Back to school ads are already running… it’s that time of year again where we plan, anticipate, prepare and think about the upcoming year.
Perhaps in our marriages we need to ‘get back to school’. I want to challenge us to remember that ‘happily ever after’ is in fairy tales. If you’ve ever heard Pastor Curt officiate a marriage, he always exhorts the couple to realize they are entering the “school of _______ “ (put your spouse’s name here). Marriage is a school unlike any other school in which we’ve ever been enrolled. It is an always evolving and changing school because we/our spouses are always changing and evolving as people. Life alone generates change in us. But when you add marriage to life, children, in all their vast ever-changing stages, jobs…. Our marriages are always changing; therefore, we are always changing as individuals and couples. I think there is a huge temptation to look at other couples with a jealous or covetous eye and desire change in our marriage… usually what we really want is change in our spouse so we will have the marriage we desire or think we deserve.
The purpose of school is to learn. As spouses, God gives us unique roles in which to learn and to minister to our spouse’s strengths and weaknesses. To the husband He says to use love, gentleness and understanding and to the wife He says to use submission, honor and respect. Learning our spouse requires a humble heart. It means we have to acknowledge we don’t know everything, we are lacking ourselves. Continued learning requires studying, over and over what our spouses need, like, dislike, desire… We also learn by serving because it causes us to humble ourselves, to consider our spouse’s needs above our own needs. Serving can also move us to overlook those weaknesses because overlooking should remind us that our spouses too are having to overlook our own weaknesses. Learning is fun as we discover those things that bring joy to our spouses and will add oneness to our marriage. Learning is what I do, not what I require of my spouse. Changing me is what I do, not what I require of my spouse. Learning is also praising; praising my spouse for the strengths he/she displays, things he/she does that display commitment to responsibilities, to your marriage and to its oneness... Learning is also looking at each moment of disappointment or hurt as an opportunity to draw near to God and remember that God is our strength, God is our hope, God is our refuge, God is our portion forever.
A grandmother to the first couple we mentored wisely told them, “you’ve chose your love, now love your choice”. Learning our spouse requires strength outside of ourselves. In Ps 73, Asaph contemplated the ease of life of the wicked and found it wearisome—'til he entered the sanctuary of God (not the literal building) but the presence of God, fellowship with God, his relationship with God and he found there in His presence, that when his soul is embittered (because of those he watched—for us it can be because we compare our marriage to others’ or because we are too busy watching and waiting for God to change our spouse); Asaph became brutish and ignorant AND beastly toward God. He also found in God’s presence that God is continually with him, holding his right hand, guiding him with his counsel, one day taking him to glory. That although his heart and his flesh may fail, God is the strength of his heart and portion forever. He said it is good to draw near to the Lord, to make God his refuge.
If you’ve quit attending the school of your spouse, go back to learning your spouse. Go back to serving and ministering to your spouse. Go back to working on you and how you respond, relate and interact with your spouse. In our marriages, we will experience A's, B's, C's, D's and yes sometimes F's. Press on, so that when you graduate (either by death or the rapture) you will hear God say, well done my good and faithful servant.