“Live together in the forgiveness of your sins, for without it no human fellowship, least of all a marriage, can survive.”
– Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison
If you are a professing Christian who is married, prayerfully consider the following:
1. You are married to a sinner.
Rom. 3:23: “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
2. Your spouse is married to a sinner.
Eccl. 7:20: “Indeed, there is not a righteous person on earth who continually does good and who never sins.”
“Couples who see what rules them – cravings for affection, attention, power, vindication, control, comfort, a hassle-free life – can repent and find God’s grace made real to them, and then learn how to make peace.” – David Powlison, Seeing With New Eyes: Counseling and the Human Condition Through the Lens of Scripture, p. 151
3. Expect and accept that you and your spouse will sin against each other.
Rom. 7:18: “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.”
4. Be proactive at forgiving—and restoring—one another.
Eph. 4:32: “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”
“Marriage is a momentary gift. It may last a lifetime, or it may be snatched away on the honeymoon. Either way, it is short. It may have many bright days, or it may be covered with clouds. If we make secondary things primary, we will be embittered at the sorrows we must face. But if we set our face to make of marriage mainly what God designed it to be, no sorrows and no calamities can stand in our way. Every one of them will be, not an obstacle to success, but a way to succeed. The beauty of the covenant-keeping love between Christ and his church shines brightest when nothing but Christ can sustain it.”
— John Piper, This Momentary Marriage: A Parable of Permanence, p. 178
5. Don’t ever confuse wants with needs—ever.
Matt. 6:25: “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?”
“We are saints who sin. The era in which we live – on the far side of Christ’s sacrifice for sins and his sending of the Spirit to us – is not sin-free. It is condemnation-free and full of forgiveness, and it is an era when we are no longer slaves to sin and are liberated and empowered to fight against it. But it is not sin-free.” — Edward T. Welch, Caring For One Another: 8 Ways to Cultivate Meaningful Relationships
6. Only God can perfectly and consistently satisfy all your needs.
Phil. 4:19: “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”
“Marriage under the Lordship of Christ is a mutually sanctifying relationship – it moves us toward holiness.” – R. Kent Hughes, Disciplines of a Godly Man
7. Your spouse is not God.
Isa. 45:5: “I am the Lord, and there is no other; besides Me there is no God.”
8. Do not weigh your spouse down with unrealistic expectations of him or her.
Jas. 3:14: “But if you have bitter jealously and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth.”
To sum up:
“…walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” — Eph. 4:1b-3 (NASB)
Humbly in Christ,