One lesson I learned early in marriage was what it meant to be the other person’s person. The beauty of marriage is that we become unified and a single person before God. We work together, live together, worship together, serve together, all with this understanding that while we are two different people, unique and beautiful in our own ways, we become one body and strive to act as one in public. And that sounds easy to say, but the reality is hard to live out.
Paul writes in Ephesians 5:22-23 how this relationship should work. It’s about submitting yourself and giving all of yourself to your spouse. Your spouse is now the center of your life, humanly speaking. God has given us the significant task of emulating Jesus' love for his church in how we love our spouse. God calls us to love them, dedicate ourselves to them, and work toward their good that they might be righteous.
The rub that can happen early in a marriage is that both people, who have lived their whole lives for themselves, now have to live together. They used to do what they want, when they want, and live mostly for themselves. Independence is generally a good thing, and we teach our kids to take responsibility for themselves and launch into the world. But now take two people who have managed to take responsibility for mostly themselves and tell them to include another in everything. To put your spouse before you, to serve them before you, to get the okay for plans from them before acting, to need to have conversations before making purchases, these are new behaviors to learn. Marriages usually begin with needing to forge new patterns of creating mutual priorities and considerations.
I remember an incident early on in our marriage where a simple phone call would have avoided creating a large issue out of something that really wasn’t an issue. And the misunderstanding wasn’t out of malice, it wasn’t out of anything but simply being newlyweds and still trying to navigate making decisions together. It’s often difficult to think of what the other person may need when that's not a habit you've yet had to cultivate. It’s also very difficult to ask for forgiveness in those moments too.
I pray these suggestions find space in your heart and help you in your marriage. They’ve been hard learned but needed for me.
Marriage is difficult enough as it is, and there are things we can do early on to make the transition from two into one much smoother, healthier, edifying to us, and glorifying to God. In the end, remember all of us have these struggles and so your marriage is not alone.
Rev. Dr. Steven Koster
Rev. Dr. Steven Koster
Rev. Travis Jamieson