I watch many couples struggle in their marriages, and I see so many of these marriages end in divorce. I thought that I would share a couple of thoughts on this most significant issue.
Think back to when you first met your spouse, when you began to date, fall in love, and then got engaged. It was probably one of the most wonderful times in your entire life. One of the main reasons is that a major component of what you were experiencing was based on physical attraction and romantic love. There are a lot of sparks and electricity. I might add, that this is a time in the relationship when you see few flaws in the other person.
Once you are married and as time goes by, the sparks died down, the charm wears off and you are left with the person. And you will begin to realize that the love you have for your spouse is not based on physical attraction. It is the person you love, particularly his or her heart.
This is why, whenever I am asked to participate in a wedding ceremony or give pre-marital counsel, I always emphasize the importance of his or her spiritual life, and the need to grow spiritually. I explain to them, as you deepen your relationship with Christ, He will transform your heart, and this will draw you into a deeper love, because you are drawn to each other’s heart.
My second thought about marriage is that we so often make the colossal mistake of looking to our spouse to provide something that only God can provide. Modern people are looking to his or her spouse and unconsciously declaring to that person, “I am looking to you to fulfill me and make me happy.” This is how so many people enter marriage, and, in the process, expect too much from the relationship.
When we look to Christ to satisfy the deep longing of our souls, then we will approach marriage with the right perspective. And we will not be placing the pressure on our spouse to do what only Jesus can do. (Gary Thomas articulates this beautifully in his wonderful book, Sacred Marriage.)
It is common to enter marriage with the belief that my spouse is going to make me happy – but over time we realize that the ideal relationship we had always dreamed of does not come to pass. We become disillusioned by the inability to receive all the love we believe we should be getting from our spouses. Of course, in this culture which we live, the most popular option in dealing with this disillusionment is to look for a new relationship. We rationalize within ourselves and reason that “I just need to find the right person” which translated usually means a new person. However, in a new relationship the same process will inevitably repeat itself – great excitement, the thrill of discovery, and then at some point, disillusionment. A new person might look new for a couple of years, and she might be a little shinier with a few less wrinkles, but eventually we discover that she has so many of the same limitations as the person we traded in.
What we fail to realize is that God must be at the center of our hearts, and that all our other relationships should flow out of that one central relationship. As odd as this may sound, I have discovered in my own life that my satisfaction or dissatisfaction with my marriage has far more to do with my relationship with God than it does my relationship with my wife. Therefore, we should never blame our spouse for our lack of fulfillment; we should blame ourselves for not more diligently pursuing a fulfilling relationship with God.
Article originally published on Richard E Simmons 3 May 10 2105.