Models for Marriage

Daniel and I had the privilege of spending time a few weeks ago with a couple who has been married for many more years than we have. We always like the opportunity to be around people who have been at it longer than us because it gives us a chance to learn from them and pick up some helpful tips from their relationship. This time provided us with such an opportunity.

As we ate lunch with our new friends, the thing that stood out to us the most was how much this couple loved each other. Their love and care for one another was evident in the way they preferred the other over themselves, spoke highly of each other, and genuinely enjoyed the company of their spouse.

It convicted us and made us want to be like them. After all these years, children, moves, job changes, and seasons of life they still delighted in being together and being married. When I was engaged to Daniel, I had people tell me that the evident love and excitement I had for my soon-to-be-husband would fade as the reality of marriage set-in. The sad reality is that for many married couples marriage is just something you do, not something you delight in. But it’s hard for me to believe, especially based on the example we saw a few weeks ago, that this is how God intends our marriages to be.

If marriage is God’s good design for us than why should it have to be drudgery and boredom? Our culture would have us believe that all of the excitement and warm feelings happen prior to the wedding day. All of the joy and delight ends when you say “I do.”

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Yes, marriage is hard and sanctifying. And yes, there are times where the feelings are simply gone. But as my older friend told me, we need a long-term view of our marriages. We need to be able to see beyond the moment of frustration and pain, and see it as a piece of what God is doing for the long-haul in our marriage and in our soul.

I have not been married that long. But when I look at older couples, like the ones we were with a few weeks ago, I am encouraged to strive for what they have. I want to delight in my husband for as long as God gives me breath. I want him to be my best friend all the days of my life. I want him to be the highlight of my day, after the Lord.

If we believe that marriage is a shadow of a deeper and more beautiful reality, namely Christ’s relationship with his Bride (the Church), then we have to believe that joy in this brief shadow is what he desires for us. Our contentment and satisfaction in our marriages for what they are (finite relationships) shows the world the greatness of the Gospel. And a crabby wife or disengaged husband is devastating to a Gospel-witness.

What I learned most from my friends was not a list of rules or tips for how to cultivate love in my marriage. What I saw was a relationship centered on the Gospel. They love Jesus with all of their hearts and it spills over into their marriage. They have an eternal view of what their marriage is pointing to and they are committed to the covenant. This is what I want for us, for a lifetime.