Your marriage covenant is not an entitlement. And you should not take it for granted. You don’t get to say vows before a minister and expect that to be your guarantee to lifelong marriage. It takes more than that.
I believe many marriages suffer from abuse and/or neglect because people treat their marriage covenant as an entitlement. Their hunt is over. They caught their prey. Now they don’t have to give their marriage the same work as they did when they were dating. When their former boyfriend or girlfriend had the freedom to walk away.
We believe in covenant 100%
Marriage is a covenant that husbands and wives shouldn’t break. While at the same time, we believe this covenant is much more than a promise to stay together. It is a promise to love one another with all the depth and fullness of what love really means. It is a promise to honor and respect each other. And it is a promise to cherish one another until death do you part. It is NOT a promise to force each other to stay until death sets you free.
Looking back after all these years I’m still trying to learn from the experiences we had with our own marriage troubles. What did we do wrong? And what did we did right? Those are the questions I’m constantly asking myself as I look for ways to help minister to others.
When I quit using covenant as a weapon.
I thought I did everything right when I fought for the third time to save my marriage. We were in our tenth year of marriage. We survived the first two times of crisis just by the sheer grace of God. If it wasn’t for a few circumstances falling into place we could have easily seen the end of our marriage way before we hit the third crisis.
That third crisis I stood firmly on the grounds that my marriage was a covenant before God. I believed I had a right and an obligation to fight for my marriage. It was a challenging time and I learned a lot through the experience. But as in a lot of cases in life, my own ignorance and arrogance become my downfall. I didn’t know at the time, but I had successfully used my marriage covenant as a weapon to guilt my wife into staying married to me.
Then our marriage hit rock bottom again 8 years later and once again we were heading towards divorce. Only this time I didn’t use the same methods of trying to guilt my wife into honoring our marriage covenant. I was broke from that, (which I will share in another post one day.) This time, I stood on nothing more than hope. A hope that we could rebuild our marriage because I could finally see my wife and our marriage in a way I had never seen before.
I started seeing my wife as a gift from God and no longer as someone obligated to stay with me. And because of that, our marriage has been able to heal and grow stronger and stronger every day since.
Your spouse is a gift with a free will
If you really thought of your spouse as someone with a free will to choose, how would that affect the way you treat him/her? Just like you did when you were dating, you should give your spouse a reason to choose you. Don’t use your marriage covenant as something you can use to force your spouse to stay with you.
God could have made us without a free will, where we had to have a relationship with Him and we had to live exactly as He created us to live. But He didn’t. He created us with a free will. He knew the relationship He desired with us had to come from our free will to choose Him over not choosing Him.
This is why the bible teaches us that God inhabits the praise of His people. He doesn’t desire our worship to satisfy His ego. He desires our worship because He longs to have a relationship with us. So when we worship Him we are inviting Him to come closer to us. Remember King David and how God called him a man after His own heart. Because David out of his own free will wanted a deep relationship with God.
So back to marriage.
To experience the full joy of marriage husbands and wives must treat each other as a precious gift. A gift you don’t take for granted. That you know you have a very limited time to enjoy. A gift that has a right of their own free will and has chosen you to be with. And someone you are so thankful for, you want to continue to give him/her a reason to choose you over and over, every single day for the rest of your lives.
Image courtesy of Phaendin at FreeDigitalPhotos.net