In a recent post, I asked the question, "What is so difficult about marriage?"
I combed through the comments and now want to give a summary of what many people said:
- Some have found marriage to be very difficult. Still others have found marriage to be difficult at different times or seasons. Some have not found marriage to be very difficult at all.
- Self-centeredness contributes to the difficulties of marriage.
- Determination to stay in the marriage was helpful. A few said they refused to bring up the possibility of divorce when in an argument.
- Some have struggled with resolving their conflicts and then moving on.
- Many cite unrealistic expectations as a contributor to difficulties.
- There are difficulties in which a contributing factor was the family of origin. In particular, some have come from homes that were dysfunctional and even abusive.
- One person noted that a particular challenge was to learn to accept her spouse just the way he was.
- Finally, one noted that marriages that are non-functional or dysfunctional are often that way for a variety of reasons.
(Yes, I realize many other very good things were said in these comments but I just want to highlight these in particular today.)
There are often difficult moments or seasons in marriage. This is not necessarily a bad thing. I do not want to necessarily equate all difficulty or struggle as a negative. Can marriage be a negative experience? Sure. But that is not what I am talking about right now.
What I want to think about right now is how Jesus uses the ordinary, everyday marriages of men and women to create a Christlike people. How does he use this relationship to shape us as Christians? I first began to give this some thought after reading Gary Thomas’ fine book Sacred Marriage a few years ago. As he notes in his book, marriage is not simply about happiness but holiness. That is, in marriage there is something going on that is even greater than personal happiness (as wonderful as that might be). In marriage, God desires to shape a Christlike people.
Marriage gives us plenty of opportunities to pursue self-centeredness. I may see myself as the center of life and measure everything by whether or not I am pleased or if it makes me happy. Yet, marriage also gives us much opportunity to express love to one another in a thousand different ways. In loving another, with faithful covenant love, we are behaving in a way that is more Christlike. God can also use the frustrations of ordinary married life to make us Christlike as well.
As a Christ-follower, I want to pray that I will yield myself everyday to the one who can use the ordinary settings of my life, my job, my role as parent, and yes, my marriage to create a Christlike person.
How has your marriage helped you to move toward Christlikeness?