Marriage is messy. There’s no getting around it. When you take two sinners and put them in a lifelong commitment, conflict is going to come up. My wife and I were married on a Friday night and the next morning we hopped in a car for ten hours. I would say around the eighth-hour mark of musical disagreement, bad directions, and road rage, we began bouncing around the idea of an annulment. Literally, our first apocalyptic argument went down less twenty-four hours after we said, “I do”. Thankfully, we both repented of our selfishness and I apologized for spending honeymoon money on theology books and Deadpool comics (which I returned 15 minutes after buying them).
However, the arguments of our honeymoon stage pale in comparison to the verbal brawls we’ve had after four years of sharing finances, closets and the TV remote. I like conflict. I like working things out to an understanding. I like when confrontation brings edification. I understand that sanctification is a process and I want to be the in the thick of it. This is an exhausting personality trait for the people around me to handle, but I won’t stand for dishonesty. I used to tell my wife, if you want to say something, JUST SAY IT! If you feel differently about something than I do, TELL ME! She got the hang of it quickly and I learned that it was okay to cry as grown man.
Before we got married, we had an understanding that it was going to be hard. So, we established three principles that we try to stick to, to make our marriage as biblical and strong as possible. This post is predominantly about those three principles and how hellish they’ve made my life, but how delightful they have made my marriage. Anyone who is married knows that the covenantal union of marriage is one of the most confusing parts of life. One minute you’re intoxicated by the love of your wife, where she has an aura of rainbows and pink flamingos around her, and the next minute you get lost in a daydream about an easier life as a single, homeless vagabond in Hawaii.
I’m not promising that these three simple principles will fix your marriage if it’s broken. (If your marriage is broken, I would highly suggest counseling with someone who doesn’t make as many movie references as I do.) However, I would implore you to put these in practice and see the difference it makes in your marriage.
- BE HONEST
Being honest is probably one of the most obvious things you should practice in your marriage, but it’s also one of the hardest. As sinners against God we’re no stranger to shame, and shame makes us do dumb things. Shame over something we’ve done will give us bad attitudes and irrational ideas. I mean, our parents Adam and Eve felt so much shame after biting the forbidden fruit that they thought they could hide from God (Gen. 3). That being said, we should always confess and be upfront about our sin with our God, and also our wives. So, if you do something stupid, tell her. If you break the budget at the bookstore, tell her. If you lie about doing chores or running the errands she asked you to do, tell her. If you masturbate to porn when she’s not home, tell her. It’s not fun, and it’s not easy. Usually, this will result in a pretty heated argument and tears. But, confession to sin is just a part of the Christian life, so make it a part of your marriage.
- BE TRANSPARENT
This principle goes along with being honest, but takes it a step further. Being transparent means being open about all things. If you have a problem, you should talk about it as soon as it’s appropriate. The fact is, you’re not going to agree on everything. You’re not going to have the same methods. When we first got married, Sarah noticed that as I used dishes while cooking, I like to clean them as go. I noticed that she wanted to leave them out long enough to grow lab experiments. So, before a face hugger sprung out of the sink, we needed to discuss this.
I will lazily leave underwear by the hamper. Sarah drops earrings on the ground like Kevin McCallister thwarting the Wet Bandits. We needed to discuss this. Sarah comes from a Charismatic background where the church believed you need to speak in tongues as proof of the Holy Spirit. I come from a Southern Baptist background. You get the point.
Talk about your differences. Be open about your preferences and be willing to adapt for your bride. I give my wife a hard time, but I’m an awful roommate. I don’t like sweeping and mopping. I don’t like cleaning showers and toilets. But you guessed it, she had many transparent conversations with me, and now I help sometimes! My point is, don’t bottle things up. Neither one of you can read minds. So please, save your marriage and talk about it.
- BE PROTECTIVE
One thing that gave me and wife a stronger bond than the Na’vi in Avatar is me being completely protective of her heart. I am constantly on the defense for my wife’s heart from the world. In the year 2017, photoshopped women on the cover of magazines not only distort men’s view of women, but also a woman’s view of herself. I’m never too tired to remind my wife how much I love everything about her.
In the age of millennial unrest, an identity is found largely in not only how we look but also what we do. There’s always something better. You should always be looking for your next opportunity. And if you’re not good enough for that open door, read leadership books A, B, and C by three teenagers who are making $70,000 a month tweeting for companies. Amid this, I always tell my wife that I’m proud of her and she can do whatever she wants when the Lord allows her. I’m preaching contentment in what the Lord has planned and confirming her identity as a child of God.
As your wife’s man, you need to act like it. You need to be protecting her mind from negative thoughts. You need to defend her heart from Satan’s temptations. On your wedding day, you became a part of a lifelong covenant with God, promising to care for his daughter to the best of your abilities while on this earth.
Ultimately, I’m a hypocrite because I fail at these principles, and you will too. As I said before, marriage is messy and life is hard. You won’t always react to confrontation in a godly manner. You won’t always give the best, biblical answer when she asks you for help with something she’s struggling with. But fortunately, you don’t have to be perfect, not only because you can’t be, but because Jesus was perfect for you.
Jesus Christ, the second member of the Trinity, became the God-Man. He lived a perfect sinless life for 33 years and died in our place. He bore our sins. He took on our failures so we could live freely under his righteousness. Being conformed into the image of Christ can hurt deeply because it often means our pride is being broken, and our souls feels like they’re shattered glass when we fail Him and our wives. Thankfully, because of His sacrifice, every morning we wake up to new mercies. Another day to be more like him and to lead our wives faithfully.
Often, I must dwell on the sacrifice of Christ and the doctrine of future grace. I must think deeply about the power of His atonement. His death was so strong that it paid for our past, present and future sins. I must remember that yesterday, today and tomorrow’s sin is covered by His blood. That though I fail, God sees Jesus when He looks at me (2 Cor. 5:21).
Lastly, I would like to offer one final piece of advice and that is this; just shut your mouth. Listening deeply to your wife speaking seems to be a lost art form overshadowed by clueless sitcom husbands that only think about sports and dinner. Don’t just wait for your turn to speak, but rather meaningfully and patiently listen. I pray that if anything, this blog post would spark conversations between you and your wife