If you’re single, perhaps you imagine a Fully Alive marriage as one where your spouse anticipates your needs and fulfills them consistently. Safety and trust would always be there, and you both would always feel connected to each other. You’d expect communication, sex, and prayer together would be frequent and life-giving. Goodness would just happen.
And if you’re married, you might imagine a Fully Alive marriage more like, “Just make the pain go away.” This isn’t what you signed up for when you said, “I do.”
If you’re married I hope your marriage is Fully Alive. But for many people I hear from that’s not the case. It can be kind of like your physical health; you may sort of assume it will always be strong and vibrant–until it’s not. The connection seems gone. You’re living more as roommates. Will you end up as one of the divorce statistics?
Does that mean marriage isn’t worth it? Have you been oversold something that’s unrealistic? Should all the unmarried people run for the hills before they get hooked into something that’s miserable?
A Fully Alive marriage is probably not what you were led to believe. And marriage is worth it. But the truth about marriage will set you free. A few words about what a Fully Alive marriage is not, and then some thoughts about what it is.
A Fully Alive Marriage is NOT:
Meeting your soulmate. The idea that one specific person is out there that will meet all your needs and always make you happy leads to serious disappointment. It’s just not true. That doesn’t mean you can marry just anyone! But you always marry the wrong person. And you are always the wrong person when you get married. Both of you are sinners, and you both will have to change if your marriage is to make it.
Absence of problems. I was asked recently, “Do all couples struggle like this?” While every marriage is unique, every single marriage has problems. The ones who are successful are those where both partners learn the necessary skills, undergo their own transformation, and regularly make the kind of investments needed. And those couples who persist in working through problems develop greater intimacy and connection than they had before.
Self-made. You didn’t come to marriage knowing all you needed to know. And an isolated marriage is destined for collapse. You need other healthy growing couples around you to provide feedback, encouragement, and support. You need insight from knowledgeable and godly people who can help you understand what marriage requires. And most of all you must have God in the middle of your relationship being the glue holding you together.
A Fully Alive Marriage IS:
God’s Idea. Yes, you’ve heard that. But the deeper truth is that marriage was not only His idea for populating the earth. Marriage is primarily God’s laboratory in which we learn to love well. Since God is love and we are to become like His Son (see Romans 8:29), we need a place where we can undergo the training and practice necessary in learning how to love well. Marriage is not God’s only way but it’s one of His best ways of bringing us that transformation.
More about giving than getting. “If my spouse wound only . . .” How’s that working for you? In a Fully Alive marriage you are more concerned about what you can bring to the relationship than what you can get from your spouse. An important question is, What’s it been like to be married to you? A covenant, which is what God designed marriage to be, is about you choosing who you will be rather than looking for what your spouse is giving you. Some marriages become toxic, but loving well is still the paradigm, even if that means setting boundaries or walking away.
Better than you imagined. Jonathan, whose marriage God restored after severe brokenness, said, “The dream state that I had imagined for marriage–none of that is a reality in my life today. But what we have today is a thousand times better than what I could have imagined.” And that’s the testimony of many couples who persist through problems. It’s not only surviving; it’s experiencing a level of goodness in your relationship more than you thought possible.
Becoming Fully Alive
So how do you get there? How does a Fully Alive Marriage come to be?
- Build the necessary mindset. The expectations you had for marriage haven’t served you well. The templates in your mind around relationships, communication, sexuality, intimacy, and more need to be evaluated and usually rebuilt.
- Learn the necessary skills. How could you have learned to love well without being taught? There may have been good things you observed married people doing in your upbringing, but that’s always incomplete. But you can learn the necessary skills now.
- Experience God’s intervention. Every marriage is the union of two sinners, and is a setup for disaster – but for God. This isn’t just “Oh God, please fix my spouse!” It’s learning how to bring Him into every single aspect of your relationship.
Our new online course Fully Alive Marriage helps you do just that – build the necessary mindset, learn the necessary skills, and experience God’s intervention.
If your marriage is not Fully Alive now, you need this! Take advantage of this opportunity to get the help you need in learning to love well, and experience the kind of relationship you always wanted and that God wants for you.
Your Turn: What do you think people believe about marriage that turns out to be untrue? What elements do you believe must be present for a Fully Alive Marriage? Leave a comment below.
Tweeetables: why not share this post?
- A Fully Alive Marriage is NOT meeting your soulmate, without problems, or self-made. A Fully Alive Marriage IS God’s idea. It’s more about giving than getting, and it can be better than you ever imagined. Tweet that.