It’s been an incredible journey these past few years, learning how to be a godly woman, a good wife, and an intentional mother. I’ve been with my forever husband going on four years years now. And when I say FORVER HUSBAND, that’s a statement I am very confident in saying. But my current understanding of marriage and foreverness is actually quite new and revolutionary to me. The idea of marriage that was modeled to me as a child was nothing like the godly definition of marriage I know today. And I’m grateful for that because it wasn’t a pretty picture when I was little. But I don’t think I’m alone in this revelation. Many young folks today are completely clueless about what marriage really means.
But it’s not their fault. There’s an unhealthy picture being painted in popular culture of what marriage is supposed to be and drastically understating the seriousness and commitment of it. It’s a picture that leaves so many couples destroyed before they even really had a chance to begin at all. As I’ve watched the divorce rates climb over the past decade, it’s starting to feel like the kind of marriage I have is becoming the minority. We live in the midst of the ME ME ME generation and it’s putting forever marriage on the endangered list. It’s a disappearing concept in our modern culture of entitlement, with the growing demand for instant gratification and disposable everything.
The reality is, marriage isn’t what most never before married people think it is, because how could they know? Even people with longterm boyfriends or girlfriends don’t always fully grasp the fact that marriage really can change things. And as so many young couples are finding out now, once the fantasy of their dream wedding wears off, there is a lot more to it than just romance. It’s a contract, a commitment to putting your partner’s well-being ahead of your own ego. It’s about devoting yourself to building them up, not tearing them or your household down. And it’s about protecting their heart, even if that means from yourself.
In my years being a wife there are three critical things I’ve learned that MUST be present in a marriage to make it thrive and survive the long tests of time and hardship. These virtues are things my husband and I have committed to bringing to our marriage again and again. And they have gotten us through some of the most difficult times of our life both within our personal relationship and within our family life.
“In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.” – Titus 2:7-8
My husband and I aren’t perfect, no couple is. We’ve had a hefty learning curve with communication. But yelling, name calling, shaming, or talking behind each other’s back are some things you will never see us do in our household or in our marriage in general. On top of respecting and protecting each other’s hearts, we also are extremely considerate of our children’s. When we have conflict as a couple it stays between us and only us. Period.
The long term effects on children growing up in a constant war zone are devastating. I know from three decades of personal experience. It’s taken me years to heal from the emotional trauma and psychological abuse I experienced as a child and young adult. If you want to raise healthy, well adjusted children, keep your marital ‘stuff’ within your marriage. Learn to respect and love each other. If not for God or yourself, then at least do it for your children.
“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” – Ephesians 4:2
We live in an incredibly selfish culture. With the ultra sense of entitlement so many possess, it’s hard to cultivate a true heart of meekness and humility. And I’m afraid many people enter marriage thinking it’s all about their own happiness. But my friend, it’s a lie. If you believe your spouse is responsible for your happiness, then you’re sadly mistaken.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t expect kindness from your spouse. But the purpose of marriage is not for your pleasure, it’s to honor God and live according to His commands. I know this may sound harsh, but if you don’t bring a true heart of humility to your marriage, it’s doomed. To make marriage last, you must be willing to examine your own shortcomings during times of conflict and set your ego aside to protect your lover’s heart. This piece is critical but it’s also the hardest. It takes a lot of inner work to allow our egos to die and give our hearts to God and His design.
“Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” – Galatians 5:1
Love must include freedom. And when I say freedom, I don’t mean in the sense of being able to do whatever you want at the sake of everything else. I’m talking free in your life of devotion. Free to be ecstatically in love with your Savior. If we believe that Christ bought us freedom and we claim to follow His leadership, we must allow others to have that same freedom in their own lives. I’m talking about the freedom to be your true God given self. To not be silenced or expected to conform to some illusion of worldly perfection. The freedom to choose your spouse every day and do everything with devotion and love. God gave us free will and that includes our free will to choose our partner above our ego; To choose to give them their own freedom to live out God’s purpose in their own life.