In my counseling and discipleship ministry I usually get the marriages that are in trouble. People don’t come when things are good. Typically, things have disintegrated to a point where one person may even be contemplating divorce. There are a plethora of reasons for marital discontent and I am trying to address a few of the common ones here.
In this “me” generation everyone is concerned with themselves. How can my needs be met? How can you please me? How can you serve me? Too many women go into marriage with the wrong believe that he is going to make them happy. When she realizes he is only human and a sinner just as she is and oh my word he is truly NOT concerned about meeting her needs all the time (because he is concerned about his needs being met) trouble brews quickly!
If this describes you, the first thing to understand right now is this: you are not obligated to receive but to provide for him. You are expected to be the giver of affection, grace, mercy, kindness, love, service, and everything else. The good news is that God requires the same thing of your husband toward you.
Your obligation in marriage is to provide for your spouse. A common complaint in difficult marriages is that he or she is not meeting my needs. What they are saying in part is he/she doesn’t spend time with me! Ladies, as gently as I know how I want to tell you that this is not a choice. Marriage is an act of live where you vow to meet each other’s legitimate needs for life.
We all have legitimate needs. We expect that when we marry that our spouse will love us and care for us and provide for us. We expect they will be our life-long mate and will be there when things are going wrong or we need help.
When you agree to marry someone, you are committing yourself to do these things for the rest of your life. This is not something to enter into for the supremely selfish. The problem for the marrieds we see is that maybe no one ever told them that! Each person goes into the marriage with an “it’s all about me” attitude and is unwilling to be the initiator in giving.
Contrary to popular belief, marriage is not a 50/50 relationship. It is a 100/100 relationship. Each of you has to be willing to give it all away. You have to give it all away and expect nothing in return. You do it because you agreed to in the beginning, and because doing it glorifies God.
Fundamental question: How can I glorify God and please Him?
You will glorify God by rightly pleasing your spouse. Sacrificial living for your spouse glorifies God. I have told women I counsel that to serve their husband no matter how ungrateful and selfish he is; brings God glory. They are to look at serving him as though they are serving Christ.
As I have said in previous posts, marriage is a Covenant of Companionship- it is a covenantal agreement to meet the real needs of your spouse for life on every level- sex, social, spiritual, etc. The Covenant of Marriage is a final binding act! (Ezek 18:8b) It is also a Covenant of God (Gen. 15:8-21).
Very often the couple went into marriage with the wrong idea or concepts of love and marriage.
Wrong idea of love- romantic love is not necessary for a strong biblical marriage. I know, that is very hard for some women to deal with, but if you want to think biblically you will have to accept this as truth. It is mostly women but an occasional man wrongly believes that love is strictly feeling oriented. They wrongly think that when the initial warm and fuzzy I-can’t-wait-to-be-with-you-every-moment-of-the-day feelings dissipate that there is no love left. Nowhere does the Bible make romantic love grounds/basis for marriage.
This is true for entering into marriage and remaining married. Romantic love is largely the things fairy tales are made of; it is unsustainable over the long term because it is a feeling! There has to be more to a relationship than feelings of romantic love or the relationship will not survive.
Acts of love are permanently required despite how you feel about him. The word “love” is a verb. In 1 Cor 13 the word agape is used. Agape is love that is void of self.
Love, that is, affection or benevolence; specifically (plural) a love feast:—(feast of) charity ([-ably]), dear, love.
These actions of love are to be permanent. There is to be a continual stream of selfless love toward each other. Not ceasing when you don’t feel like it. A misconception born out of the idea that love is a feeling is that flowers and candy equal love. That sex equals love. Men and women do not routinely think of acts of service as loving or as necessary after marriage.
Unfortunately what we usually see is dating ceases after marriage, special days like Valentines and Sweetest Day go by the wayside, and eventually anniversaries are ignored. I have heard of couples who buy their own Christmas and birthday gifts and tell their spouse what they bought!
Women take out the trash because the husband won’t. Husbands wash and iron their own clothes because their wife won’t. Now some might say these are not necessarily acts of love, but responsibilities. I think it is both. It is loving to do what is right and what is good for the other person you professed at one time to love for all time. A successful marriage requires giving of self toward the other person.
Think of the difference it would make in marriages if each person would put forth the effort to show acts of love daily. My husband brings me tea in bed every morning. It is his act of love toward me. It is a sacrifice for him, to take the dogs out at 5 am too, and at midnight. But these are acts of love toward me and he expects nothing from me in return.
Giving of self is much more than giving of stuff. Giving of self is a willingness to be engaged emotionally with the other person. It means being open, honest and vulnerable. It means you will take a risk, and trust them with all that you are. In a marriage, it is the only way.