(Ephesians 5:33 – ESV)
When counseling engaged couples, some are starting out strong and have the capacity and potential to have a powerhouse marriage, and others need a lot of work, but the truth is any and every marriage needs a lot of work. It isn’t some start at the top experience; it is a long climb up, together. Some couples have the look of a team that will be a real winner, but I always tell them all, you cannot bank on potential, you must try and fill the capacity. You must be more than willing you must be intentional. It is not about “doing stuff” or going somewhere but being willing to learn together and trusting each other. That is a building process.
A good marriage is a building process, not a finished product. That is the main problem, obstacle, and failure I see within marriages of all sorts; they thought they would get by on love alone, but they didn’t understand what married love is. Married love must grow, from a “we are so in love with each other, we will always work together, and we never fight, so it will always be this way”, to a more mature, growing in grace with God union that sails through the incidental and inevitable rough seas of married life.
God allows couples to go through trials to show them, if they are willing and intentional, how strong the marriage bond can be. Steady in the midst of the storm, just like He does with all Christians as individuals in their relationship with Him (Matthew 7:24-27). This is the way of God, to show you He is there with you even when it seems like you are surrounded by opposing forces, and even death, and indeed you are. The truth is that you will be experiencing things that are unexpected because they will be unique to you as a couple, and we cannot give you a cookie cutter answer considering the dynamic, etc. However, we can teach you with the Word of God.
The devil is so into destroying marriage relationships because the marriage union is a picture of the love that God has in Himself, between the persons of the Trinity. And so when you enter a marriage covenant, you are entering into a spiritual war zone, and if you do not intend to grow spiritually, you will suffer massive loss, and perhaps even a marriage casualty. True godliness is the key to a lasting, wholesome, growing, successful, spiritual, happy marriage. One that not only lasts but also becomes more and more lovely as the years go by.
A good marriage is not one without struggles; God’s plan is for there to be struggles. God wants you to struggle, because He wants you to grow, and that takes growing pains. You can’t be knit together without having to be twisted and turned and united. Your marriage will go one of two ways. You will struggle as a team together, against some difficulty, and grow closer and stronger because of it, or you will struggle against each other and those other things will become “issues”, etc. Ask any married couple worth their salt, and they will confirm what I say is true.
You could have an individual life that is like a beautiful quilt, but if you are not being woven together then each of you will just be different cloth, and eventually one cloth will be jealous of the other, and the split will happen because their was no common fabric in the first place.
This wisdom from God is not only for couples about to be married, those already married, those who may some day want to be married, but even for those who have gone through the pain of a divorce. We need to continually make ourselves ready to be what God calls us to be, we must be ready to have a godly marriage by being submitted to godly principles before we can be ready, and if we are, we will be okay even if we don’t get married. That is the building code.