The Road to a Healthy Marriage
by John Henderson
Marriage is a serious thing. The reason God created it and the purpose for which He designed it should not be taken lightly. The stakes are high. Like all gifts of God, marriage is good and beautiful. Preparing for marriage well helps us to take the gift seriously and enjoy it fully. It does this by:
- Moving from man-centeredness to God-centeredness (Gen. 1:26-27; 2:18). Few men and women live out marriage with God in the middle. Moving from a me-centered, need-driven understanding to a Christ-centered one is the only road to abiding joy in marriage.
- Laying groundwork for Christ-exaltation instead of marriage-exaltation (Eph. 5:25-32). Too high an estimation of marriage frustrates and disappoints. We need to appreciate marriage without putting our hope in it, exalting Christ rather than marriage itself.
- Cultivating Spirit-dependence rather than self-dependence (Eph. 5:18-21). When faced with difficult tasks, most of us tend to either run away or charge ahead. Neither response is a wise approach to marriage. We need God far more than we realize.
- Encouraging humble reverence for God’s gift without instilling paralyzing fears (Matt. 19:1-10). While it’s possible to have too high a regard for marriage, we can also have too low a view. Scripture speaks of marriage as a union forged by God Himself, not a social structure to use and discard as we please.
- Fostering healthy self-awareness rather than blind ignorance (Prov. 12:15; 14:12; 21:2; Mark 10:17-22). Sin blinds us to the reality of who we are and what we do. In the providence of God, marriage can help us to see God, ourselves and others more truthfully through the Word of God.
- Exhorting an atmosphere of grace over an atmosphere of law (Matt. 9:10-13). Few dangers pose a greater threat to the health of a marriage than self-righteousness and legalism. Preparations for marriage help couples to learn to walk more carefully in the grace of Jesus Christ.
- Committing to a lifestyle of reconciliation rather than a fix-it mentality (2 Cor. 5:14-21). The union of two sinful people is a massive catastrophe. Reconciliation must be a way of life, not an occasional problem-resolution technique.
- Cultivating a dedication to longsuffering rather than a quest for nirvana (1 Peter 1:3-9). Marriage can and should be full of joy and wonder. We do not arrive in such a place overnight, however, so we must commit to the process of growing over the long haul.
- Emphasizing trajectory rather than arrival (Phil. 1:6). No process of marriage preparation can bring people to a place of perfect readiness before they enter marriage. We should help them down the best road rather than get them to a particular destination.
I think marriage can and should be full of joyfulness, gladness and wonder. Devotion to God and spouse should fuel our duty. Heart affection should compel outward action, and our souls should find deep fulfillment in loving others the way Jesus Christ loves us. God wants us to be deeply happy in Him and amazed by His generous gifts, including marriage.
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