What would you say is the goal of marriage? A quick examination of marriages today would reveal that many think the goal is to bring happiness, fulfillment of desires, or personal completion. However, given that marriage is made up of two flawed people, those goals are impossible to meet—and, in fact, not God’s goal for marriage at all.
The Goal of Marriage
The goal of marriage, as with everything in life, is to glorify God (1 Cor. 10:31). If my goal in life is to glorify God—to give him the honor he deserves—then that means I need to love and treat my spouse in a way that is honoring to the Lord. Marriage is a picture of how Jesus loves his Church (Eph. 5:25). By serving my spouse, I am modeling the love of Christ which in turn brings God glory.
When I Wasn’t Serving My Spouse
This truth finally landed on my heart after three years of marriage and six months of marriage counseling during a time when I found myself married to an alcoholic and desperately wanting things to change.
You see, we were very selfish as newlyweds and were always looking for ways to serve ourselves instead of each other. While other couples were still riding the honeymoon high, shouting matches were a nightly ritual in our home. We had spiraled so far into self-pity and loathing that by the end of year three, we were living as roommates instead of soulmates.
By God’s grace, the shift in my marriage happened when I realized the goal of marriage is not to serve myself; it is to glorify God through how I treat my spouse. Through this time, I learned three ways to serve my spouse better, even when it’s hard. My hope is that these ideas will help you choose to serve your spouse to the glory of God.
1. Love Your Spouse Where They Are At
At the start of year four in my marriage, my husband was suffering from the consequences of alcohol abuse. It was hard to witness the devastating toll it took on his body. In a matter of a few short weeks, he became physically, financially, and emotionally dependent on me for everything. Instead of holding bitterness towards him for putting us in a stressful situation, I decided to love him despite his poor choices. This was hard at first, but I was helped by remembering that this is what Jesus did for us (Matt. 20:28; Rom. 5:8). I encourage you to meditate on these passages and make a choice. Choose to view your spouse through the lens of Christ and love them regardless of where they are in their journey of sanctification.
2. Forgive & Ask for Forgiveness Quickly
Both you and your spouse will make mistakes—it’s in our nature. So, be in the practice of asking for forgiveness on a regular basis. Be the first to ask for forgiveness when you wrong your spouse and be quick to forgive when they fail. Remember what Jesus said about forgiveness—if you forgive others, so will he forgive you (Matt. 6:14-15). Model Christ by humbling yourself and both forgiving and asking for forgiveness quickly and often.
3. Pray for Your Spouse Often
During seasons of suffering, I have always committed to praying for my husband no matter my thoughts towards him at the time. This has not been easy to do in my own strength. So, I would pray for God to do what only he can do—change hearts. A frequent prayer of mine would be “Help my husband learn the lesson you are teaching him in this difficult time. Don’t let him waste this trial.” Pray hard for your spouse’s soul. Pray often that God’s purposes would be made known in your spouse’s life.
Living Out the Goal of Marriage
Glorifying God in your marriage is possible when you take the posture of Christ and humble yourself. Viewing marriage through the lens of glorifying God will allow you to tangibly model the love of Christ to your spouse.
By the grace of God, my husband and I will celebrate nine years of marriage this month. Just like the season of suffering in my marriage, God may be using a difficult season in your marriage as an opportunity to bring him glory. Pray that you would want the glory of God more than you want an easy marriage. Then, begin to serve your spouse in all things to the glory of God.