I watch many couples struggle in their marriages. And I see many of them end in divorce.
Think back to when you first met your spouse, when you began to date, when you fell in love, and then became engaged. It was likely one of the most wonderful times of your entire life. One of the main reasons is because the major component of what you were experiencing was based on physical attraction and romantic love. Sparks and electricity lit up the room every time you saw your new love. There were no flaws to be seen in this person. As the cliché goes, love is blind.
Once you are married and time goes by, the sparks turn to flickering embers, charm fades and you are left with – the person. You begin to realize at this point 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. But what do you do when you wake up after years of marriage and suddenly see your spouse’s true heart, and it’s not what you thought it was?
I recently read a great illustration by Kathy Keller who said that most people think they are marrying this wonderful, beautiful statue that they will spend the rest of their life with. However, in reality you are marrying a beautiful block of marble that over the years will hopefully become a beautiful statue.
Think about this, from the day you marry your spouse, thirty, forty, or fifty years may go by. Your spouse will not stay the same. They will not be the person you once knew. Knowing that our spouse will change, what role are we playing in that change?
In his book, The Meaning of Marriage, Tim Keller says that the purpose of marriage is the deep oneness that comes from journeying together toward Christlikeness. This should be our desire for our spouse and we are called to play a role in seeing this comes to pass.
It strikes me that most men focus their lives on what they are experiencing, what they are achieving, and how much they are accumulating. Rarely do they ask themselves, “What kind of man am I becoming?” What we do not realize is the type of man we are becoming will ultimately determine our level of happiness and the quality of life we will experience in our marriage.
Right up to the end of the 19th century, the most important course in an American student’s college career was moral philosophy, or what we today call ethics. The course was seen as the crowning unit in the senior year, usually taught by the college president himself. As President James Monroe said of such classes, “The question to be asked at the end of an educational step is not, ‘What has the student learned?’ but ‘What has the student become?’”
We have lost this perspective. Whether it is our children’s lives, our spouse’s life, or our own life we no longer seem concerned about the kind of people we are becoming.
The reason this has happened is because we are on this grand quest for happiness and feeling good. However, this is not working for us. People are not finding the happiness they are searching for, it remains elusive.
God never intended happiness to be the goal of life. He intended it to be a by-product of becoming more and more like Christ. I have found we are not very interested in becoming like Jesus, because we don’t understand what that looks like. As I have studied His life, I have concluded that Christlikeness means to have a strong character, great wisdom, and the ability to love and have deep substantive relationships. Question. Do you want that for your life? Do you have it?
When I share these thoughts with men, they immediately want to know how to become Christlike. I explain that you can’t on your own strength. We cannot change our hearts nor fill the emptiness of our souls. Only Christ can do that. He must do a work in our lives. He does that through our relationship with Him. The deeper we go in a relationship with Him, the greater the transformation that takes place in our lives.
I will leave you with this thought to consider. What kind of person are you becoming? The answer to that will ultimately determine the quality of your life.