So you say “I want a godly marriage, but how?”
The answer is two fold. First, chose to be concerned about the same things God is concerned about. Second, learn to utilize God’s strategy for making your marriage what He wants it to be.
First Piece of Godly Marriage Advice: Focus your attention on the things God is concerned with in your marriage.
God’s highest priority is His glory. Because God is concerned with His glory, He is always concerned with conforming His children to be more like His Son Jesus (Romans 8:29).
God’s number one priority needs to be your number one priority.
The more we act like, think like, relate like Jesus, the more glory God gets. God is in the glory business. His modus operandi is to glorify Himself. So what should we be concerned about? Our number one priority needs to be whether we are bringing God glory in our marriage relationship. Notice I didn’t say, the number one priority should be whether your spouse is bringing God glory.
Glory shines out of the heart and is always seen and recognized by God.
So bringing glory to God has everything to do with thinking godly thoughts and behaving in godly ways.
But you say, “glory to God, how can I even think about bringing glory to God when I have a self-centered spouse who complains all the time, is critical, doesn’t love me or understand me, and that makes me miserable, angry, depressed, frustrated etc.” Good question! That’s where your understanding God’s strategy is critical.
Second Piece of Godly Marriage Advice: You must understand God’s strategy for bring glory to His Name
God’s strategy is to use the difficulties in our lives to chisel the likeness of Jesus out of the hardness of our hearts. He does it by bringing two people together who are most likely going to have the greatest impact on each other in this way. Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpen another.”
We tend to think, “this is not the person I married. He or she hardly bears any resemblance to the person I married.” Again this is part of God’s design and the fall. Prior to marriage two people are not “one flesh.” Generally speaking there is a veil over our eyes during the dating period. That veil is not torn away until we become one flesh. That is why sometime after we get married, we start seeing our spouse differently. As our lives settle into a routine and we are not giving each other the kind of undivided attention and consideration that often happens during courtship, when we stop being the center of our loved one’s universe our perception of them also begins to change.
Third Piece of Godly Marriage Advice: Change your perception change your marriage
Our perception is the lens of beliefs through which we understand and interpret actions and interactions with other people. David cried out to God “Give me a pure heart.” Likewise we would do well to ask God for the same thing. Our beliefs are hidden deep within our heart and they act like a lens through which the events in our life are understood …accurately or inaccurately.
Our perceptions are largely shaped by our early experiences: especially messages about ourselves communicated to us by significant others in our lives like parents, teachers, caretakers, siblings etc. The other factors that influence our perception (aka, “the eyes of our heart”) is the fall. We are created with sinful, prideful, selfish hearts.
Many of the problems we have in marriage are actually the result of projecting our own cognitive distortions and unfinished business onto our spouse. This often results in misreading our spouse’s motives and making negative assumptions about their thoughts or intentions. When this happens it’s natural to begin to feel that our spouse is not on our side.
Tear Down Every Stronghold
So the third piece of godly marriage advice is understand that God’s strategy is to tear down every stronghold, every misconception and every cognitive distortion in our minds — He tells us in His word that we are to take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5 and that we are to be transformed by the renewing of our mind. This process of sanctification happens as we wash our minds with the water of the Word and the Holy Spirit applies it to our hearts.