I’m not the perfect husband. In fact, I get marriage wrong more than I would like to admit. I love my wife, but there are times that I don’t treat her as well as I should. But I’m trying to get better. I’m trying to love her with the love that she deserves. I want to have the strongest marriage possible. In other words, our marriage is a work in progress. Most are. I’m not a marriage expert by any stretch of the imagination, but I’m trying to be the best partner I can be for my wife.
I write that to get to this. We have seriously got to change our attitude, thoughts, expectations, and even our jokes about marriage in this country. This is especially true if you are a Christ follower. I almost wrote this post a couple of months ago, but decided not to at the time. I can’t sit silent any longer. We have an incorrect view of what marriage should be. It’s a partnership in life and love, but most of the time you hear it talked about as a competition. Who gets the most out of it, and if you’re not the one winning, what do you need to do to get what you deserve?
At least that seems to be the attitude that is most prevalent in our society today. Let me give you an example. This is what finally pushed me over the edge to write this post. I came across this picture the other day on social media. It reads, “Marriage is simple. Your wife does whatever she wants and you do whatever she wants.”
Really? That’s what we think about love and agreeing to spend the rest of our lives with someone anymore? And it’s not just this one picture or thought floating around out there. It is hammered down our throats everywhere we look. There is a winner and a loser in marriage relationships. Fights are normal. Make sure you win, no matter the cost. There is an episode of the sitcom Friends that shows this same thought process. Monica and Chandler are discussing something, and Chandler thought they had already come to a decision. Monica, however, makes another decision. Chandler responds with something like, “but we’ve already discussed this and I won.” Monica’s response is the attitude I’m talking about here. She says, “…and now that you’re marrying me, you don’t get to win anymore.”
Like I said earlier, I’m not a marriage expert, but that attitude is not healthy. I know that most would argue that the picture above is something that was done as a joke. I would agree, at least I would like to think that. But even if that is the case, it eventually leads to a misperception about marriage. If you joke about something long enough and to enough people, you start to believe it, even if you never intended to in the first place. And the real issue is that a fellow Christ follower is the one that posted the picture. That’s not the Biblical picture of what marriage should be.
The same day I saw the pic above, I found what follows (shared by the same person). You see the difference right? Like the description says, it’s not about control. It’s about respect. Mutual respect. No one partner any more important than the other. A true partnership. There may be different roles in a marriage, but it should be a true partnership.
That’s what I see when I read the instructions for marriage throughout the New Testament. It’s not about the man being the dominant partner. It’s not about the woman being the dominant partner either. It’s about a true partnership. Let me share this with you. This is part of a wedding ceremony that I did last year. Names have been removed for privacy. It starts with a reading of Ephesians 5:21-33.
Let’s take a look at what Paul writes about marriage in his letter to the Ephesians. Reading from chapter 5:21-33;
21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
Over the years, this passage has been taken out of context and been used to say only that women should submit to men. But there is something so beautiful in this passage when you realize that Paul is actually giving equality to men and women in marriage. During the time of Paul, women were considered little more than property, so when Paul turned around and said that husbands were to love their wives as Christ loves the church, that was a radical new idea.
So, Groom, while it is true that Bride is encouraged to follow your lead, you are encouraged to love her sacrificially, putting her wants and needs in front of your own. You are encouraged to care for her. You are encouraged to love her with an unbreakable and unending love. And you are encouraged to love her in Christ.
Bride, the same can be said for you. You are encouraged to love Groom sacrificially, putting his wants and needs in front of your own. You are encouraged to care for him. You are encouraged to love him with an unbreakable and unending love. And you are encouraged to love him in Christ.
Marriage is not a competition between two people, and when we treat it like it is, even in a joking manner, we make a mockery of what God intended to be a life partnership. One that He uses to also describe the relationship that He wants with us. Christ followers, stop falling into the trap that society is perpetuating. Marriage is a beautiful thing. It is God-honoring when done correctly. We are to be helpmates to one another in our marriages, not fighting against each other to see who can “win”. When that is what we focus on, neither partner truly wins. It’s a loss across the board.