Marriage is hard even under normal conditions. When you mix in a different continent and new culture, it can become even more trying. Our first year here in South Africa was the most difficult year of our 27 years of marriage.
Paul Tripp in his book “What Did You Expect?” shares six commitments for couples to strive to do in order to “redeem the realities of marriage.” The bottom line is: I am a sinner married to a sinner. Just as God extended grace to me, a marriage partner must also extend grace to their spouse. This principal becomes a lifestyle in our marriages. He writes:
The spiritual gardening that will make for a beautiful marriage (pulling and planting) must largely be done within our own heart. There are self-centered thoughts, attitudes, desires, motives, choices, and goals that must be uprooted from the soil of your heart, and new seeds of other-focused thoughts, attitudes, desires, motives, choices, and goals must be planted in their place.
What does this look like for me in our marriage?
*When I want to stay home and not socialize, I willingly sacrifice that time and go where my husband wants me to go.
*I keep my mouth shut when I want to interject in what he is saying because I’m direct and to the point and he is not. (Oh, this is hard!)
*I don’t manipulate him into serving my desires.
God definitely uses my husband to expose the sinfulness of my heart in so many ways. It is only by God’s grace that we have been able to persevere through our tough times. The author closes his book with this thought:
It really is true-a marriage of unity, understanding and love is not rooted in romance. It is rooted in worship. It is when we love God more than we love ourselves and when we quit building our own little kingdom and start seeking His that we will love our spouse.
Is grace lacking in your marriage? Is it not what you expected? Then the counsel of this book is for you.
Does looking at yourselves as sinners change the way you may think about your marriage? What is a way that you extend grace to your spouse?