An epic Christian marriage?
Is this even possible?
What would that even mean? What would it look like?
If you are like me you can think of a couple, maybe two couples that have that “epic Christian” thing going on. They hold hands, everyone looks up to them. They are well groomed and in sync. They appear to have no struggles – not financial, not with their children, their waistlines, their tan lines, or their social lives. No struggles.
They lead, they don’t follow. Their 401K and their vacations are impeccably structured. There is no one that compares, well, except their best friends. Who they play golf and tennis with at the club. After which, they drink bloody marys and talk about their investments and their kids, who are just as perfect.
If and when they meet with a trial they deal with it with absolute precision.
You attribute this to their perfected walk with the Lord and their bank statement.
If only. If only they would share their formula for such bliss. Oh but wait, they do. They teach the married couples Sunday morning class, and it is very obvious, they are perfect.
They recommend kissing hello and goodbye, praying before bed, meals, and before they part ways in the morning. She asks him for the debit card to get a new blouse, and he takes her car to fill it up and wash it, once a week. They eat paleo (organic no less,) walk three miles in the morning, and drink coffee on the front porch whilst reading the paper…. Taking intermediate breaks to look into each other’s eyes – adoringly.
They’ve got what you want. Your husband? He barely notices their epicness. You may mention or suggest it, and he says something like… “I wonder who does their financial planning?” Or if the situation is even further off base, your man has never met them because he doesn’t go to church with you. The spectrum by which you compare yourself to them is as wide a the Grand Canyon.
If only your hubby would…
If only you were…
If only your kids could…
Yes, two become one. Yes, there is tons of advice in the Bible on how I can be… How he can be. Certainly, this formula or that one will get us to that place of restful bliss where we are wholeheartedly in love and #Jesusapproved.
In my mind, I wander to a grass hut, in a grass hut village with grass hut dwellers. The economy is coconuts. There are designated jobs that make the village run smoother. We share in gemsbuck pelts and bone necklaces. There is no measure of wealth by education or neighborhood. If you can make fire and catch a fish, you are prosperous.
Whose marriage is better than mine in this place?
And in this village, a missionary stops by and tells us about the saving love of Jesus. We hear and believe.
Still, our means of survival do not change. We do not subscribe to the notion of the man leading, he always leads. His role was hunter and gatherer. Her role is bread making, basket weaving, and child rearing.
Absent of a class system and a “perfected” Christian walk, whose marriage is better or worse than mine?
These things that set us back in our marriages are often simply ghosts of what we think is perfect here in the land of plenty.
So, the first tip in achieving an epic Christian marriage is to stop comparing your marriage to ANYONE else’s marriage. I propose it is a waste of energy and emotion. I submit it robs us of precious time and makes us jealous, ungrateful, and unhappy.
To compare is to wish or want for something that is not part of God’s story for us… or our husbands. In this place of appraisal, we are more unhappy and more unsettled. We are more focused on their shortcomings or the other couple’s awesomeness and less focused on Jesus. We are more absorbed on someone else’s relationship, someone else’s husband rather than on our own. I further submit that this place of want is an abode of betrayal.
There is no “little” betrayal.
And I yield to this; it is the only time comparison in marriage is good. A grocery store manager was flirting with me. It was fun to be noticed. He always insisted on taking my groceries out, and I would “accidentally “ see him on nearly every aisle. Harmless? Well, the comparative is this: how would I feel to know that Justin was anxiously waiting to see another woman, no matter how casually?
I would be devastated.
I have never been back to this store. Not once.
To the other end, when inviting this type of flirtation, it opens pandora’s box of questions for my sacramental marriage which has no room for this nonsense. “My husband never asks me what kind of perfume I am wearing????” To even most innocently compare my husband with another man is another form of betrayal. This is my guy. And making the choice to wholly focus on him as my husband is the only option.
Comparison breeds discontentment.
MARRIAGE VS. SOCIAL MEDIA I cannot tire of saying this… DO NOT CHAT ON FACEBOOK WITH YOUR X BEAU or “FRIEND” on social media! I currently have FOUR acquaintances in divorce proceedings because of Facebook interactions. Two cheated, two were cheated on. This space of secrecy ends in brokenness. The convenience of “HEY! I HAVEN’T SEEN YOU IN AGES!” is the gateway to destruction. And I would bet my favorite pair of jeans those conversations leave people comparing their spouse to this person and induce feelings of want and discrimination that are not a welcomed part of any marriage.
If you would not pen a note, address an envelope, attach a stamp, load the kids into your van, drive to the post office and mail a letter to another man… why would you engage in correspondence with one online? The effort it takes to communicate does not make the offense any less.
One of my friend’s whose marriage is ending because of her infidelity on Facebook with her college boyfriend, started with a conversation in Messenger where she and the old friend were making fun of their spouses. She explains, “I remember typing a statement about my husband to this other man, ‘If I use more than one exclamation point in a text, he writes back, ‘WHY ARE YOU YELLING AT ME????’” He sent back the message ‘LOL, ’ and that was the beginning of the end. I thought, Ty never laughs at what I say… he probably doesn’t even know what LOL means??? After four weeks of messaging we met for coffee, two weeks later we were meeting in hotels. When Ty found out he immediately filed for divorce and for custody of our kids. I didn’t even care because I wanted to be with my rediscovered love. Once my Facebook lover learned of my impending divorce he said, ‘Sorry, I can’t leave my family.’ I destroyed my family and it all started in a “harmless conversation” on Facebook.”
The second tip for an epic Christian marriage is to stop believing your role as wife negated your role as daughter.
And yes, I say this about motherhood too. But, believing your marriage disavows God’s investment in you as an individual beloved child is to negate your inheritance. Justin is known by God. I am known and loved by God. Again, two become one – however, in God’s eyes, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3:28.)
And this oneness is us as His beloved children counted worthy by our belief. In our Christianese dialect, we are ignoring this and wholly focusing on submission as key to our “perfect” marriages. However, the entire context of the lie of submission is the line right before: Submit to one another out of respect for Christ.
Submission is to put anyone before yourself. We are used to this with our children, they always get the last French fry. To chose this, to chose the compassion of always looking out for others first, purely out of reverence for Christ’s sacrifice is different than believing that you must ask your husband if you can have a cup of coffee.
Furthermore, there are some husbands that are not worthy of submission. To bow to a man who is having an affair or abusive is certainly not how Jesus treated the women that were around him. He invited Martha to rest and Mary to wholeness. He didn’t subject them to His servitude.
He welcomed them.
In the majority of my counseling experiences within the church, the woman is encouraged to be different, to submit and this will “fix things.” The lie this perpetuates is that she is less, that if she would be more or be better her marriage would be “perfect.” And when I did this I fully expected that Justin would morph into some televangelist with the prophetic abilities of Moses and a voice like Toby Mac.
I believe that God would no sooner transform Justin into a church Deacon speaking in tongues and leading the worship team than He would be making him start wearing a tutu and tiara to plow. There is no formula for God to love Justin more because he meets the standards of the American church. God not only loves Justin, he made Justin. He made him with a command for organization, a phenomenal work ethic and a German stubborn streak that has not been matched. He did this in secret in his mother’s womb. He knows Justin. He loves Justin. He craved Justin unto His death on the cross.
And He knows me.
For years I was enslaved to the belief our lives would not be blessed until Justin was dunked and saved and singing in the church choir. I pictured him praying before meals and never getting out of bed in the morning without reading scripture to start our day… then we would be blessed, then things would be perfect.
Back at the grass hut, there is no Bible for us to read. There is no praise and worship team, or even church. We have heard and believed, but there is no church building to reign as Deacon of. Justin might pray for our family and ask God to provide a deer for dinner, but my best bet is… he will pray in private as this is part of his creation.
Justin is successful and resourceful in the grass hut, just as God designed him.
The lie that I cannot be blessed or that Justin is not cared for unless we both behave according to some mythical machine under the law is the fallacy of an if/then Jesus. If Justin would read scripture to us as a family, then we would get out of debt… Ugh. Why the cross? If any of our good deeds counted us worthy of blessing why would God allow the brutal death of His only son?
And Justin is the head of our household, however, if he were to leave us and move to Vegas with a hooker named Laffy-Taffy, God would care for us and not curse us for Justin’s folly. Furthermore, He would still pursue Justin. Marriages that don’t survive betrayal or end for any other reason leave broken individual sons and daughters of a God of restoration.
He can and will restore, granted perhaps not how we imagine.
As a bonus to the two keys to an epic Christian marriage, I will also point out, ask God to show you your spouse as He sees him. The practice will leave you undone. My sister first told me about this practice, simply asking God to show me Justin as He sees Justin. He sees Justin as his beloved son. Hard working, compassionate, charmingly naïve, and wise. He wired Justin as creative and innovative. He loves him, and He chose me as his helpmate.
Submission, in the sense of choosing Justin daily as my best choice and companion, without comparison with the belief we are wholly together, and wholly separate is the freedom that is an epic marriage, with all the elements of sacred… and all the pookey of sticky.
May your floors be sticky and your calling ordained. Love, Jami