Is Your Marriage Message Mixed-Up?

By on July 19, 2012

After this post, I will be on a summer blog break for a few weeks. I wish you a summer of rest, renewal, and joy with the people with you love. Blessings!
Did you start off your marriage really knowing which way to go?

If you did, that’s great! Many people didn’t have such a wise and wonderful head-start to their marriages.

And I was one of those many people!

I was not a Christian before I got married, so I didn’t know anything about the Biblical model for marriage. My model for marriage was what I had seen in my family and friends’ marriages, in marriage therapy textbooks, and in the media.

As a result, my confusion actually started at the proposal.

Here’s what happened:

After just under a year of dating, my then-boyfriend-now-husband proposed to me suddenly (I felt).

He started off by saying my name so seriously that I was sure it meant I was about to be bitten by a large, stinging insect. I was not expecting a marriage proposal at all.

Because I was surprised, there was not much time to process or filter this new information. Two knee jerk responses popped immediately into my head.

The first was what I call the Passionate Marriage Message. It sounded something like this: “Go for it! You know all you need to know, and, baby, all you need is love! Which way to the chapel?”

The second was what I call the Practical Marriage Message. To me, it sounded like this: “Stop right there! Exactly how long have you known this person? You need to carefully weigh the pros and cons – go to the bathroom and stall for time!”

That’s why from the outside, all he could see was a blank, confused look on my face. I didn’t say anything right away because I was stuck in the middle of these two Marriage Messages.

My husband says it was one of the few times since he’s met me that I was actually at a loss for words.

I was torn between the Practical Marriage Message and the Passionate Marriage Message.

Looking back now, as a Christian and after 17 years of marriage, I realize that the Practical Marriage Message puts too little hope in love. We are ultimately created, by God, for love and relationship! As a result, the practical marriage runs dry. It falls far short of what our hearts are made for.

Yet the Passionate Marriage Message puts too much hope in love. The chills and thrills of new love inevitably calm down. And so the passionate marriage struggles under the weight of unrealistic expectations for excitement, fireworks, and non-stop romance.

Well.

What’s a bride to do?

In my case, it’s all about what He has done. By God’s gracious mercy, I came to know Christ in the early years of our marriage. And my perspective changed 180 degrees.

Instead of looking to Practical or Passionate Marriage Message, I now look to the Biblical Marriage Message.

The Biblical Marriage Message says that marriage does not exist so that we can get either our practical or passionate needs met.

Instead, God wants us to first come to Him to get all of our deepest needs met. Our needs for security, for meaning, and yes, for love.

Once we are filled by Him, we can turn to our spouses looking to fill their lives. God asks us to give of ourselves fully to our spouses: emotionally, physically, fiscally, legally, culturally. A whole lot of -ally’s.

He wants us to live out, with our spouses, the same kind of love He has for us!

It’s a tall order.

It involves daily work, effort, and purposefulness. It involves having a mindset of looking for opportunities to give and forgive. Every marriage, like every person, is unique. It will play out differently in each of our unions. And it will also change as the seasons of your lives change.

I am not saying that I have this all nailed down – I definitely do not!

But knowing what God’s vision is for my marriage makes a big difference in how I approach it.

Not on my own strength, but instead fueled by Christ’s love for me.

It’s a lifelong process and journey, but through God’s grace, every day I am able to take a step forward in my marriage.

And so can you!

Question:What Marriage Messages have you heard? Which do you find yourself following?

Warmly,

Dr. Ann

 

Originally posted on The Marriage Checklist.

About Dr. Ann

Dr. Ann is a Christian M.D., wife to a fantastic husband, and mom to a lively gang of three. At The Marriage Checklist Ann blogs about marriage, motherhood, and more! She helps women build better life balance and grow great marriages. Ann blogs on Crosswalk.com, and has been featured on BlogHer.com, Fox news, and Good Morning America. She loves that every day we can choose to take our best steps forward – for God, for the people in our lives, and for ourselves. You can read more from Dr. Ann at TheMarriageChecklist.com.

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Is Your Marriage Message Mixed-Up?