My husband and I were having an ordinary lunch at a restaurant. Amid the clinking of cups and plates, he asked me a not-so-ordinary question.
“Why do you think we’ve managed to avoid a lot of problems in our marriage?”
I stopped eating, my fork raised halfway to my mouth, as I pondered his question. We had been lamenting about how many couples we know, some personally and some in the media, are struggling in their relationships. I didn’t have a clear answer, but my first reaction was to pat myself on the back for the health of our marriage. We obviously must be doing something right to be coming up on our thirteenth anniversary this year, and not only still love, but like, each other. I repeated the question back to my husband to hear his response.
“What do you think is the reason?”
His expression grew serious as he thought. “I think our personalities complement each other,” he said. After a pause, he finished with an answer that poked a hole in my ballooning ego.
“But really, I think it’s all because of God’s grace.”
Isn’t that the honest truth?
Our conversation brought to light two false beliefs I held: first, that I am such an awesome wife that I could single-handedly (along with my husband’s help of course) sustain a good relationship; and second, we are who we are and where we are at in our lives by our own merit.
I may naively try to take God’s credit, but the fact is I would really be playing a fool if I didn’t acknowledge His hand in our marriage. God’s grace is what holds my husband and I together each and every day. If we were to take an honest look at our hearts, we would see the selfishness and pride residing there. Our first inclination is to seek the best for ourselves at the expense of the other person. To go against this instinct truly takes something bigger and better than ourselves.
My husband and I know how to love each other because we have experienced God’s perfect love. His goodness towards us allows us to look beyond the small annoyances of socks lying on the floor, dishes piling up in the sink or a long “Honey Do” list. The heart-changing power of His Spirit also enables us to push through the bigger hurdles of life together, which in our marriage has included multiple job changes, the sudden death of a sibling, and the loss of one of our twins. God’s patience and faithfulness to us continually reminds us to listen, to forgive and to commit to one another through all of life’s ups and downs.
Our marriage is an ever-evolving partnership between two imperfect people only because of God’s grace. He is the source of all that is good in our relationship. Without Him, we would be like two kids dabbling our fingers in buckets of paint. With His presence in our lives, however, He guides us together to create a masterpiece more beautiful than any we could produce by ourselves.
Consider your own life. What evidences of God’s grace have you seen in your marriage? Whether you have been married for 3 months, 3 years or 33 years, God is always at work in your relationship. Know that He cares deeply for you and your spouse. When times are good, give thanks to the Lord and enjoy His blessings; when times are tough, call on Him for help. Recognize God as the author, provider and redeemer of your marriage.