My husband and I have begun a study series on Mark Driscoll’s book Real Marriage. I thought it would be interesting to blog through the study about what we’re learning and what is being taught as it pertains to marriage in general.
This first week, chapter one of Real Marriage, was about the expectations and assumptions that we bring into marriage. What happens in our past and how marriage is modeled for us effects what kind of expectations we have. For instance, I grew up in a home where my dad worked and my mom stayed home with the kids. So I went into my marriage with the expectation that my husband would work and I would stay home with the kids. I also expected to spend a lot of time with my husband. In fact, I think that was one of my biggest assumptions/expectations about marriage; that our focus would be on spending as much quality time together as possible. I guess when I pictured being married I pictured all the fun stuff and not so much of the hard stuff. Or even the life stuff.
Thinking back it’s actually pretty funny. No one goes running through a field of flowers, holding hands, and laughing unless it’s in a movie. Not that I wanted to go running through flowers with my husband (that’s just not something we would do) but it was about what that scene portrayed; happiness, freedom, contentment. But the reality of life and marriage isn’t always happiness, freedom, or contentment. There are times of unhappiness, times of feeling trapped, and times of being discontent. Our spouses are not our God. Marriage is not our savior. But I think, whether we realize it or not, we tend to go into marriage with that mindset. “If I were married then I would be happy.” “If I just had someone who loved me then I would be content.” That’s a problem because we are conditioning our happiness on marriage and our contentment on love and not on Christ. And then we bring that mindset into marriage. “If my husband would just clean up after himself then I would be happy!” “If my wife would have sex with me every night then I would be happy!” Not only are we not finding our identity in Christ but we are being self-focused. How can we wives respect our husbands when we’re focused on our wants and needs? And how can husbands love their wives like Christ loves the church when they’re focused on their own wants and needs? The key here is being selfless. And the key to being selfless is to find our identity, our happiness, our freedom, our contentment, and true love in Jesus Christ. When our life is so wrapped up in Jesus then our life only matters as far as Jesus is concerned. It’s not about us. It’s not about what makes us happy. It’s about Jesus’s will and purpose for us. It’s about living a biblical life that glorifies God and that includes our marriages.
After thinking through our expectations, my husband and I both realized that we had more expectations of the other than we did of ourselves. This revealed a selfishness on both our parts. It’s easy to look at our spouse and be discontent. But it’s hard to look at ourselves and evaluate where we are wrong. But I believe that being selfless in marriage (in anything really) is huge and so key to a strong and healthy marriage. Instead of focusing on the shortcomings of our spouse and how they could make our life better we need to be focusing on how we can make our spouse’s life better. How can we love our spouse better? How can we serve them? How have we hurt them and do we need to apologize? The only person we can really work on and change is ourselves. We need to focus on making ourselves the spouse our husband/wife needs, on loving our spouse, and on doing it all out of a heart that loves and serves the Lord.