By Rob Furlong
God can make a difference in your marriage.
I know this from firsthand experience.
Karen and I both come from dysfunctional family backgrounds, so even before we were married we made a commitment to God and each other that we would work hard to not repeat the mistakes of previous generations of our families.
What difference has God made for me personally in my marriage?
I have discovered the joy of loving my wife sacrificially.
Husbands are instructed to "love their wives" and it is the kind of love that is willing to put the other person's needs ahead of your own, to be willing to serve that person and to consider their interests before your own.
This kind of love does not come easily, especially when you are in the heat of an argument and your wife (you believe) is being unreasonable!
So, the only way I can possibly love like this is to ask God to help me. The perfect example of sacrificial love is seen in His Son Jesus who gave up His own life for us when we did not deserve it.
My default button drifts toward selfishness when I am under pressure, so I need the occasional reminder that I, also, am not perfect but God still loves me anyway!
I have learned that honesty is liberating in marriage.
I am talking here about honesty with your wife about where you are "at". There have been times in my marriage where I have thought it best to not share with Karen what I might be struggling with at any given moment. It's not that I have sought to be deceptive or tried to hide things from her – I just did not want to cause her unnecessary worry or concern.
This is not a good policy!
Firstly, if I do not share with her then I miss out on one of the greatest privileges of marriage. That of being supported, cared and prayed for by my best friend. As Solomon wisely said, "two are better than one" because they can lean on each other in the storms of life.
Secondly, Karen can read me like a book, so there is no point in me trying to simply soldier on!
I have found that good communication develops greater intimacy between us.
One of the great descriptions of marriage is the Biblical statement that a husband "knew" his wife. When we read this, we immediately think of the sexual relationship yet there is so much more to this word than simply sex.
To "know" carries with it the ideas of knowing the other person emotionally, spiritually and intellectually.
The word underlines the very essence of what a relationship is all about – to see my wife for the person she truly is, to see her more deeply than others see her and to see what no one else sees: the beautiful person God created her to be.
Which is the way God sees me; the person I really am. So, what I learn through my relationship with God changes the way I relate to my wife.
And the only way that I can truly know Karen well is to talk with her, listen to her, share with her, dream with her, cry with her and laugh with her.
I experience what God described as "oneness" in marriage.
This oneness does not happen overnight. When a couple is married they begin a lifelong journey toward oneness and there will be the inevitable ups and downs along that journey.
But they do not travel that road alone. If they are both committed to God, He goes before them, encouraging, nurturing and shaping them into the people He wants them to be.
And the result is oneness – a true unity of body, mind, heart and soul.
God can make a difference in your marriage – why not let Him start today?•