I thought marriage would come easily.
I pictured a handsome man sweeping in to pick me up and make me whole. I guess I have Disney to blame for that – LOL! Obviously, that fairy tale was exactly that – a fairy tale. Marriage can be difficult, and there are times when I have struggled to even like my spouse.
I want to have a better marriage. Here are two things I have learned that have helped and can improve your marriage:
1. Only God can complete you.
The idea of someone coming in, sweeping you off your feet and completing your life is absurd. But, that is exactly what I thought was going to happen when I got married. I put my identity in my marriage and my spouse. Any time our marriage didn’t go the way I thought it should – or any time my spouse disappointed me – I personally felt like a failure.
In other words, I was totally co-dependent. That way of thinking is so wrong.
When I thought of my husband as the means to my happiness, anything he did “wrong” upset the crap out of me because he wasn’t fulfilling his “purpose.”
When I found out about his porn addiction, my world shattered.
I had to come to the realization that he was not my identity. Through treatment, accountability and community, I had to learn that he is not the means to my complete happiness. If I hadn’t, there would have been no way for me to heal from that pain.
So, if my husband isn’t who I am, where is my identity?
I had to put my identity in God. I had to realize that I am a child of God. Loved and wanted. That was the answer I had been searching for all along – even before my husband and I got married. It took his addiction to open my eyes and come to terms with the truth: My identity and path to complete happiness is Christ. No one person could ever fill that void, nor should they ever have that much pressure on them to do so!
Only God can truly bring you to that place of wholeness. Only God can give you all you long for. Once I placed my identity in God, I was free. And guess what? So was my husband. We were able to enjoy one another knowing that it was going to be alright – even when we mess up – because we are not responsible for completing one another’s identity.
2. Marriage = Service
A happy and healthy marriage does NOT come easy. It is hard. My husband and I were recently discussing the fact that we are so very different… in almost every aspect of life.
Honestly, at first, we were angry that God made us almost-exact opposites. “Why in the heck would God make us this way knowing how hard it would be in marriage?” It baffled my brain! Doesn’t God love us and want us to be able to enjoy our marriage? It just seemed unnecessary.
But then, my oh-so-wise husband had a brilliant thought. What if God made us drastically different so that we would HAVE to learn to love like he does?
In other words: Agape.
Agape is a Greek word for love. One definition is: “Unconditional love that is always giving and impossible to take or be a taker. It devotes total commitment to seek your highest best no matter how anyone may respond. This form of love is totally selfless and does not change whether the love given is returned or not.”
WOW! It boils down to selflessness and service.
We have to learn to serve to have a great marriage.
We must lovingly serve one another to the point of dying to our own selfishness. Now that, my friend, is a hard concept. Serving each other out of love… even when we don’t really like each other.
That is God’s love. That is what makes us closer to God. That is what makes our marriages stronger and that’s what will improve your marriage.
It never ceases to amaze me how much we miss when we don’t do things God’s way. Did we have a “happy” marriage before surrendering totally to God? I guess, but let me tell you, it was NOTHING compared to what we have now. Miracle after miracle.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s still hard. I have to remind myself daily to let go of my selfishness, as does my husband. But on days when we get right with God, we get life right and those are the best days!
As I look back, I now see that it was never my husband who was supposed to be my knight in shining armor – it was ALWAYS JESUS.
I thank God that He has my identity.
I thank God that He made men and women so differently.
I thank God that through the mess and craziness of marriage, we learn how to serve like He did and, ultimately, love like He loves.