The hubby and I were fortunate enough to go on a marriage retreat this weekend. We were so excited about it. If I can be a little frank, we were beginning to need it. Everyone knows what I am talking about. There are highs and lows when you go through in a marriage, times where you feel SO CONNECTED to that person, and others times you are left wondering “what did we ever have in common?” It is ok, it is part of the process. I am slowly learning that as we approach our 3 anniversary in about 2 and a half weeks.
At this retreat we watched a video study calledSacred Marriage by Gary Thomas. While there were not a lot of “Oh my goodness, I’ve never thought about that before” moments, there were several thoughts that stuck out to me as being unique. One thing he said and the statement the whole study seemed to revolve around was what if God didn’t intend marriage to make you happy, but to make you holy. He was not saying that happiness isn’t important in a marriage and that God doesn’t desire that. He was just stating the fact that happiness may not have been God’s first intent for a married couple, holiness is.
We were asked to think about it as a couple, to look back on all those things that bother us, get under our skin, or just plain make us mad, and instead of seeing them as flaws that we have to live with, seeing them as ways for God to make us holy as He is holy. Perhaps you have needed to learn patience, and God is using your spouse to produce this character quality in you. Perhaps your spouse is needing to learn self control in frustrating matters, and God is using you to produce that in them. We were asked to reexamine these places and see them as ways God is using it to create holiness through our marriage relationship.
Gary also told us to treat each other as children of God which meant that God is would be (and is) our Father-in-law. We should treat them as if our own earthly in-laws are walking around behind us watching how we treat their child! What a concept.
Lastly Gary talked about how it takes work. Studies show that it takes 9-14 years before the two married people begin to think of themselves as a couple and see themselves as a single unit instead of two individuals. 9-14 years!! That is a decade or more!!! He was saying how it is so sad to see some of these marriages that are ending at like 7 years before they really have had a chance. It was encouraging to me because I see my parents (who have a wonderful marriage) and other couples in our church that I look up to and I say to myself “I want to be like them” but yet me and the hubs aren’t there yet. I tell myself we have only been married 3 years, they have been married 25 or more. . . It is definitely a worthy goal to have.
I challenge you (and myself) to look at some of the issues you struggle with in your marriage or with your spouse as chances to become holy rather than to become upset. Perhaps this will help as we strive to love each other as Christ has loved us.