The youth pastor at our church got married last month. While I wasn’t able to attend, I heard the pastor made a point not often discussed: there are six people that enter into the marriage—you, your spouse’s expectation of you, God’s view of you, your spouse as they understand themselves, your expectation of your spouse, and God’s view of your spouse. That’s a lot of people getting married!
As a Christian mental health therapist, I love this concept. So often the couples I see in my office are there due to not understanding all of the people they married. And not focusing on the right one.
We all have our own view of our self—our own hangups, issues, and baggage. How we acknowledge that “stuff” will greatly impact how we step into our marriage. We can have preconceived notions of how we will be as a spouse, what roles we are going to play, and what areas of marriage we are going to lead and/or control.
Our tendency can be to view ourselves through the lens of our life’s experiences and how we view ourselves from the start. Even if we are actively attempting to change aspects of our life, we still see ourselves as the whole picture.
2. Your Spouse’s Expectation of You
Your spouse’s view of you starts from the moment you met. That means his or her context is limited in time, and not the same as yours. It is colored by how they’ve experienced you from the moment you started journeying together—the thoughts and emotions you elicit in them.
In addition, your spouse has expectations of how they envision life together. While they are marrying you, they are also marrying that vision for what they hope their spouse or marriage will be. For some, that dream has been a long time in coming.
3. God’s View of You
And then there is God’s view of you. He intimately knows your past, present, and future. He created everything in you and has foreseen who you will become. He knows your past pain. And the angst in your heart. God is aware of your every thought and the state of your soul.
4. Your Spouse as They Understand Themselves
Just as you have a view of yourself, so does your spouse. They have pain that you may not know or understand. Insecurities that don’t make sense to you. Dreams that have been buried deep.
Just like you have a belief of how you will be as a spouse, so do they. They may have dreamed of their life as a married couple far before they knew you existed—what it should look like, based on their expectation. They may have already written their role and rehearsed their lines as spouse many times over.
5. Your Expectation of Your Spouse
As you say “I do” you are walking into a marriage with a set of expectations and ideals—beliefs that you have carried pertaining to marriage and your future spouse. There are likely areas that you are excited for and, additionally, areas of marriage that you believe are going to be less than enjoyable.
6. God’s View of Your Spouse
In the same way God knows you, He has an unparalleled understanding of your spouse. He knows the depth of their soul and every step of their future. God can hear your spouse’s thoughts and experience every emotion.
All these “people” in your marriage are shaped by different experiences and expectations, but God’s view of you and God’s view of your spouse is unquestionably the truest version of you both. So how do you focus on those two people? Here are four steps:
- Invite God into your marriage on a daily basis. Ask for His guidance first for your own growth and continued relationship with Him. Ensure that you are spending time daily with God both in the word and through prayer. The more connected you are to Him, the more you will understand His version of yourself… and your spouse (leading to the next step).
- Ask for God’s guidance to view your spouse through His eyes. Ask Him to show you how to give love and encouragement to your spouse so that their relationship with God flourishes.
- Be vulnerable and honest with your spouse. Talk about your visions, dreams, and expectations of marriage. This will make room for authentic communication and discussions, bringing to the surface expectations that don’t line up with what you are experiencing.
- Ask God for clarity when you come across disagreements. Pray together and seek His authority. He alone is able to reveal who you each truly are and are meant to be.
As you put these four steps into action, I pray you will grow closer and deeper in love with the one person God has joined you together with.