I have been married to Susie since June of 1985. We dated five years before we got married.
She was my high school sweetheart; she’s my best friend; and she is without exception the most important person in my life.
I have no problem admitting that. I honestly think it’s what God intended.
Even though Adam existed in perfect unity with God in Eden, God still detected incompleteness in him. His solution to that incompleteness wasn’t anything that he had already created–man or beast. His solution was something new, something unique, something very much like Adam but at the same time very different.
God’s solution to Adam’s incompleteness was Eve. Stated differently, God’s solution to man’s incompleteness was woman.
I see that reality in my life every day. Susie is so much of what I’m not. Her way of looking at the world, her talents and spiritual gifts, her wiring and passions, all challenge and complement mine.
I’m a much better man for being married to Susie. I am living proof of the wisdom of God’s plan for marriage. I imagine many of you are too.
Here are three reasons why God intends for your spouse to be the most important person in your life.
- God wants you to learn to put another person before yourself. Before Eve, Adam had no peer before whom he could humble himself. He ruled over the animal world and he worshipped God as his creator. He didn’t have an equal.
When Eve came along, he gained an equally created peer and partner. He also gained someone to serve.
Marriage is a crash course in deference. It teaches us to yield, over and against our instincts and the mantras of culture that push us to yield to no one. Marriage teaches us to serve someone who may or may not choose to serve us back. It teaches us to humble ourselves and to serve for our own growth and maturity, not just for the well being of our spouse.
One of the verses I pray daily for my marriage is Ephesians 5:21: And be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.
That verse commands me to honor and defer to Susie, not because I feel like it or want Susie to reciprocate, but out of reverence for Jesus. That’s God’s plan. That’s how I grow.
- Your relationship with your spouse changes you. It’s supposed to. My daily relationship with Susie rounds off my rough edges. Living with Susie for over three decades has had immeasurable positive impact in my life. It’s like a daily visit to a plastic surgeon, where I’m nipped and tucked and trimmed to look a little more like Jesus.
- Praying nightly with Susie, even when neither of us feels like it
- Working out our financial priorities together, and then having the integrity to stick with them
- Modeling for our children what a biblical marriage looks like–and in my case, what it looks like to be a biblical husband
- Pushing through conflict in a God-honoring fashion
- Having a marriage mission that is bigger than either of us
- Comforting and encouraging her in illness, fatigue, fear, and even grief
- Being comforted and encouraged by her other in my own illness, sin, depression, fatigue, failure, and grief
- Having to be repeatedly forgiven for being a complete idiot
- Seeing the world through her eyes
- Being sharpened by her spiritual gifts
- Watching her grow in her walk with Jesus and being challenged to not be left behind
Each of these things, and countless others, make Susie by far the person who impacts me the most on a daily basis.
And God intends the same for you.
- Your spouse gives you a direct object for God’s covenant love. I can’t love God the way he loves me. We’re not equals. God’s love for me is the holy loving the unholy, the infinite loving the finite. I can’t love God that way.
God’s covenant of love with me is totally one-sided. He loves me with no limits, exceptions or conditions. He loves me whether I return is love or not. And again, there’s no way I can love God like that. We’re not equals. We’re not peers.
But I can and am commanded to love Susie that way. Being married to Susie gives me an outlet for God’s covenant love. It gives me someone to love the way God loves me.
I’m called to practice a totally one-sided love for Susie. I’m called to love her because God expects me to, not because I think she deserves it or will return it. I’m commanded to love her with no limits, exceptions or conditions.
Loving someone with covenant love changes you. It humbles you. It’s the daily reminder of the differences between covenant love and the cheap, what’s-in-it-for-me selfishness that our culture has mistaken for love.
Choosing to love Susie as God loves (and Susie doing the same) gives us the opportunity to experience firsthand the love that Christ has for his Church. It allows us to experience and model the great mystery that is covenant love. It invites us to preach about the mercy and grace of God, and his unconditional love for us, without ever saying a word.
And most curiously, loving Susie as Christ commands me to actually makes me love her more. Covenant love doesn’t make me less enamored with Susie, it makes me more enamored with her. As I love her the way God requires, I actually find her more attractive, not less. I find that I want to serve her and put her first instead of feeling like I have to.
I find myself yearning for her more, not less.
In short, covenant love teaches me more about romantic love, about relational love, and about marriage love. Covenant love hasn’t muted my desires for Susie, it’s compounded them.
I hope these thoughts encourage you to look at your marriage differently. Instead of griping about what your spouse isn’t, start thanking God for what he or she is.
Instead of trying to change your spouse, practice covenant love towards him or her. You’ll find that the spouse you’ve always wanted has been there all along.
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