It was a quick courtship, as we got engaged on July 18, and then we were married on December 11. We definitely have learned a lot about each other and ourselves in the past 15 years, and I'm blessed to have a wonderful wife.
Not About Me?One weekday morning years ago, I read a certain chapter in What Did You Expect?? (Paul Tripp), the best marriage book I've ever been through. In that particular passage, Tripp helped me see the truth that I entered into marriage with selfish motives.
I pursued Joanna, and was thrilled to marry her. But if I'm honest, I was thrilled to marry her because of how she made me feel. She made me feel great about myself, and our relationship, courtship, and marriage only solidified my selfish wants.
Of course, I would tell others that it wasn't about me, and that I was called to pursue, provide, and protect. But down in my heart, I went into marriage mostly for self-focused reasons.
Marriage Is About OthersSeth Adam Smith shares advice he received from his dad, in Marriage Isn't For You:
"I’m going to make this really simple: marriage isn’t for you. You don’t marry to make yourself happy, you marry to make someone else happy. More than that, your marriage isn’t for yourself, you’re marrying for a family. Not just for the in-laws and all of that nonsense, but for your future children. Who do you want to help you raise them? Who do you want to influence them? Marriage isn’t for you. It’s not about you. Marriage is about the person you married."
He is correct, and I needed these truths 15 (or more!) years ago. Believing that marriage is about oneself leads to lack of full commitment, because when that person doesn't feel like it's fulfilling his or her needs, that is reason to look elsewhere for companionship.
But I think Seth is missing something. Sure marriage isn't about me, but it's not really about others either. Marriage is about God.
Marriage Is About JesusLet me restate: our marriage isn't for me or for my wife. It's actually about Jesus. I ought not to go through my marriage with the aim of pleasing myself, and I shouldn't even aim to please Joanna. My aim should always be to please the One who made me and died for me.
(Of course, not everyone (particularly, those who don't follow Christ) will believe that their marriage is about God. For them, I would at least encourage them to make their marriages more about their spouse then themselves. It is better than a self-focus, though that bond will usually be frail.)
You see, when I spoke my vows to Joanna, I didn't just commit to her. I committed myself to Jesus. I committed to my wife in the grace and power of the Lord. My promise to Joanna is rooted in my faith in God. Therefore, to break my vows to love Joanna would be equal to breaking my vows to God.
Husbands and wives -- don't make your own desires the focus of your marriage. At a bare minimum, focus on loving and serving your spouse. But if you want a full satisfaction in your marriage, pursue Jesus and make your marriage about Him.
Dustin Crowe agrees:
"We cannot love children or spouses well unless the perfect love of the Father is a first-hand experience."