The Biggest Fight in your Marriage
When my wife and I look back on our wedding reception, we laugh as we remember our first dance as a married couple . Not just because I was (and still am!) a terrible dancer, but because we spent most of the dance arguing…about dancing. No one seemed to notice as we made it through the dance. From time to time though when we are sitting around a table with others at a wedding reception, it makes for a good story.
If you’ve been married for longer than a day, you know that conflict is inevitable in marriage. There will naturally be points of tension and disagreement. When you put two people together, who are both prone to selfishness and pride, it won’t take long before some sort of conflict arises.
Sadly though, when conflict hits, or when it persists, many couples choose to give up and walk away from their marriage.
One of the things that grieves me the most is the number of Christians who are giving up on their marriages. I’m not familiar with the actual statistics on this. But I know of many Christian couples over the years who have decided to walk away from their marriages and the vows that they have made to each other before the Lord. Some days, when I start thinking about it, it just makes me mad.
I want to be super clear on this: I don’t claim to know all of the issues or factors involved in each of these different cases. I recognize that it is often very messy and complicated. I understand that it takes two people to work out a marriage and that the path forward is not easy.
But I have also walked my own road. And from my own experience, I have come to believe this about marriage:
The biggest fight in your marriage is the one FOR your marriage.
The biggest battle you will face is not going to be over money, or kids, or sex, or where you should live, or who should wash the dishes or take out the garbage. The biggest fight you will face will be resisting the temptation at whatever level to give up on your marriage and walk away.
Why is it so important to ght for your marriage? Here are a few reasons why I think this is a big deal:
#1: You made a promise.
Jesus said this about marriage:
“Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Matthew 19:5-6 ESV)
When my wife and I got married, we stood at the front of a church with our pastor, surrounded by family and friends, and exchanged our vows. I made a vow that as God joined us together, I would forsake all others and be faithful to her alone. I promised to her that I would love, honour and cherish her, for better or for worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, as long as we both shall live. This was and remains my solemn vow.
Now let’s be honest. Over the course of our marriage, have I scored a 10 out of 10 on this? Have I loved, honoured and cherished her perfectly even single day? Not even close! But these are the vows that I made to her before the Lord, and the ones I must strive to fulfill every single day. This is what I said I would do.
And so did you. Your vows might not have been exactly the same as mine. But you did make some commitments that day, didn’t you? And those still matter. Why should you fight for your marriage? Because you made a promise.
#2: God hasn’t given up on you.
One of the objections that people make about keeping their promise is that the other person isn’t keeping theirs. They aren’t holding up their end of the deal, so why should I?
It’s a fair question. I find it helpful though to approach this objection through the lens of my relationship with God.
Consider these two verses:
“I have loved you with an everlasting love. Therefore I had continued my faithfulness to you” (Jeremiah 31:3 ESV)
“If we are faithless, He remains faithful – for He cannot deny Himself” (2 Timothy 2:13 ESV)
Every single day I am unfaithful to God by my disobedience. I haven’t held up my end of the deal. But because of His everlasting love for me, God hasn’t bailed on me. He hasn’t given up on me, even though in my sinfulness I have given Him plenty of reasons to. He remains faithful. This is the bar that has been set by Him.
And this is why we must fight for our marriages. This is why we must not give up on one another – because God has not given up on us.
#3: The world is watching.
The Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy these words about himself:
“Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.” (1 Timothy 1:15b 16 ESV)
Whether we like it or not, our lives are on display to the world around us. As followers of Jesus, people are watching us in how we raise our kids, in how we spend our money, in what we talk about online, and in how we conduct ourselves in our marriage, particularly when things get hard. Everything we do is an opportunity to put the power and glory of Jesus Christ on display to a watching world that we might be an example to those who were to believe in him.
When the world sees a Christian couple fighting hard to save their marriage, it sends a message about the reality of the gospel of Jesus Christ. When two people humble themselves before God and each other, acknowledging their selfishness, and seeking God’s strength to restore their marriage, it puts Jesus on display. It says that Jesus Christ is real and that His power is sufficient for us in all things.
At the end of the day, isn’t that what we want the world to see as they look at our marriages? Not perfect, but Jesus at the centre!
So where do we go from here? There are lots of resources available to help navigate the difficult waters that occur in marriage. My encouragement though is simply this: Don’t stop fighting for your marriage. Don’t cash it in and walk away. If possible, as far as it depends on you, pursue peace and reconciliation. Get the help that you need. Believe that all things are possible for God. Trust that He will give grace to those who are humble before Him. Do not grow weary of doing good. Believe that someday you will reap the rewards of your perseverance if you don’t give up.
May God help us in all these things.