You love your spouse… or at least you did when you said, “I do.” You love Jesus. So why is marriage hard? Why is it you sit down around the dinner table and instead of pleasant conversation, you stew on the inadequacies of your spouse? Why do you feel a void left by a spouse who doesn’t fulfill you?
What if marriage is less about our desire for comfort, happiness, and self-fulfillment and more about us being transformed into the likeness and character of Jesus? Wrestling with this question, asked by Gary Thomas in his book Sacred Marriage, can radically transform the focus of your marriage from a self-satisfying marriage to a Christ-centered marriage.
Romans 12:2 commands, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”
If you want to break the pattern of this world by having a God-centered marriage, here are a few steps that you can take to begin allowing God to transform your thinking.
Ask yourself, “Is Jesus the main emphasis of my marriage?” Ephesians 5:21-25 shows how both the husband and wife should submit to one another as they are submitting to Jesus:
And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church. As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything. For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her.
Ask yourself, “Are my thoughts honoring my spouse as well as my Savior?” Paul writes, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5, NIV) Are you thinking about your spouse’s strengths or are you concentrating on their weaknesses? Take your thoughts captive and submit your thoughts to the Lord.
Ask yourself, “Are my words building up my spouse?” Ephesians 4:29 says, “Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” Are you using your words to encourage your loved one? Are you taking time to pray for your spouse?
Ask yourself, “Am I willing to do the hard work necessary to have a God-centered marriage?” Be diligent and work harder on your marriage than you do for your employer. Many couples who have celebrated long and successful marriages point to the wisdom found in Ephesians 4:26 as a commitment for their marriage, “Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry.” Late in the night and in the heat of the moment, it’s not easy to overcome your anger, but sometimes hard work is necessary for a God-centered marriage.
For those of us who are task oriented, we want to pull out the perfect tool and have everything instantly fixed. Unfortunately, marriage is one of those things that take both time and commitment. Take your first step today to honor God through your marriage and ask God for His help in your marriage.