Twelve years ago a beautiful woman dressed in white walked down the aisle in my direction. She was amazing and all I could think about was the life ahead of us: enjoying our youth, building a family and growing old together. April 18, 2003 was the day I died. Well, sort of; that was the day I was supposed to die.
You see, I didn’t know much about marriage. In fact, I didn’t know much about life. But as a recent Christ follower I knew Jesus’ biblical teachings instructed me to care, protect and provide for my wife. It seemed simple. After all, I was a kid in love – an expression so often (mis)used as an unbreakable feeling. Perpetual. Dying in this context was in my mind a noble image of me taking a bullet for her; getting in front of a car for her; doing anything just to keep her alive. To me that was the essence of a God-inspired marriage as shown in Ephesians 5:25.
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”
But, by the second week of our marriage (yes, it didn’t take long) I was faced with my biggest weakness: selfishness.
I remember it like it was yesterday. We returned from our honeymoon and I was invited to go out with the guys. I promptly accepted and my bride stayed home. What seemed like a small incident quickly became a larger pattern of my self-centeredness. I was choosing me instead of my wife. I was slow to recognize it or understand it. I thought I had good intentions to back me up but my actions proved me wrong. Miscommunications quickly became frustrations, which slowly led to complete disconnections. Over the first few years of our marriage the joke that “marriage can kill you” wasn’t so funny at all.
That was until mercy and grace spoke to me.
As I’ve sought God through the years, He’s provided me with older and more mature men to give me perspective. These relationships have shown me that selfishness has haunted men since the fall in the Garden of Eden. I was not the only one going through this. This wisdom woke me up to the fact that my marriage is in a constant battle for attention. And I will only be able to overcome it if I’m to recognize the full dimension of my role as a husband through the eyes of Christ.
I think this is why the apostle Paul spent so much time addressing men in his letter to the church in Ephesus. The onus is on the husband to love like Christ so to make our wives holy, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish (Ephesians 5:27). I finally realized that to love my wife like Christ is to die die to myself and my desires in order to create an environment where she is recognized and treated for the jewel that she is. And the beautiful thing is that this commitment is mutual (Ephesians 5:24). This attitude has been a blessing in my marriage because not only have I died to put my focus on my spouse, she too has died and her interest is on me.
So marriage is supposed to kill you. It’s not easy. It requires intentionality. And I often fail at it. Putting work first, rating the interest of other family members higher, making the satisfaction of my needs a priority. There are so many other things trying to kill me. I simply choose to die for something better: my marriage.
I still have much to learn but recognizing it allows me to be the husband that Christ prepared for me to be. One that reflects the sacrifice of Christ. That is the true essence of a God-inspired marriage.
Has your marriage killed you yet?