of Marriage
“The first principle of matrimony: we marry for the glory of God. When this becomes the guiding impulse of our unions, when the glory of God becomes our primary focus and greatest love, husbands and wives will track along a trajectory that is decidedly upward.
“… Nothing cements a marriage like focusing on the glory of the Lord. It is the tie that binds!
“… Secondly, when spouses fix their gazes on the glory of the Lord, they need never despair over apparent incompatibilities. While it is always important before marriage to assess the compatibility of a potential partner, the matter becomes moot after marriage. No alleged incompatibility will ever be able to break apart a husband and a wife who focus on the glory of God. Differences are inevitable in marriage. One partner may be quiet and deliberate and the other excitable and spontaneous. One may prefer directness and the other withdrawal.
“But such differences will never become ‘irreconcilable.’ This is a line of thinking that is too convenient for husband and wives today. Even the most disparate partners will be unified by the glory of the Lord. That is because divine glory is more able to bind than incompatibilities are to divide.”
And that’s part of what I’ve learned about marriage. As I focus on my relationship with the Lord, Steve will naturally benefit and the same will be for me when Steve focuses on his relationship with the Lord. Our flaws and points of contention will be best dealt with, because the Lord, in His glory, will help us to work the matters out —as long as we cooperate with His leading and don’t get stubborn, wanting our way or the highway.
We need (and you need) to remember what we’re told in 1 Peter 3:8-9:
“Finally, all of you, be like-minded. Be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.” (1 Peter 3:8-9)
Cindy Wright of Marriage Missions International wrote this blog.
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