Marriage does have an art to it. A married couple is a work of art that the world gets to see. The couple is on display, whether they mean to be or not. I’ve been thinking about marriage a lot lately because my sister and her hubby just renewed their vows after 10 years of a marriage and a couple of good friends of mine just got married last weekend! I’ve been married now 7 years and have grown a ton in my understanding of life, love and marriage!
Below is the encouragement I was honored to give my sister and her husband earlier this month. I’ve tweaked it a little bit, but I think it really sums up the Art of being married!
If I had to sum up my thoughts on what makes a good marriage, the words: self-sacrificing and service come immediately to mind. Ephesians 5:22-33 is the perfect example of this—->READ IT HERE There we see what God says should be included in a healthy marriage and the ideas of self-sacrifice and service are the heartbeat of the art behind marriage.
When we were united with Christ, we became His and no longer our own. Marriage, being the greatest picture of our salvation is the same way. When we are married, we are united and although we maintain our individuality we are no longer just our own person, we belong to another. Sometimes what we want to do or where we want to go is not the best for the whole family, so we must sacrifice self. As Husbands and wives, self-sacrifice and service are the best forms of displaying our love for one another and one of the best ways to experience the love our spouse has for us.
Wives, part of your self sacrifice is trusting that God is speaking to your spouse and following his lead when he says God is moving us here or there. Husbands, we are not to abuse this trust and if we do, may God deal with us ever so severely, because our call to self sacrifice is to serve our brides, protect our brides and be willing to lay it all on the line for their behalf. We are called to such a steep level of commitment that we should be willing to lay our lives down in service and sacrifice to our brides. If we love our brides so deeply, with such commitment they will have no fear in following our lead, knowing that we will fight to the bitter end protecting them.
So my advice to Men and Women as they make or renew their vows is to start or to renew their dedication to self-sacrifice and service of one another and to God. For Men to love the Lord and their wives so fiercely that they would be willing to lay down everything, their hopes, their dreams and their desires and even their very lives in listening to the Lord as well as leading and protecting their bride. For Women: to see their Husband’s love for them and the Lord and to completely trust both God and their husbands to lead well and to guard them well, for them to let go of her desire to control and give the Lord and their Lover the wheel as she enjoys the ride!
As men, we are called to love our wives fiercely and tenderly; to lead them towards Jesus and to serve them as they need. Too little of this goes on today and it must change. Men in our current society have been coddled too long and are overly selfish, we expect our wives to always serve us and our needs without paying close attention to theirs. This my friends is a dire mistake. Marriage is an art and both sexes have an equal part in painting the picture, but as men we can take all the brushes for ourselves and paint a really crummy picture or we can co-labor with our wives and paint something beautiful. The other option is to opt out of painting at all and force all the brushes on the wife and make her paint the picture all by herself. She will do so (as so many women have in the past) but her heart is to co-labor alongside of us and paint together.
Let’s not selfishly dominate or abdicate…let’s participate. Let us as men learn the art of sacrifice the way Jesus taught it…not the way most fundamentalists teach today. Let’s truly learn what it means to serve our brides…not just demand they serve us. Co-laboring is harder than dominating or abdicating, but the picture that is painted is truly a work of art!
Looking for some marriage resources? The best book on marriage I’ve ever read is called: Love and War by John and Stasi Eldredge
Here’s a Helpful Link on “3 Ways to Keep Your Marriage Growing” I think it’s also a good resource.