On the Facebook page for our podcast, Sex Chat for Christian Wives, we often share Bible verses or quotes that apply to marriage. Consequently, I’ve done a lot of perusing quotes lately, and it struck me today how strong people’s opinions are about the worthwhileness of marriage.
Some believe marriage is terrific, some believe it’s awful. Take a look at these examples:
Marriage is terrific
“There is no more lovely, friendly and charming relationship, communion or company than a good marriage.” – Martin Luther
“A happy marriage is a long conversation which always seems too short.” – Andre Maurois
“Love is not weakness. It is strong. Only the sacrament of marriage can contain it.” – Boris Pasternak
“Marriage is the most natural state of man, and…the state in which you will find solid happiness.” – Benjamin Franklin
Marriage is awful
“Marriage is like putting your hand into a bag of snakes in the hope of pulling out an eel.” – Leonardo da Vinci
“Many a good hanging prevents a bad marriage.” – William Shakespeare
“A marriage is no amusement but a solemn act, and generally a sad one.” – Queen Victoria
“Marriage is a wonderful institution, but who would want to live in an institution?” – H.L. Mencken
So which is it?
When my marriage was in the pit of doom and despair, I would have answered that my marriage was awful. And yet, somehow I believed deeply that it could become terrific. (See When My Marriage Seemed Hopeless, What Made Me Stay?)
It has become a happy marriage, such that I also wrote 6 Things I Love about Being Married. And believe me, that’s not an exhaustive list!
I know some marriages are awful. One or both spouses are buried in a pile of pain so deep they can’t imagine how they can possibly claw their way out — at least not together. Some of you have experienced the lion’s share of hurt on the issue of a sexless marriage, although most failing marriages are dealing with other issues as well.
Perhaps you’re at the point that you feel like one of these people:
“Happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance.” – Charlotte in Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
“Marriage is miserable unless you find the right person that is your soulmate and that takes a lot of looking.” – Marvin Gaye
You think that you were dealt a bad hand or married the wrong person, and you don’t feel like your marriage can ever find health and happiness.
I don’t believe in soul mates. If God created a single person out there intended for you, that strikes me as a cruel shell game to try to find them. Moreover, the Bible shows example of various reasons for getting married, and God’s perspective seems to be that living out the Gospel in your marriage is what brings you holiness and happiness.Living out the Gospel in your marriage is what brings you holiness and happiness. Click To Tweet
Hands-down, that’s what saved my marriage and brought us from awful to terrific. See Miracle or Quick Fix, in which I confess this what I learned during that process:
I had to commit to being the kind of Christ-follower God wanted me to be. Often we know what to do. We simply don’t do it. We find excuses for not being as loving, patient, selfless, and kind as we should. We don’t give the other person the benefit of the doubt. We focus on defending ourselves and thus offending our spouse. If God directly responded to many of our prayers for a better marriage, Jesus might simply pop into our living rooms long enough to say a “Woe unto you” for neglecting His commands.
What makes the difference?
Perhaps the difference between good marriages and bad marriages is our willingness to be humble about our shortcomings, forgiving of one another, and invite God into our relationship day after day after day.
That’s not a magic pill, but a daily regimen.
The good news is that I’ve been around long enough to see not just a few but many marriages go from awful to terrific. Yes, I’ve also seen some go from terrific to awful — and that stings for all involved. But there are a lot of happy marriages out there (see The Good News about Marriage by Shaunti Feldhahn), most of which required intentionality, effort, and grace.There are a lot of happy marriages out there, most of which required intentionality, effort, and grace. Click To Tweet
Maybe your marriage is already there, but maybe it’s awful at the moment — which means it might just be pre-terrific. Don’t give up.