When I got married, I adored my husband. I was sure he was the right man for me. He was my best friend. He was funny. He loved and protected me.
But marriage didn’t end up being what I was anticipating. I wanted my husband to love me for me, and it seemed that when we didn’t make love he got ticked off. And so I started challenging all my assumptions. I figured that Keith really didn’t love me–or at least he didn’t love me enough. And I thought that God was supremely unfair, because he made sex to be so fun for guys, but not for women. And then He made men want it all the time! Not just that, but He said that it was our responsibility to actually meet our husband’s needs. I figured people had been lying to me my whole life.
I was in that funk, off and on, for about three or four years. And then, gradually, the funk faded. It wasn’t just because sex got better. It wasn’t just because we got better at working out our problems. It was because I decided that I didn’t want to be miserable in my marriage. And it seemed to me that the only way to be happy was to start believing that the good things that I had heard about marriage and sex were true. Instead of questioning God, I turned the tables and started questioning my own experience.
This is true in many areas of marriage, not just sex. Ultimately, we need to believe that marriage is for our good, that God blesses marriage, that we can be happy, that following God’s precepts does make one more peaceful. But these are matters of belief–of faith.
If you feel that your husband doesn’t love you or talk to you enough, for instance, you can focus on that and become depressed and resentful. Or you can focus on God’s command to love and respect your husband, and to find your peace in God. And when we start to do that, often our marriage changes. When you start to act out love, the feelings often return.
The turning point in many marriages comes when a person decides to listen to God and believe. In other words, and this is so important:
The success of your marriage depends far more on what you believe about God than on how you feel about each other.
When you believe that God wants the best for you; when you believe that God created sex to be physically wonderful and spiritually intimate; when you believe that God will always be enough for you, even if you feel lonely in your marriage, then things get better.
The converse is also true:
Often the reason that we struggle in marriage is not because there is something wrong with our spouse, but because we don’t actually believe God’s promises.
Now obviously there are exceptions to this. If your spouse is abusive, or is having an affair, or is addicted to pornography, simply believing “God loves marriage, and if I cling to that these problems will disappear” is not going to help–although believing that God can give you strength and can be the source of your ultimate peace can help you take the right steps and seek the right counsel on what you should do.
But with many marriage problems, the issue is one of attitude far more than it is anything else. You’re believing things about your spouse, about sex, about marriage that aren’t true. When you can get your attitude in check, often the marriage starts to improve.
Recently, in church, our pastor was talking about The Battlefield of the Mind, and reminding us of 2 Corinthians 10:5, which says:
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
When it comes to marriage, your ultimate guide shouldn’t be your experience. It should be what God says.
I’m not saying that your husband is perfect. No one is. The question is, do you want to focus on the negative, or do you want to focus on the positive?
When you start despairing about your marriage, can you take that thought, hold it up to God, and ask, “what’s your perspective here? What are the promises you have given me?” When you start having really ugly thoughts about sex, can you take those, and hold them up to God, and say, “what do you say about sex? What do you say about whether it’s good or not?”
Sometimes God’s promises don’t seem real because we haven’t experienced them. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t real. It just means that often we CAN’T experience them until we first BELIEVE them. Marriage success is a matter of faith.
When I started saying, “Okay, the Bible says sex is great, God made it to be good for women, too, so obviously I must be missing something,” then our sex life improved dramatically. I became optimistic that it could get better, because I believed God. And that was the huge turning point for us.
This week, when you start to feel down, or resentful, or bitter, take those thoughts captive. Look at them, and ask, “what is God’s truth here?” Then act on His truth, not on your feelings. I truly believe that that is the key to marriages turning around.