Lest I be accused of being impractical with my theology (*shudder* may it never be), I wanted to take today and tomorrow’s post and give some practical insight into what “being holy more than happy” might look like in your marriage.
So, when thinking of ways to “be holy in love” do your plans end up with loose ends, failed attempts, and maybe a little moping about all the sacrifice required of you? Holiness in marriage might begin to seem like the unattainable goal—the Holy Grail of relationships—and you’re Indian Jones stumbling through one mishap after the other.
It doesn’t have to be like that. In fact, after meeting a married couple who are committed to holiness in marriage (by loving each other, respecting each other, and serving each other) you might think them to be one of the most settled, joyful, and confident couples you’ve ever met (which means that Liz and I haven’t arrived…but we’re on the road!). They might not even catch your attention if it weren’t for the undercurrent of love, servanthood and honor that flows through their day-to-day interactions. Many times we notice only because their love ends up overflowing into our own lives.
But how do we get from where we are now to that point? How can we make holiness in marriage possible and habitual?
To begin I want to ask what were you thinking on that fateful day when you tied the Gordian knot (they make it sounds like marriage is a simple knot, but really it like the craziest, most complicated knot in the book!). More precisely, with whom were you promising to tangle up the rest of your life? When I married Liz, I married a short little blonde with sparkling blue eyes and a ridiculously optimistic spirit (see this post). I’d studied her and learned her preferences. I w0oed her with poetry, books, flowers and many carefully arranged dates. I proposed in the most unique way that I could, finding a setting that she would love. After all this, wouldn’t it be bizarre if I couldn’t tell you some simple facts about Liz? Like, what food she likes or where she grew up, or what types of things frighten her. So, what am I getting at here? Just this, when you married your spouse, you were promising to love a unique person (even peculiar perhaps:-). Chances are you chose to make these kinds of promises when you were married:
“I, (name), take you (name), to be my lawfully wedded (wife/husband), to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part.”
The second “name” is your spouse. When I got married I promised to love and cherish Liz, the individual. Your spouse is not a generic person or gender, and loving them will not be the same as loving just any woman/man. Here is where most marriage books fail to help. They are good for general principles but you, and only you, can write the book on how to truly love your spouse.
You are the only one who can write a book about how to love your spouse.
What’s more, on that fateful wedding day, you promised to be knowledgeable enough to write a book on loving your spouse in every situation (e.g. chapter 1: loving while richer, chapter 2: loving while poorer, chapter 3: loving in sickness, in health, etc.). You promised to love YOUR UNIQUE SPOUSE!
A daunting task, but one that God fully expects us to take seriously. I just want to give you some ideas for tackling such an (often overwhelming) undertaking.
So tomorrow I will tell you one way to make sure you are loving your unique spouse: The Love Map! (Which I’d already named before I decided to use the Indian Jones reference :-).