“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Romans 12:1-2a
One thing has been true of every marriage ever performed. The couple getting married truly believed they were going to live happily ever after. If not, why get married? If you are a parent, one of your greatest desires for your children is that they grow up, get married, and have a joyous, healthy marriage. Too often, however, wedding-day fairytales turn into marriage horror stories. Often, marriages have bad endings because they didn’t have the right beginnings.
God wants every married couple to live happily ever after. It can be done. But fairytale marriages don’t just happen. They require hard work. In fact, it takes very little work to have a bad marriage; but it takes a lot of work to have a good one. If two people are madly in love, why is marriage so much work? That question contains the answer…because marriage involves two people…people who carry into that marriage two totally different sets of expectations.
The vast majority of people who get married go into the marriage focusing on what they hope to receive rather than what they want to give. Then, when they don’t get from the marriage what they expected or think they deserve, they quit giving what they should to their spouse. This is a vicious cycle that is hard to break once it gets going…especially when both partners are caught in it.
When the honeymoon is over and the thorns on the rose of marriage become visible, we tend to do one of these three things. One, we lash out, getting into a tug-of-war over whose expectations are going to be met. Marriage becomes just a movement from one conflict to the next. Two, we pull in, with one person just giving in to the other. Many times, communication stops completely. And when that happens, no one is happy. Finally, too many people take off…giving up and quitting altogether.
None of these three behaviors work. There has never been a marriage in the history of the world that did not end up happily ever after when both the husband and the wife were the individual people that God wanted them to be. The secret to having a joyous marriage is found not in changing your spouse, but in allowing Christ to change you.
Application: Are you more focused on changing your spouse, or on letting Christ change you?