Consider the following perspective: if the amount you studied spouse before marriage were equal to a high school diploma, then you should continue to learn about your mate until you gain a "college degree," a "master's degreee," and ultimately a "doctorate degree." Think of it as a lifelong journey that draws your heart ever closer to your mate.
When you surrender yourself to Christ, His power can work through you. Even at your very best, you are not able to live up to God's standards. But He "is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us" (Ephesians 3:20). That's how you love your spouse.
Every day you place expectations on your spouse. Sometimes they meet them. Sometimes they don't. But never will they be able to totally satisfy all the demands you ask of them - partly because some of your demands are unreasonable, partly because your mate is human.
"In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace" (Ephesians 1:7). In Him we have the model of what rejected love does. It stays faithful.
Unfortunately your marriage has enemies out there. They come in different forms and use different strategies, but nonetheless they will conspire to destroy your relationship unless you know how to ward them off.
Adam and Eve were supplied with everything they needed in the garden of Eden. They had fellowship with God and intimacy with one another. But after Eve was deceived by the serpent, she saw the forbidden fruit and set her heart on it. Before long, Adam joined in her wishes, and against God's command both of them ate. That's the progression. From eyes to heart to action. And then follows shame and regret.
Forgiveness doesn't absolve anyone of blame. It doesn't clear their record with God. It just clears you of having to worry about how to punish them. When you forgive another person, you're not turning them loose. You're just turning them over to God, who can be counted on to deal with them His way. You're saving yourself the trouble of scripting any more arguments or trying to prevail in this situation. It's not about winning and losing anymore. It's about freedom. It's about letting go....
Next time you're in an argument with your spouse, instead of working up your comebacks, stop and see if there's something worth listening to in what your mate is saying. What might happen in your relationship if instead of passing blame, you first admitted your own wrongs? As the Scripture says, "Rebuke is more effective for a wise man than a hundred blows on a fool" (Proverbs 17:10 NKJV).
Marriage has a way of altering our vision. We go in expecting our mate to fulfill our hopes and to make us happy. But this is an impossible order for our spouse to fill. Divorce is nearly inevitable when people refuse to allow their spouses to be human. So there needs to be a transition in your thinking.
Love doesn't have to be jarred awake by your mate's obvious signs of distress. Before worries and troubles have begun to bury them, love has already gone into action mode. It sees the weight beginning to pile up and it steps in to help. That's because love wants you to be sensitive to your spouse.
Love motivated by mere duty cannot hold out for very long. And love that is only motivated by favorable conditions can never be assured of sufficient oxygen to keep it breathing. Only love that is lifted up as an offering to God - returned to Him in gratitude for all He's done - is able to sustain itself when all other reasons have lost their ability to energize us.
One of the most impressive things about the Bible is the way it is linked together, with consistent themes running throughout, from beginning to end. Thought written over a span of 1600 years and composed by more than forty writers of various backgrounds and skill levels, God sovereignly authored it with one united voice. And He continues to speak through it today without ever going off-message. Unity. Togetherness. Oneness. These are the unshakable hallmarks of our God.
"A man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh." (Genesis 2:24) This verse is God's original blueprint for how marriage is supposed to work. It involves a tearing away and a knitting together. It reconfigures existing relationships while establishing a brand new one.
In Christian marriage, romance is meant to thrive and flourish. After all, it was created by God. It's all part of celebrating what God has given, becoming one with our mate while simultaneously pursuing purity and holiness. He delights in us when this happens.
The meaning of "real life" changes dramatically when we understand that God's Word is the ultimate expression of what real life is. The teachings it contains are not just good guesses at what should matter. They are prinicples that reflect the way things really are, the way God created life to be. His ideals and instructions are the only pathways to real blessings, and when we see people following them in obedience to the Lord, it should cause us to rejoice.
For some people, the Bible seems just too big to understand. But as a Christian, you're not left alone to try grasping the major themes and deep meanings of the Bible. "For the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God" (1 Corinthians 2:10). And because of His internal lamp, the Scriptures are now yours to read, absorb, comprehend, and live by.
The unity that grows between a man and woman who regularly pray together forms an intense and powerful connection. Within the sanctuary of your marriage, praying together can work wonders on every level of your relationship.