It is said, “Marriages are made in heaven,” but in reality, they are lived elsewhere. They are lived amid the whirl of daily activity. They struggle to survive financial shortfalls. They suffer the pains of betrayal. As a result, people are hurting. There is disillusionment with marriage in our age. I don’t know of any relationship where high expectations can be met with such bitter disappointment as in marriage. Many will admit what they settled for is a far cry from what they hoped for in their marriage.
What is needed is a return to God’s original intent. In a time before selfishness and sin fractured relationships, marriage was seen in its ideal state. The Divine Architect of marriage outlined its purpose and parameters, and in so doing laid a foundation upon which great marriages can thrive in any generation.
Companionship: “I Need You.”
One of the keys to having a great marriage is to understand its purpose is companionship. Marriage blossoms between two people who really need each other. The only thing “not good” in all of God’s creation was man being alone (Gen. 2:18). God used the disabling power of loneliness to create a thirst for companionship in the man. God paraded every living thing in front of him to show that nothing could take the place of the woman.
Then God created the woman in the most intimate way imaginable, from the rib of the man. Adam immediately recognized his need for Eve and his unique bond with her, and exclaimed, “This is now bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh.” (Gen. 2:23). He needed her. She needed him. They were alike, yet wonderfully different. They were uniquely created for companionship: sexually, emotionally, and spiritually.
The problem is our current society works against the pursuit of companionship. Husbands and wives rush out in their own cars, hurry to their own jobs, and chase after their own interests. Like marbles in a bag, they scrape up against each other occasionally and make a little noise, but otherwise they live in their own spheres.
We will never experience the joy of marriage until we understand we need each other. The woman needs the sacrificial love of her husband, and the husband needs the supportive admiration of his wife (Eph. 5:22-33). The husband and wife do not live in isolation. They are “one body.” They need each other. One of the quickest ways to strengthen your marriage is to let your spouse know how much you need them.
Loyalty: “I Am Yours Alone.”
In contrast, one of the quickest ways to destroy your marriage is to meet your needs in someone other than your spouse. Adam and Eve only had eyes for each other. There was no comparison, no choice. Eve did not long for Adam to be as good looking as a sports star. Adam wasn’t unsatisfied with Eve because she did not have the figure of a model. There was no insecurity in their relationship. They were solely committed to each other.
Unlike that first couple, we live in a society that constantly bombards us with choices and comparisons. Many give up on their marriage whenever they think they have found something better. But marriage is not about having the prettiest, strongest, and most charming spouse. It is about loving and committing yourself to the one you have, completely! This provides a security in marriage that paves the way for deep relationship and trust. Husbands and wives need to tell each other, “You are the only one for me,” and mean it, not just as some romantic sentiment, but as a “take it to the bank” fact.
Do not even entertain the alternatives in your mind. Do not run down your spouse in front of others. Communicate that you only have eyes for your spouse. Mean what you vowed, “I give myself to you, and you only, till death do us part.”
Honesty: “You Can Trust Me.”
A marriage with that kind of security is then ready for honesty. Within the borders of a committed relationship a transforming honesty can exist. You can express your fears and find help. You can reveal your faults and be healed. You can offer correction and be heard. Such honesty allows you to mature as a person and strengthens your relationship like nothing else. Conversely, when actions and ambitions are hidden, the icy silence slowly kills the trust upon which the marriage feeds.
For a time, the first couple knew nothing of deception. “They were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed” (Gen. 2:25). Since there was no sin, there was nothing to hide. They had no inhibitions. It was only after sin entered the picture that people became skilled in the art of the cover up.
The security of marriage is to provide a place where we can be honest and transparent with someone else. Where we can say, “You can trust me.”
Spirituality: “I Love the Lord First.”
A great marriage is ultimately built on God, not people. Adam and Eve’s relationship was great because it was a spiritual relationship. They both had perfect fellowship with God. If you are committed to your marriage as long as your spouse pleases you, then you will quickly give up. The only thing humans are good at is imperfection.
In fact, God did not make your spouse to meet all your needs! Our most important needs can only be satisfied in God. Only in Him do we find true fellowship, forgiveness, authority, and hope. This is why great marriages are made up of two people pursing God. The closer they grow to Him, the closer they grow to each other. They are devoted to each other despite all their flaws, because they are first devoted to their Lord who is perfect in love. People in great marriages are heard to say, “I will love you best, when I love the Lord first.”
“Let all that you do be done in love” (1 Cor. 16:14)