December 5, 2009. It may have only been a little over thirteen years ago that my husband and I said our “I do’s,” but that special day sure does feel like a lifetime ago. Time tends to do that to us, doesn’t it?
Perhaps, this feeling isn’t the fact that physical time has gone by and that we have grown another year older. Perhaps, it is because with time comes change – for better and for worse. I know my husband and I have each changed since December 5, 2009, especially after we both became parents! Oh my, did we experience changes in our marriage once that happened! Often, in marriage, the changes may happen slowly or small enough that we don’t notice it right away, but when it comes to the person we have vowed to spend the rest of our life with, it is difficult to ignore when you finally realize that time has shaped you each in unique ways and it is starting to cause a lot of friction between the two of you.
Problems and arguments arise and increase. We may get on each other’s nerves a lot. Instead of talking it out calmly and sharing our hearts with one another, we build walls around our heart to keep the other person out. We may want to spend time with someone who understands us better. Sometimes all of this friction and struggle may cause us to want to throw in the towel. When things get hard in relationships, calling it quits seems like the easy thing to do, right? After all, this isn’t the person you first married. So many people who are wrestling with this, feel stuck, and don’t know what to do or where to turn. The D-word may even have come up a time or two.
But I can say emphatically, divorce is not the answer! You can experience personal changes in your lives individually and still stand the test of time and grow stronger together! This might sound impossible. And honestly, in our own broken and weak human strength, it is. But take heart! There is hope for your marriage because Matthew 19:26 tells us that with God, all things are possible! Even if you were not a Christian when you got married but found Christ later on (or if you stumbled upon this website and are not a Christian at all), know that you cannot love your spouse and stay committed to them without God’s help. Without God’s love shed abroad in our hearts by the gift of the Holy Spirit, we are incapable of loving another person unconditionally. We are able to love our spouse because God first loved us.
“We love because He first loved us” ( 1 John 4:19, NIV).
There is no step-by-step guide to have a successful and thriving marriage, but there are things we can implement to help strengthen it. Thankfully, when we make a commitment to put God first within the marriage, He gives us grace and wisdom for the journey together. The Holy Spirit truly does empower us to show the love of God even to the most unlovable.
Intersecting Faith and Life:
One way we can be empowered to love our spouse is to study the Word of God regularly both individually and together. The Bible is full of truths about God, who is Love Himself (1 John 4:8). The more we dive into His Word, our selfish minds are renewed to think like He does and love like He does, extending the same grace and mercy we have received from Him to others. The Word transforms us from the inside out, all for the better, and we begin to see the fruit of the Spirit (see Galatians 5:22-23) develop and mature in our life, which we need to fully love others. In addition to studying scripture together, you can pray together and pray for each other. God is the only One who can change someone’s heart and life. Don’t just pray for God to change your spouse but pray and ask God to help you love your spouse in the midst of the difficulties and obstacles. Your circumstances may not change right away, but you will be surprised at how God changes you in the middle of those circumstances and you begin to see your spouse how God sees them – with eyes of mercy and grace. Be quick to forgive and quick to apologize to your spouse. Because we have been forgiven through the Cross of Jesus Christ, we must forgive others. We have received such great mercy, therefore, we must extend that same mercy to our spouse, even if they have wronged us or offended us.
Obviously, there are so many other ways we can ensure our marriage has a solid foundation that not even time can shake it or destroy it. Just like how our individual lives must be founded upon the Rock, Christ Jesus, most importantly, our marriages must have that same foundation. Jesus is our example of how to love one another, selflessly and unconditionally. May the Lord continue to empower us with His grace to do just that.