Valentine’s Day remembers the most idealistic hopes of love and relationship while living the gritty reality of everyday life. How does the heavenly faith in Christ impact the very earthy grit of life and marriage? FirstCov Pastor, Brian Majerus, breaks down common barriers that can prevent marriages from thriving and shares several concepts to strengthen those unions that God has joined together.
Love is in Action, Not Just Words: “I tell my spouse I love him/her.”
God reached out in love with words and message. But also in the Incarnation, Christ’s coming in the flesh.
So, too, your love must go beyond words.
There are three parts to any message:
- Content (7%)
- Tone of voice (38%)
- Non-verbal communication (55%). (Yes, that’s right, 55!). So your actions and incarnate communication is more important than the vocal.
As John reminds, “...let us not love with words or speech but in actions and in truth.” (1 John 3:18).
Along with acts of service and affection, one area Christians don’t talk about much is expressing your love in marriage sexually. It is an important incarnate expression of love that is offered as a gift to one another and is not to be ignored or used to manipulate (1 Cor. 7:2-5).
Love Knows Sin & Brokenness Happens: “My spouse has problems.”
Sin impacts your spouse. And, if you are honest, you too. A Christian view humbly recognizes that we all fall short of the wonder and original intention of God’s plan for humanity (Romans 3:23).
So why are we surprised that the hard part of the vows happen (bad times, sickness, worse, and poor times)? Instead of grace, we often come with justice. A marriage in Christ is more like the song “Broken Together”; we walk with one another in our brokenness.
Colossians 3:13 reminds “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Seek help for habitual problems but realize that, like our Lord, forgiveness is offered repeatedly (Matthew 18:21-35).
Love Doesn’t Quit: “I am just not happy in my marriage. It’s unfulfilling.”
Our culture defines marriage (and much of life) in themes of immediate gratification, fulfillment, or happiness. So love instead of being something proactive or given (as God’s example) is something reactive, defined by what someone else does. Yet Paul expressed how a life lived in Christ can find peace and contentment in hard earthly situations (Philippians 4:10-13). But contentment apart from Christ tends to move in waves.
For example, one recent study said there are seasons of greater and lesser life satisfaction by age. The 20's are often high with middle age decreasing and bottoming at 50. (Sorry about that 50-year-olds). But, then it begins to increase again with a peaking at 82-85!
Find your contentment in Christ first.
Love Always Hopes: “I don’t think things will ever get better.”
Our Savior himself suffered and persevered, knowing the hope that was before him (Hebrews 12:2). Likewise, marriages have crosses…and, in Christ, crosses also have resurrections.
When our marriages get hard, we can learn to suffer well. Remember that the pains of this world remind us of a time when they won’t be (Romans 8). (And this is not an excuse for abusive situations.) Realize God is not just God in the easy moment but in the hard. That there is a dying before there is life. There is a cross before a resurrection.
What It Means for Today: A Few Ideas
Strengthen your marriage:
- Grow your own relationship with Christ. No spouse can fill the places God alone can.
- Engage the Word daily together with a couple’s devotional.
- Remember your spouse as a sister/brother in Christ, not just a husband or wife. (If not a believer, remember that God is using you to express the gospel (1 Cor. 7:12-16).
- Seek counseling for trials. Don’t stay stuck! Listen to your spouse if they are struggling and agree to seek help. If one counselor doesn’t work, try another. (This is not uncommon.)
- Live love. Express it with your actions. A smile. A hug. Surprise with an intimate evening.
- What fellow Christian might help encourage and pray for you in the hard days?
- Actively forgive. Don’t wallow in reactive disgruntledness.
God’s not done yet! In this season, treasure the marriage call God has given you…and the one He has given you to grow in Christ with. May God bring new things in your love and marriage!