It sounds good. You know you “should” do it. “Make Christ the foundation of your marriage.” But what does that look like? How do you do it?
You’ve heard that your marriage needs a solid foundation. “Build your marriage on the Rock.” Relying on whatever human strength you and your spouse have is not enough to make it. You need God with you; “a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:12) But it’s not always easy to put that into practice.
There are plenty of marriages among church people that don’t last. You probably know several of them. So this must mean more than calling yourselves Christians and going to church when it works out for you.
The union of two sinners is doomed to destruction – unless. The only way to make it is to have God as the glue holding you together, to build your marriage on Him as the foundation.
So what does that look like?
Choose to Listen
If doing what you’ve been doing could have made your marriage work, you’d be fine already. The relationship habits, behaviors, attitudes, ways of communicating, ways of handling conflict that you’ve developed haven’t made things better.
So it’s important to choose the mindset of a learner. “Learn from Me” Jesus said. (Matthew 11:29)
That’s hard for many people. You may be hurt, frustrated, angry, overwhelmed, afraid. The most natural thing is to react out of your own needs. You want God to make your spouse “shape up”.
But the only way your marriage will improve is if you choose to take the position of a learner, and open your mind and heart to what God has to say, regardless of what you think you want. Choose to believe Him, that what He says will be best.
Do What He Says
This does not mean primarily going to church on the weekend and your small group when they meet, as helpful as those things may be. We’re talking about following Jesus 24/7/365. It means you’re determined to do what He says – about everything. About your time, your money, your sex life, your entertainment, your responses to your spouse, all of it.
It means when God says “The borrower is servant to the lender” (Proverbs 22:7), you get out and stay out of debt. (Having money fights, anyone?)
When God says “Keep your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life” (Proverbs 4:23), you address the roots in your heart of anger, lust, contempt, pride, or whatever else.
When God says “Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife” (Mark 10:7), you put your spouse first above parents, in-laws, everyone.
When God says “Flee sexual immorality” (1 Corinthians 6:18), you stay far away from anything with that flavor – porn, romance novels, emotional (or physical) affairs, etc.
When God says “Submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Ephesians 5:21), you seek to serve your spouse in every way instead of primarily looking out for your own needs.
That’s just a small sample. The point is not that you will do this perfectly; you won’t! The point is that you have determined that what God says, you will do. Even if it’s hard. Even if you don’t understand why. Even when it hurts. Even when it feels foreign to you.
That may seem dangerous. This does not mean being “nice.” It may include learning to set boundaries. If your marriage is toxic it means making decisions accordingly. You will need to continue to learn along the way. The point is that you have determined that what God says is what you will do.
Some will read this and say, “Great! More sex!” Others will read this and say, “That’s the one thing I can’t do.”
Notice this did not say “seek sex.” God created you with the need, desire, and capacity for intimacy. In marriage that usually includes sex. But sex without intimacy is – just sex. And that can be abundantly destructive.
Intimacy means closeness, seeing and being seen, knowing and being known. It’s not primarily a physical thing, although it includes the physical. It includes being vulnerable emotionally, and learning to invite and treasure your spouse’s vulnerability. It includes spiritual intimacy, and praying for and with each other. (There’s nothing more intimate than truly praying together.)
This is so important because it’s the core of who God is, the core of love. God in His love is so intimate within Himself that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are so One that we are told to think of them as one God. And they are. That’s a picture of the kind of intimacy God designed to be between husband and wife.
And that takes pursuing. Letting your own prickliness be rubbed off so you can get closer. Being willing to both endure and address your spouse’s prickliness so they can get closer. It means actively seeking healing for both yourself and your spouse so you can come closer together.
Learning to Love Well
A healthy God-centered marriage includes a lot of joy and satisfaction. It also includes pain and sacrifice. Some needs get met, and some don’t. A good marriage can never substitute for God Himself.
That’s why the question must always be, “Who does God need me to be to my spouse in this season?”
Marriage is perhaps the primary way God designed for human beings to learn to love well. If you don’t learn that, you will either leave the marriage or be miserable. The only way for marriage to be successful is when both partners seek to outdo each other in loving well.
Does every marriage experience that? No. But that’s not because of any failure on God’s part. And remember that in marriage both you and your spouse get a vote, and you can only vote for you.
But regardless of where you have been, where your spouse has been, where your marriage has been, making Christ the foundation of your marriage is the only possible way of success.
That is God’s wish for you. And mine.
Your Turn: Where have you built your marriage on Christ as the foundation? Where do you need to bring your marriage back to that central truth? Leave a message below.
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- You’ve heard it said, “Make Christ the foundation of your marriage.” But how do you do that? You do it by being a learner, doing what He says, and pursuing intimacy. Tweet that.
How’s the Communication Between You?
Whether newlywed or married for decades, communication is the key to the quality of your relationship. But most couples feel their communication is less than what they desire.
Understanding your communication style, and that of your spouse, will allow you to take your communication to the next level.