I think as humans we tend to grasp for guarantees! We like things that feel concrete and definite. Especially when we have invested or are considering investing in something or someone.
Marriage is no different. When we get married, we are vowing to love our spouse through all that happens in our lives. We are not able to imagine or understand the complete scope of what that might be, but it IS what we are promising. With the promise, at the time of our wedding we feel that it is a guarantee of sorts. Yet we have seen so many marriages that are stuck, completely broken or somewhere in between. They want things to change and when we encourage them to “be the change they want to see in their own marriage,” we hear questions and comments like this!
- If I work on me and do all that I need to do, how long do I put up with this?
- I have worked on me and done all that I need, my spouse has done nothing. God wouldn’t want me to stay in a marriage where I am treated like that, would he?
- I deserve better.
- This is not what I signed up for.
- I am tired of being a doormat and the only one to work in this marriage.
- You can’t tell me this is what God wants!
- I married the wrong person.
It is so hard to work hard in your marriage and not get the results you desire. To work and feel like it is not being reciprocated. To want a guarantee that your spouse will also work hard, but not getting it. Ted Cunningham, a marriage focused pastor from Woodland Hills Family Church in Branson, MI said this on his facebook page awhile back and it is spot on!
“Some would say, ‘to be a good disciple you need a good marriage.’ However, this is not always the case.
To be a good disciple of Jesus you must BE a good spouse. Being a good spouse does not guarantee a good marriage because there are two people involved.
So, what’s the solution? Be a devoted follower of Christ and bring that to your marriage.” (emphasis added)
Not only is this spot on, it got me thinking about this theme that we often see in marriages. And really, there are no guarantees in marriage or life for that matter, other than the promises of Jesus and that he will ALWAYS be with us. Since there are no guarantees here are a few things to remember:
You being the change doesn’t guarantee their change
We say it here at OFM all the time. Be the change you want to see in your own marriage. We say that because, you can only work on you. But you should be working on you and that can have great impact on your marriage. While it is not a guarantee, it is a much better approach then waiting for your spouse to change or meeting their selfish, angry, apathetic attitude with a dose of your own. Be the change you want to see. Period! No, be the change for a year and then your all done or whatever exception you can come up with. Be who God is asking you to be as a husband or wife, not matter what your spouse is or isn’t doing!
Your still called to be the wife or husband God is asking you to be regardless of your spouse
God asks us in Ephesians, both husband and wife separately to do certain things. He asks this of us because he knows this is the BEST way for a marriage to work. He knows our strengths and our pitfalls and therefore is giving us a map to the best marriage possible here on earth. But again, it is not a guarantee. Your spouse may choose to continue to treat you in the way that they currently are. Do you deserve better? Yes you do. However, God is for your marriage and wants your spouse to be that “better.” He wants you to grow through, to be refined by him. If that doesn’t happen with your spouse, he is still asking you to be the wife or husband you can be with his help. Remember it is God’s kindness that brings us to repentance. Just as our kindness, love, respect and encouragement can be a blessing to our spouse. Keep working on your regardless of the results. God is doing a good work in you and it is always our hope and prayer that your spouse will join you on that journey.
There is no “until” in Ephesians 5
This is a tough one to swallow, but the word until is not used in Ephesians 5. We cannot decide to love and or respect our spouse “until” . . .
God said he would never leave you or forsake you
God will never leave you. That is good news my friends!! He can and will give you everything you need in your marriage. That includes times in the wilderness, whatever the reason. He never said this would be easy and that there wouldn’t be trials. In fact he said there WOULD be trials and that he would be there with us. Hold on to that hope and promise.