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5 reasons we CAN handle marriage

Written as a response to a piece by Anthony D’Ambrosio that appeared in the Asbury Park Press titled 5 reasons we can’t handle marriage anymore.

“There will be times in your marriage where you don’t feel loved, or validated. Today, it is easier than ever to fabricate validation. A Facebook post of our fancy clothes, or house, or baby, or dog, or even food will usually do the trick, with the right filter of course.”

How the heck do we make marriage work in today’s society? You may be wondering what gives me the right to share my opinions on marriage. I got married in 2012 and I am one of the many people who have failed at marriage daily.

That’s right, I’m a failure when it comes to marriage. I failed this morning when I was too selfish to open my eyes and say I love you back to my husband as he was leaving for work. I failed last night when I was too busy with my girlfriends to make my husband dinner. I failed last Friday on the volleyball court when I was too prideful and chose to interrupt my husband and snap, “don’t tell me what to do!” I could go on. And on. But I think you get the picture.

We, human beings, are not equipped to handle marriage, but we CAN  and here’s why:

1) Making love doesn’t make you love somebody

Believe it or not, there are more important things in a relationship than sex. Don’t get me wrong, sex is good. Married couples should have sex, and lots of it. But we should not idolize sex.

The other day I was talking to a dear friend about life. I was sharing some of my personal struggles with her. You know, family drama, the struggles of being an outgoing introvert, oh and my husband losing his job. Basic problems right? My friend, who is a single woman, leaned towards me with a confused look in her eye and said but you get to have sex!

Excuse me? As if sex makes my husband losing his job okay? Hold the phone.

There is more to life than sex. There is more to love than sex.

Sex is meant to be an outward expression of an inward affection. You have sex with someone BECAUSE you love him or her. You do not love someone because you’ve had sex with him or her.

Love is a choice. The greatest love story ever told involves an infinite, powerful God choosing to send his only son to earth, in order to live a perfect life, and then sacrifice EVERYTHING for us on the cross by dying.

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends – John 15:13

Love = a choice.

Love = sacrifice.

Make love by choosing to sacrifice yourself for your spouse. You CAN handle marriage if you set aside your selfishness and pride and choose to love your spouse even when it’s not easy.

You better believe that there is nothing that makes me want to rip my husband’s clothes off more than when I come home and he has vacuumed the floors because he knew I had a rough day at work. #Sacrifice #Sexy

Disclaimer: In no way am I trying to say that sex is bad. Sex is good. Not only is sex an act of worship, but its a medium of communication between you and your spouse. Sex can also be a litmus test of where your relationship is. Not having much sex? There is probably a reason. Pray into that.

2) Making money doesn’t make you happy

I’m just going to cut right to the chase on this one. People, if your circumstances dictate your joy, then you are in for one miserable life.

Yes, student loans often come in the form of a six figure debt. No, you may not be able to buy a home in your first year of marriage, or live comfortably. Yes, your pinteresting and pinning of pixie dream girl foyers may have to wait until you can pay off your student loans, and your car, and your big screen TV you bought on the credit card because you had to have it.

Let me let you in on a little secret.

Comfort is over rated.

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21

Just like marriage (and sex!), anything truly good is worth waiting and working for. #TreasuresInHeaven

If you doubt me on this, sell your big screen TV, hop on a plane to Africa, and go feed some orphans while living out of a tent for a month. I promise, you will come back realizing that there are more important things in life than comfort and money. Oh, and this will be great for your marriage. Because sacrifice. #FirstWorldProblems

3) Your cell phone doesn’t control you

It has been said that 95% of the personal conversations you have on a daily basis occur through some type of technology. We’ve removed human emotion from our relationships. In my opinion, the assumptions that our society functions this way are absurd.

Just because the world is a smartphone society doesn’t mean you have to let that ruin your relationships. My husband and I instant message occasionally throughout our respective work days. But when we get home, you won’t find us sitting next to each other on the couch, instant messaging each other. Okay, maybe I send him certain spontaneous emojis from the bathroom, but that’s just funny.

The truth is, my husband chose to ditch his smartphone when we got married. I must admit there are moments throughout my day when I think about how easy it would be to send my husband a Snapchat to help him understand how my day has been going. Instead, I wait until I get home and we have face to face discussions about our days.

Okay, I get it, ditching your smartphone may not be an option. But that’s what self control is for. I have a friend named Aly. She and her friends play this game they like to call repeat phone offenders, where they stack their phones on the table, face down, when they go out to eat. First one to touch their phone, picks up the check. It may sound silly (and honestly, they’ve never made anyone actually pay up), but it does make you stop and think, “Can this text/tweet/snapchat/Insta wait?” Be intentional and in the moment…face to face.

If your smartphone is literally hindering your relationship and communication skills to the point where 95% of personal conversations you have on a daily basis occur through some type of technology, then I have good news for you. You can ditch your smartphone too, even if it’s one meal at a time.

Your smartphone doesn’t control you. You control your smartphone. #BeSmarterThanYourSmartPhone

4) Your validation doesn’t have to come from your spouse. Or anyone else.

In “5 reasons marriage just doesn’t work anymore”, the blogger wrote,

“Social media, however, has given everyone an opportunity to be famous. Attention you couldn’t dream of getting unless you were celebrity is now a selfie away. Post a picture, and thousands of strangers will like it. Wear less clothing, and guess what? More likes.”

I agree with D’Ambrosio on this point. Our modern culture has embraced social media as the ultimate method of achieving (artificial) approval and validation.

People long to be validated. People long to be loved for who they are.

“What a man desires is unfailing love” – Proverbs 19:22

There will be times in your marriage where you don’t feel loved, or validated. Today, it is easier than ever to fabricate validation. A Facebook post of our fancy clothes, or house, or baby, or dog, or even food will usually do the trick, with the right filter of course. It can be all too easy to get wrapped up in seeking validation from society whenever you don’t feel that validation from your spouse.

And if that’s you, I have some bad news for you. Neither society, nor your spouse will ever be able to 100% validate you.

You can have the greatest marital relationship in the world, but that doesn’t change the reality that you, at your very core, were created for a type of validation that no flawed human can possibly ever provide.

I have some good news for you. There is a perfect God who loves you perfectly. He died for you, to save you. If you ask me, that is the most validating news I’ve ever heard.god loves you for who you are because he sees you through the perfect shed blood of Christ.

“Perfect love casts out fear.” 1 John 4:18

When you grasp that you are loved by the creator of the universe, the obsession/the fear of what society might think about you should instantly vanish. You are perfect in the eyes of God, so what does it matter how you look in anyone else’s eyes?

When you grasp that you are validated because Christs’ blood covers you, you are now freed up to do two things: 

  1. Stop seeking validation from others,
  2. Validate and edify others.

Find your validation in Christ, and your endless cycle of seeking validation from others ends.

5) Let’s be honest. I didn’t actually have 5 reasons we CAN handle marriage in mind when I started writing this blog post. I only had 1 reason. The Gospel.

When I read D’Ambrosio’s blog, it made me frustrated because he writes with such a worldly framework. Yes, he is a secular relationship blogger who writes successful columns, so I wouldn’t expect a gospel centered perspective from him. But Christians, the gospel has so much more to offer us.

Jesus conquered THE GRAVE. You better believe he can conquer our circumstances. Our insecurities. Our pride. Our selfishness. Our smartphones. In fact, he already has conquered all of these things and more. Let’s live like it.

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” Galatians 5:1

We are free to have healthy & happy marriages because Christ died for us. We are free to love sacrificially because Christ sacrificed everything for us. We are free to live uncomfortably because Jesus endured the greatest discomfort for us. We are free to have a personal relationship with one another because Christ died so that we could have a personal relationship with God. We are free to overflow with validation towards our spouses and friends because Christ shed his blood to validate us in the eyes of God.

The only reason we can NOT handle the God given institution of marriage is because we all too often remove God from marriage. Marriage wasn’t designed to be a contract between two people. Contracts are practically begging to be broken. Marriage was designed to be a covenant that emulates Christ’s covenant with his bride, the church. You can’t handle marriage. But Christ can. There is no 5 step process to help you handle marriage.

There is only the Gospel.

-Leah Brown

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