There are far too many Christian marriages that are not real. What I mean by that is that they are not authentic or genuine and would never stand up to a closer examination of what happens behind closed doors. Too often couples pretend to be happy and in love in public, but in private the marriage is lonely, empty and hopeless.
Believe me, I know what I am talking about!
My husband and I could have received Oscar awards for our acting abilities during the first years of our marriage. We would drive to church on a Sunday fighting and screaming, or else sitting in frozen silence, and yet, as soon as we climbed out of the car in the church parking lot we pretended to be in love in order that no-one would know just how unhappy our marriage was and how close we were to get a divorce.
We wasted years pretending. Years full of hurt and loneliness. So many years of unhappiness before we finally sought help. How farcical is that? The church is the one place where we should have the freedom to be genuine, to show that we are hurting, and to ask for help—a place of safety for our emotions and relationships. And yet, it is often the one place where we are the most false. Where we feel the most judged.
There is no shame in admitting to someone in ministry or a professional or someone you trust that you are having difficulties in your marriage and need help.
Recently a friend and I were talking and she revealed to me, in confidence, some issues that she and her husband were struggling with. I responded that in the first few years of our marriage my husband and I had similar issues.
She looked at me in total astonishment and said, “But you and Steve have such a perfect marriage.” I assured her that it had taken a lot of hard work, forgiveness, letting go of resentments, compromise, and counseling and many, many hours of prayer to achieve what we have now.
We have a happy marriage, we love each other completely but there are still misunderstandings, fights, and squabbles but the difference is we are committed to God and to each other to make our marriage work. We have been married for twenty-seven years and there is no way we are going to ‘throw’ those years away now.
It reminded me of an incident that occurred a few years prior. My husband and I were attending his niece’s wedding in England (we live in South Africa) and a few months earlier his sister had sent me a dress which I had packed to take with me to England. Whilst we were over there she phoned me at our hotel one morning to discuss what we were going to do that day and I mentioned that I was wearing the dress she had sent me. She said she couldn’t remember ever sending me a dress!
A little while later we met up and she took one look at me and started to laugh. It was a good few minutes before she managed, in between laughing, to tell me that what I was wearing was actually a nightdress. I told her that I had worn it out in public in South Africa and friends had complimented me on the lovely dress that I was wearing. This just set her off again! The outcome was that I had to change my clothes and off we went to Marks and Spencers. She took me past the pajama department and there, indeed, was my dress hanging up in the nighty section!
That incident has always reminded me of marriages that ‘aren’t’. They aren’t real. They aren’t honest. And just as my ‘dress’ was actually a nighty, believers often pretend that their marriages are perfect.
“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” —Ephesians 4:2-5
We need to start practicing these words, firstly in our marriages and secondly in the church.
There needs to be unity and peace and hope in our marriages and that needs to follow through into our church community.
The only way you will have a happy, fulfilled marriage is when you BOTH commit your marriage to God, seek counselling, go on marriage enrichment courses, READ THE BIBLE TOGETHER and PRAY TOGETHER on a daily basis.
Originally written for and published on Start Marriage Right https://www.startmarriageright.com/2020/03/how-real-is-your-marriage/