By Holly Moran
I’m not going to sit here, type an awe-inspiring blog, and act like I am some expert on marriage. I’m just not. My husband Scott and I have been married for just over 2 and a half years. I feel like I’ve learned some good stuff, but really the foundation of what I know about marriage comes from the Bible.
When I was a little girl, I always knew (or at least I thought I knew) that I would get married someday. My best friend and I did the whole pretend-wedding thing where we put on our mothers’ wedding dresses and smooched stuffed animals who were supposed to be the most amazing husbands ever. I guess you could say we had unrealistic expectations about what marriage would look like. But we were just kids, right? Personally, I think most of us have pretty unrealistic expectations of marriage up until the day we say “I do.” How could we not? We watch all these romantic movies and read romantic novels that fill our brains with fluff.
Even in Christian culture, this can happen. You may be familiar with the classic wedding verse 1 Corinthians 13:1-3. It goes like this (cue a harp playing in the background), “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” Beautiful. Isn’t it? But let’s just zoom out here for a second and look at the context of this passage. The apostle Paul is writing a letter to a church in Corinth, a Roman Colony, around 50 years after Jesus’ death and resurrection. These people were struggling with things like selfishness, sexual immorality, idolatry…you know, the little stuff. Let’s just say they weren’t getting it, so Paul sent this letter with the intent of calling out their sin and pointing them back toward Christ.
I’m not saying this passage can’t be applied to marriage. It most certainly can. But we need to look at it in the right context. Paul is not describing love as an ooey-gooey feeling that we have toward someone we are attracted to. He is talking about the action we should take toward others. So if we pull this back to marriage that would mean being patient with our spouse. Being kind to our spouse. Not envying what our spouse has. Not being rude to our spouse. Because if we think about it, this is how God treats us. He is patient with us. He is kind to us. He IS love. God endures all things. God never ends.
You can’t expect your spouse to always love like Paul tells the Corinthians to love in his letter. You know why? Because humans aren’t perfect. You are not perfect, so how can you expect your spouse to be? There is not a single human being on this earth who can love in the perfect way that God can. Now I’m not saying that you and your spouse shouldn’t try to love each other like this. It just seems that as humans, our tendency is to try and fix the other person. Just the other day, I couldn’t find my headphones. I automatically assumed that Scott borrowed and lost them. I assumed this because he did this in the past with a pair of my scissors and maybe a few other things. In that moment of judgment, I wanted to fix him and make him more responsible…make him a better spouse. I wasn’t examining myself. I should have asked myself, “How can I love Scott in this situation? How can I work on not being resentful?” It turns out, I was the one who misplaced the headphones.
So ask yourself: are you trying to be the kind of lover God calls you to be? The one who practices patience and kindness and puts others’ needs before his or her own. Try focusing on your qualities rather than on your spouse’s. And remember: we cannot love our spouse or others without God’s love. 1 John 4:19 says, “We love because He first loved us.” Dwell in God’s love. Try to understand it. Pray that you can love like God did when He sent His son Jesus to die for us. Then hopefully, your marriage will begin to look more like you had always expected it would.