Marriage is not all about… Love

It’s been awhile since I posted, so here are some thoughts that I’ve pulled together from some of my recent conversations and interactions!

I’m assuming that the title of this post elicited some confusion, but let me explain first. These thoughts come from a conversation I had with my mom, and I wanted to flush them out more here, for all of you!

My mom and I were talking, and she asked how my marriage is going. It was a bit of a strange question, but I started on a monologue about how Dan is a good man, and he serves me and cares for me well. And how I appreciate how hard he works for me. And I appreciate how much he does around the house (he practically painted the whole apartment on his own in a week!). When I finished, my mom commented that I didn’t say anything about love. And she was right. I hadn’t mentioned that common word in my description about my marriage and my husband. Why?

Well, to start off, I am learning that love only goes so far in marriage. Sure, I love my husband dearly and deeply, and that hasn’t changed at all. But if I only loved my husband, but didn’t do anything, or if he only loved me but didn’t do anything, then things would fall apart! Right now, I’m learning that my attitude of love MUST inform my actions towards my husband, because if I don’t have actions of love, then I’m not truly doing what I need to do for my marriage. Stay with me while I keep explaining.

Dan and I don’t fight very often at all, which I am very grateful for, but most of the fights we have happen after we have seasons where we are not letting our love inform our activities. You see, I can say that I love my husband until I’m blue in the face, but if my love doesn’t change my behaviors, then we have a problem. BECAUSE I love my husband, I try do dishes late at night when I’m tired, I try to keep the coffee table clean because he doesn’t like clutter, I try go to bed earlier even if I’m not tired because Dan is tired, I try to get my lunch ready the night before so that I am not rushed and stressed in the morning (which always leads to me being a very not nice person…), and I try to do many other things to care for, serve, and support my husband. Now, I said “try” because I’m not very good at doing all these things to care for Dan, but a big part of marriage is constantly making the effort. And for me, it also includes making the effort without complaining. Our marriage works well because Dan has the same attitude towards me, and he is constantly trying to serve me in the same way. Our love for one another means we behave in a certain way!

Two verses come to mind when I think about this. First, James 2 talks about how useless faith is without deeds. We can gentle extend this to say the love without deeds is also useless. For either faith or love, if you say that you have it but your actions don’t look any different than someone without it, then it doesn’t make sense! However, 1 Corinthians 13 speaks into this on the other side, saying that if we don’t have love underneath our actions, then everything we do is meaningless! So either way, we need love, and we need it under, around, and in our marriage to inform what we do for one another!

So yes, my marriage is not all about love, but it is definitely full of love, informed by love, and able to endure because of love.

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How I am failing as a husband.

Because you are all such good friends and have been reading along with this blog for a while now, I am going to share something that might be surprising: I am not perfect.

Okay, so hopefully that wasn’t too surprising.  I am only human and I try not to hide my faults.  If it was surprising, talk to Amanda and she will tell you about the broccoli, and that was only one of my many mistakes.

The mistakes that hit me the hardest are when I realize when I am not obeying God’s commands.  This isn’t just important to me, it is important to God (1 John 5:2-3).

We are called to pray without ceasing, and as husbands, we are called to pray for our wives, and with our wives.  Both are important, but different ways that we are called to love our wives.

I love Amanda by trusting God can and will care for her, whether I can or not.  If I believe that God is who I say He is, the most loving thing I can do for Amanda is to pray that God will provide, strengthen, and encourage her.

Alternatively, praying with her demonstrates my love for her by relieving the pressure and strain that I could put on her and our relationship.  When we pray together, we are agreeing that it is not the responsibility of either of us to make the other happy.  It is not ultimately our responsibility to make each others lives flow smoothly or be God-like.  The holy spirit changes us, and while he can use us as tools in the life of your spouse, it is not our work.  By relying on God to provide eternal joy and not each other, we can stop stressing about being perfect, stop worrying about upsetting your spouse, stop draining ourselves by slaving away so your wife doesn’t have to and start serving them out of the overflowing joy that we find in Jesus.  By praying together, we help to establish God as the priority in the relationship, and not ourselves or our spouse.

I am failing to pray with my wife.  I pray for her regularly, but when it comes to actually praying together, I chicken out.  I fail to provide this opportunity for us to remind ourselves to frame our relationship in light of Christ.  It is hard for me to walk in this.

Which one are you missing? Praying for her?  Praying with her?  Perhaps both?  I encourage you to start praying for and with your spouse and we will see together how it changes our attitudes, relationships, and marriages.

Have you seen God at work through prayer in your marriage?  Feel free to encourage us all by leaving a comment here.

 

Marriage is…

Many people have asked me “How is being married/married life/etc.?”, and for a long time, I said something like “It’s hard but good!”. I recently read a blog post by a married Christian missionary that questioned why we always describe our closest earthly relationship as hard. Our two year anniversary is this week, and I’m now stumped by what to say to this question. Marriage is… interesting? awesome? brings it’s challenges? How can I describe the relationship that I have invested so much time, energy, love, commitment, tears, laughter, etc. in with just a few words?

This then got me thinking about the other deep, intimate relationship I am in right now; my relationship with the Lord. No one has ever asked “How’s being in a relationship with God?”, but if they did, would I think “hard, but good?”. Maybe, but this means I need to re-frame how I view my relationship with God. I don’t want my personal relationship with Jesus to be remotely described as hard. Jesus says that his burden is easy and we can rest in Him (Matthew 11:28-30), but Paul does describe a lot of the persecution and suffering that we will experience in this world. However, I don’t think suffering should lead to us describing our relationship as “hard”. Jesus always is loving us, forgiving us, and calling us to Him. We are always moving, either away from the relationship, or (hopefully) we are striving to be closer and more connected to God. Maybe turning from sin is “hard”, but the freedom we can feel in Christ is a huge gift and blessing!

Both my earthly marriage and my spiritual relationship with God are wonderful blessings that are exciting and interesting. My relationship with my husband has it’s moments of challenges and difficulties, but that is because I am a sinful human in a relationship with another sinful human. My relationship with God is only imperfect because of my sin, but He still loves, forgives, and cares for me despite my failings, and that is SO AMAZING. In our marriage, we try to love, forgive, and care for one another, especially when mistakes are made, but let’s be real, we mess up quite often. The fact that God a) doesn’t mess up, b) still hasn’t stopped having His everlasting love, and c) is always drawing me to Him, is just such an amazing blessing that sometimes it’s hard to wrap my mind around it!

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. – John 3:16-17

I know many of us have this verse (or at least the first sentence) locked in our memories from childhood, but when you take a second to really look and see the love God has for us, it is so beautiful. Our Heavenly Father sent His son, Jesus, on a mission to death so that we could be reconciled and saved. I’m not sure about you, but that always makes me smile and get all warm on the inside 🙂 The God who did that wants to be in a daily, personal relationship with us, which means we can daily feel His love, peace, encouragement, and hope.

This is the verse I read this morning, and I will leave you with these parting words of faith and encouragement:

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life. – Psalm 143: 8 

 

 

ATTN Feminists: The Man Leads at Home

As part of a weekly newsletter, our church, Citylight, sent several paragraphs briefly discussing the biblical role of men and women, and the relationship between them.  Among Christians, this is a widely debated topic.  This bible is clear, however, that a man is the head of his household (1 Corinthians 11:3).   Much to the feminists dismay (and many will try to argue against it) this is the template by which God has designed marriage and family.

Many will argue against this point.  “Man should not be the head of a household because that kind of ideology is oppressive” or perhaps “God created us all equal, why would he make a man the head of the house”, or perhaps even “women can do whatever a man could do,and probably better.”  Though that last thought might be accurate, it is not the system that God has established.

Furthermore, being the head of the household is not all it is cracked up to be.  One paragraph that was included in the newsletter reads:

In contrast … to other household codes… the husband as head of the wife is commanded in Ephesians to love his wife, “as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25).  Oppression is not the existence of headship or authority.  If it were, God’s rule over us would be necessarily oppressive.  Christ’s union with the church would be one of oppression, since He is head of the church (Ephesians 5:23).  However, if you know Jesus, you know that’s not what His headship is like.  He’s the one who came not to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45).  Oppression is not the existence of headship or authority, it is the abuse of it.  That kind of headship is vehemently opposed by God throughout scripture (e.g. Psalm 9:12).  But headship that lays down its life for others is exactly the kind of headship Jesus exercises over the church, and that husbands are assigned to image in their marriages.

The truth is that when people argue that the husband being head of the household is not fair, they are entirely right.  It would be much more comfortable not to be in this position.  Remember the end result of Jesus’s headship: death.

If it was up to me, I would let the feminists have their way, and give women the headship.  Amanda would likely be, in many ways, a better head of our house than I am.  This is not, however, what God has called us to.  As a husband, I am called to serve my wife, even to the point of death (I am grateful that it has not come to that; more on this in a future post).

What do you think?

Would you want to be the head of the family?

How does this perspective make you feel or react?

As always, feel free to comment below, I would love to hear your thoughts, questions, and comments (even if you disagree).