Your marriage has had its ups and downs, but it’s not toxic. You might give your marriage a C+, maybe even a B. You love each other. God is a part of each of your lives, and of your marriage. But you wonder if you’re settling for too little, for just being OK. And you’d love to take your marriage from just OK to great.
It’s a myth that if you just find the right person and fall in love, everything will be OK from then on. You’re not a “finished” person when you say I Do, and neither is your spouse. And God is just beginning His work in you both at that point. Like anything of value, without regular tending, your marriage will deteriorate.
Think of your marriage as a home, a space. Building on Christ as the foundation of your marriage is absolutely vital! Without Him, you’re sunk.
But even the very best foundation doesn’t make a home by itself. You and your spouse do not instantly experience complete oneness right from the start. That’s something you will need to continue to pursue. And here’s what that looks like.
Knock the Walls Down
You came into marriage with hang-ups, baggage, wounds, “stuff.” So did your spouse. Stuff from your family of origin, from your own sinful nature, from things that happened to you. Stuff that includes attitudes and beliefs you picked up, things you learned that are wrong or unhealthy, things you didn’t learn that you need to know, parts of you that are prickly and inadequate.
Marriage has a way of showing up those prickly and inadequate places pretty quickly. And those places create walls between you and your spouse that you didn’t even realize were there. On top of that, your stuff and your spouse’s stuff often form a perfect storm.
For example, one spouse craves affection because they never received it growing up, and the other never learned to give it because of the harshness or violence in their family of origin. Or one spouse struggles with pornography and the other struggles with deep insecurity. Such combinations make for higher and thicker walls between you – until you deal with the stuff!
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to tear down the walls between you.
That’s hard and dirty work. It doesn’t happen quickly. It’s uncomfortable. But you just keep going. You’ll probably need some help and support along the way. And you can’t force your spouse to deal with their stuff. You can only deal with your own, and invite your spouse to do the same.
Keep the Floor Clean
Once the biggest walls are down, you still have to keep the floor between you swept clean. Life happens. Part of your “stuff” you didn’t see before crops up again. Your oneness will be threatened at various times and ways. You’ll need to be alert to those little foxes that spoil the vines. (Song of Songs 2:15)
When my husband was alive we’d have regular, usually daily, “board meetings.” At bedtime we’d check in with each other; everything OK? If there was an issue, we’d address it. That didn’t mean we could immediately solve everything, but it got us on the same side working together. It kept the floor between us clean.
The Holy Spirit regularly allows things in your life to come into the light in order to deal with them. His purpose in your marriage is that you learn to love well, and He uses the “stuff” to show up places where you need to become more like Jesus.
When He does that, say Yes! When problems come up in marriage, working through them together can actually make you stronger. Determine you won’t ignore stuff that comes up between you, but that you will learn to deal with it.
Make the Space Safe and Inviting
You can’t change your spouse. But you can do much to create a space where your spouse can see and be themselves, and have room to grow and change. That doesn’t mean putting up with destructive behavior at all! But it does mean going first.
What would make you want to come closer to you? Do that. You can’t force intimacy; you can only invite. Be that invitation.
Intimacy is not taking off your clothes; it’s opening yourself. It’s seeing and being seen, knowing and being known. That doesn’t happen in a prickly environment. And it can’t be forced; it can only be pursued and chosen.
That kind of oneness is a picture of the intimacy God has within Himself, and that He desires with each of us. Marriage is an earthly parable, an object lesson, of that kind of intimacy. (Ephesians 5:32) And it’s worth pursuing!
So if you aren’t satisfied with your marriage being only OK, that’s good! God’s not satisfied either.
You can’t guarantee what your marriage will look like tomorrow; only God knows. But it can be better than it is today. More oneness. Less walls. Less “stuff” cluttering the floor between you.
Go after that. It’s worth it.
Your Turn: What grade would you give your marriage today? What are you going to do to move your marriage from just OK to great? Leave a comment below.
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- What would it look like to take your marriage from just OK to great? Think of your marriage as a building, a space. You will need to break down the walls between you, and then keep the floor between you clean. Tweet that.
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