“It has been since February 26th since I last posted on this excellent book by Gary Thomas. As a reminder, Thomas writes this book to pose and answer the question “What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?”
He opens chapter 6 with these excellent quotes:
Marriage is the operation by which a woman’s vanity and a man’s egotism aer extracted without anesthetic.” – Helen Rowland
One of the best wedding gifts God gave you was a full-length mirror called your spouse. Had there been a card attached, it would have said, “Here’s to helping you discover what you’re really like!” – Gary and Betsy Ricucci
The chapter’s focus is to teach us about how marriage is designed to cleanse us by revealing who we really are through the mirror that is our spouse. I know I have often described my wife, Tara, as a holding up a mirror to me to help me see how I appear to others. Sometimes she simply has to say “Let’s listen” when I start to fill up a conversation with what I know rather than listening to learn what someone else knows. That small comment, unnoticed by others, helps me see that I am taking on the role of know-it-all and teacher in times when I should be a listener and learner.
Thomas notes that we universally approach marriage as an opportunity to change our spouses – because they aren’t perfect. The problem is, he notes, is that we can’t change another. No, God didn’t give us that ability, but He did give us the ability to change ourselves. And, since we aren’t perfect either, our focus must be to deal with the imperfections we can do something about: our own. He relates that when “marital dissatisfaction rears its head in my marriage . . . I simply check my focus. The times when I am . . . most fulfilled in my marriage are the times when I am intent on drawing meaning and fulfillment from becoming a better husband rather than from demanding a ‘better’ wife.”
Ponder this statement a while: “Couples don’t fall out of love so much as they fall out of repentance.”
You see, when we were dating we all often bent over backwards to resolve conflict and honor our boy- or girlfriend. But, after marriage, we begin to focus more on our own needs rather than our spouse’s needs. As that focus changes, we become unloving and unkind. We walk in those sins rather than repenting of them and turning back to a focus on loving God and our spouse. We begin to point at the other’s sins with sarcasm and to make excuses for our own … “Yeh, I guess I wasn’t exactly nice just then, but at least I don’t surf the net for porn!”
God puts us in a place of intimacy with another imperfect human to help both of us begin to grow in grace and truth. The spotlight that is placed on who we are by our spouse is God’s design, when it is used lovingly and graciously. We must not resent one another for our weaknesses or for having our weaknesses brought to light; instead, we should praise God for giving us someone who can expose darkness in our lives to lead us to repentance and a closer walk with Him.