Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word. (Ephesians 5:25-26)
There’s no other way to say this: I am experiencing blissful marriage guilt.
While several of my friends either struggle in their marriages, complete paperwork for separation, or deal with the aftereffects of divorce, I bask in the love light of a happy and healthy marriage. Admittedly, I feel a bit guilty about my situation.
Why do some marriages thrive while others wither? I have an opinion about this, which I believe I am qualified to make having gone through my own divorce almost two decades ago.
The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him” (Genesis 2:18). If I am to take the Bible seriously (and I do), then my role is to help my husband. According to the Word, that’s what I was created for. That doesn’t mean serving him like a slave or trying to direct his every move like a boss. I am to meet him where he is and help him become the best version of himself that he can possibly be.
This only works if the husband can be completely honest with his wife and trust her in all circumstances. As it says in Proverbs 31:11, “Her husband has full confidence in her and he will have no lack of gain.”
When Greg and I had our kitchen remodeled early in our marriage, we had great difficulty agreeing on a new layout, which included tearing down two walls to create an open floor plan. Greg thinks like the engineer that he is, and I think like a cook. But with the aid of an architect, we were finally able to come to an agreement. Several weeks into demolition and reconstruction, I came home from work to discover that a wall, whose length looked fine on paper, did not feel right in actuality. The project manager would need to be informed and the change might incur cost, but Greg was out of town on business, and I wasn’t sure he would even agree with my assessment.
Later that night, I explained the situation to Greg over the phone. Though he listened intently, he couldn’t experience what I was feeling as I stood in the gutted space.
“What should I do?” I asked.
“You need to be home when the project manager arrives in the morning so you can explain the problem,” he said. “You’ve got this. I trust you.”
If two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken (Ecclesiastes 4:11-12). Greg and I do most everything together. We rise together each morning and go to bed together each night. We eat most meals together and set our cell phones aside while sharing details about our day. In essence, we leave very little room for Satan to gain a foothold in our relationship. Greg has my back, and I have his—but it is Christ who binds us together. He turns our weak, 2-strand yarn of a marriage into a strong, 3-strand rope.
Let me say a little more about the start and close of our days. Our number one priority each morning is to be in the Word. Greg goes to the living room, and I go to the sitting room, but we are within earshot of each other if we want to share a thought or a prayer concern. At night we either read a devotional together, pray together, or share a God-sighting. In summary, we bookend our waking hours with God.
We work hard at this marriage, but the return is incredible. We both give, which means there is nothing to take. I make Greg’s lunch each morning and always include a treat he wasn’t expecting; he in response texts me each afternoon to thank me for whatever he found. Greg always calls when he’s leaving the office, and I always meet him at the front door with, “Yea! You’re home!” This produces a laugh and results in a kiss. I help him rake leaves, and he helps me fold laundry. Not a day passes without a compliment, an encouragement, or laughter—usually all three.
This morning, I asked my husband to rate our marriage on a scale of 1 to 10 with ten being “awesome.” He gave it an 8. While that’s a darn good score, I had to ask him why he didn’t rate our marriage higher. “Because of COVID,” he said. Whew, I thought, it’s not because of me!
There really is no such thing as a perfect marriage because marriages are made of imperfect people. However, God provided men and women with the tools and ability to have great marriages despite our imperfections. A good place to start is to pay attention to the clear warning to turn away from the things of this world and be led by the Spirit. The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like (Galatians 6:19-21). In today’s terms, this means to abstain from pornography and lustful thoughts; to turn away from selfish, self-serving behaviors; to extend love, kindness, trust, gentleness, patience, and encouragement to our spouse in all circumstances; to steer away from heavy drinking or any type of addictive behavior; and to reflect Christ in all that we do and say.
Marriages don’t fall apart in an instant. They come to ruin over time. First there is a crack in the foundation that goes unattended. Then anger, jealously, lies, and/or indifference seeps in like a slow leak until you wake up one day to discover that you are waist deep in murky waters. Clean-up sounds daunting, so you play the blame-game instead. And while you’re focused on hurting each other as deeply as possible, mold sets in that cannot be expunged.
Do you know what the Bible says about mold? “Show it to the priest.” In other words, with God’s help, it is possible to banish the mold. However, “if the defiling mold is persistent, the article must be burned” (Leviticus 13:57). And thus ends another marriage.
This is my 22nd blog post. That’s a special number for me because Greg and I were married on November 22nd. Later this month we will celebrate 17 years together. He is my gift from God and the love of my life. Yes, we have had trials and heartache, but they don’t hold a candle to the joy and happiness I have experienced as Greg’s wife. (Happy Anniversary, honey!)
There are no guarantees about tomorrow, so invest in today. Love on your spouse, and while you’re at it, take time to pray for all those who have yet to experience the joy of a Godly marriage.
THE SONG THAT COMES TO MIND IS Not Living in the In Between https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_G8JqUljOYM by Bebo Norman.
Lyrics: “Can I come close to you, hold your heart and never move? I’m gonna give you everything I’ve got. I’m not living in the in-between.”