I’m no marriage expert by any stretch of the imagination, but I do know a thing or two. I have been married for 33 years and, while I expect to be married at least twice this long, it’s still a fairly significant amount of time. So I’m going to share two Biblical principles that have saved us more than just a time or two.
Note: When Paul wrote his letter to the Philippians he wasn’t addressing marriage, so using these scriptures as such could be construed as taking them out of context. Even so, I still maintain the scriptures used in this post are applicable.
Don’t Rely on your Spouse for your Joy
I know that doesn’t sound romantic. And I’m not saying you shouldn’t receive joy from your relationship or your significant other. What I AM saying is, there are going to be times when you will not feel a positive emotion toward your husband or wife. There will be times when you straight up don’t like that person. At. All.
(News Flash: There will be times when they don’t like you, either.)
And that’s okay! Because we’re human and flawed and do and say stupid things sometimes and have different perspectives and different backgrounds and different expectations and the list goes on. So if you can only have joy when you like your legally bound roomie, you’re going to have times of disappointment.
Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Philippians 4:4
See that? “Always be full of joy IN THE LORD.” Not in a person. Not in a thing. But in the Lord.
Plain and simple, look to Jesus to be your constant source of joy. There will still be times you don’t like your spouse. And there will still be times you’re disappointed or frustrated or angry with that person. But when you rely on the perfect, unchangeable, always reliable Jesus, you can still have joy even in the midst of the yuck.
The bonus is that, once you change your way of thinking here, you don’t get as disappointed or frustrated or angry when they don’t meet your expectations.
Put the Other First
No really. Do it.
Even when it doesn’t feel easy.
Even when it doesn’t feel right.
Even when they are being a pain in your patootie.
Just do it.
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. Philippians 2:3-4
Here’s what I know to be true. Every time in the past 30+ years that we have had a less than harmonious relationship, one or both of us were being selfish. Every. Single. Time. But when we both put the other first, it’s a beautiful thing.
Listen. I’m not saying we have these two tips down pat. And I’m certainly not saying we have a perfect marriage. The awesome thing about marriage, just like our faith, is that there is always room for growth.
Now give me another decade or two of marriage, and I’ll get to Marriage 201.
As I said at the beginning of this post, I am not a marriage expert. Please note that I am not talking about an abusive relationship. I’m talking about a healthy, mutually respectful, loving marriage. If there is no joy from your relationship or if you are always putting your spouse first, but it is never reciprocated, I would suggest marital counseling. Because marriage done right is one of the best gifts there is.