What does your marriage need? Maybe acceptance, security, trust, kindness, peace, a tender touch, a listening ear, or companionship? These all seem like reasonable expectations until we realize our needs differ from our spouse’s needs.   
Tammy and I are beyond the 25-year mark, and the things we need in our marriage today are not that different from what we needed when we were first married.  We just weren’t on the same page back then.  There was little agreement, and lots of misunderstandings. We knew, without a doubt, that God brought us together so we “just needed to figure this out”. Thank the Lord we held on, we fought, but we held on. 

We thought we needed many things, and hoped our spouse would meet those needs.  Without realizing it, at the core of what we really needed was to be fully known and unconditionally loved. What we each needed was permission to be who God created us to be. 

A desire to change your spouse is at the root of marital conflict. How does the thing you love about your girlfriend/boyfriend become the thing you dislike about your wife/husband? He loved my free spirit, but not when it meant the house was sometimes messy. She loved my ability to know what I wanted in life except when it wasn’t what she wanted. 

Where does the ability to love that way come from? We think we are pretty lovable.  We seek to provide for the needs of our spouse the way we would want our needs met. All too often we are sadly disappointed. We just don’t have the ability to love an imperfect person without, first, recognizing and receiving that kind of love ourselves.  That’s what God offers!

While dating, Tammy and I were really only together on the weekends. This meant that we could date all weekend long. From the moment I arrived in Naples, Fl on a Friday, we were exploring and going from one adventure to another. Sunday night came along, and our goodbyes were difficult, but we knew we would soon have a lifetime together. No more long distance relationship.

We get married and have to face the reality that we no longer have one another’s undivided attention. This became really clear when we would get into the car to run errands and Tammy would bring magazines and books to read in the car while we were out. Very different from when we were dating. We relished every minute together. We talked about everything! Now, here we are only in our first year of marriage, and the divide has begun. How could I not be at the center of her world anymore?

Funny, but it definitely led to quite a few heated discussions. Conflict seemed to rear it’s ugly head more often than we wanted. It was becoming easier to walk parallel paths than to walk as one in unity. Giving in meant we would have to spend a lifetime not having our needs met. Selfishness drove our very performance based marriage.

We needed something, but we were unable to grasp exactly what that was until…

We recognized our need to move away from looking within ourselves and begin looking to God who clearly explains why He created marriage! God’s Purpose.

We thought we were married for love and companionship. Neither one of us wanted to be alone.  We wanted to be loved and cherished for who we were as individuals.  We bought into the lie that our spouse “would complete us”. We didn’t identify the need for purpose in our marriage, and the importance of looking to God to love the way He loves.   

God’s three fold purpose found in Genesis chapter 1 and 2 clearly provides the reason God puts a man and woman together in the covenant relationship of marriage. 

Our purpose is to:

Reflect the image of God

Reproduce a godly heritage

Reign in spiritual warfare 

Lots of kids throughout the first 15 years of marriage brought its share of laughter and joy with some underlying feelings of neglect and resentment. We clearly did not understand each other. We fully believed our purpose was specific for our marriage.  We were “called to full-time vocational ministry”.  

At the same time, we were both fully-aware that our family came first.So, we divided and conquered. That was the lie we lived by. Both of us were protecting our personal calling. All that seemed fine until the resentments rose to the surface. WE DIDN’T WANT TO DO IT ALONE.

Our purpose to reflect the Godhead in our unity (becoming one) was definitely not being lived out in our marriage but we thought we were doing ok. 

We didn’t hate each other.  We loved each other deeply, but we were drifting apart. 

While we were well meaning in our pursuit of our relationship with God, and at least trying in our relationship with one another, we weren’t really aiming at the same target.  We needed to know, understand, and live out God’s purpose in our marriage, and together pursue God’s purpose for our relationship. 

This principle is foundational and any Christian marriage cannot afford to be unaware of their need to embrace God’s purpose for their marriage.

We needed God then, and still need Him now, more than ever!

Follow up:

  1. Read Genesis 1:26-31
  2. What needs to change in your marriage to better mirror the oneness of the Godhead?
  3. Does conflict in your marriage keep you from being able to focus on reproducing (discipleship)?  Reproducing is both literal through parenting and figurative through spiritual discipleship.
  4. Do you recognize the spiritual battle taking place to bring division in your marriage?
  5. Have you identified the real enemy?  (Hint:  It’s not your spouse.)

Christian Family Life is a marriage discipleship ministry. We are here to offer resources and support no matter what condition your marriage is in. Our passion is to Build, Enrich, and Reconcile Marriages. Find out more at https://www.christianfamilylife.com/

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