What makes a beautiful Marriage?
So, what makes a beautiful marriage? Or what makes a marriage beautiful?
Well, lets think about it. Is it love? Is that the special ingredient? Just add lots of love to a marriage. Or, is it lots of love and none of the negative things? Is that the secret? No, not exactly. It is a little more complex than that. It is true that love is very important, but what kind of love? What kind of love does a marriage need? What is the definition of love? And, it is true, that the negative things that come into a marriage relationship can do great damage. But getting through difficulties together can also strengthen a marriage when the difficulties are addressed correctly, especially if we allow God to bring his miraculous healing.
So a beautiful marriage is not just lots of love with limited negative experiences. There are actually a lot of factors that go in the mix to make a beautiful marriage and although there are some ingredients that are extremely important, there is not just one recipe for a beautiful marriage. Some beautiful marriages, for example, may not have a lot of years, and yet they are beautiful. And there are some beautiful marriages that are mature, loving and gentle after having gone through some very difficult experiences.
So, what are some of the most important ingredients that help to make a beautiful marriage? Let me make a short list.
There is love, maturity, commitment, forgiveness, a good attitude, and one more thing.
Yes, there is one more thing, without which the marriage will not have all of its possible and intended beauty. This last thing is both a power source and a very special guide for each of the partners of the marriage. Some of you may be a little stumped and curious at this point, wondering what I could be referring to. You may be thinking, “hmm, maybe its a flashlight.” A flashlight has a power source and it can help guide you, but I am not thinking of a flashlight. This final important ingredient is actually not a thing, and it is a little difficult to just pull up on the table and say, “here it is, you need this.” And some people have lived their whole lives, likely at no fault of their own, completely ignorant or maybe ignoring this important ingredient of a beautiful marriage.
This important ingredient is God.
But not just any idea of God. God means many things to many people. I am referring to the God who was illustrated through the life of Jesus, the God of the bible. If you have all of the other ingredients, but don’t have God, or rather, God doesn’t have you and your spouse, the marriage cannot be all that God designed it to be.
Yes, God designed marriage. So, if we have all the other ingredients to exact perfection, but do not have God empowering, guiding, and leading us with his love, grace, purpose and mission, we will fall very short of the beautiful marriage that God intended for us when he made the first man and then said, “It is not good for man to be alone.” Then he created woman and brought them together and said that they should “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and rule over it. These things are found in the first three chapters of Genesis, in the bible. You can ignore this last important ingredient for a beautiful marriage if you want and you may still have a good marriage for a while, but you will notice that there seems to be something missing in your marriage. I’ll tell you what is missing. It is the joy and purpose that comes with a personal relationship with the God who designed marriage and made man and woman. The bible says that marriage, when it is done right, illustrates the relationship of Jesus and his bride, that is, Jesus and those who know, love and follow him. God’s people or children are those who know him and obey and follow him. When two of these kind of people get married, they have some special benefits that are a blessing to their marriage from the start. First, they have God’s power working in and through them, and secondly, they can have God’s purposes and wisdom to guide them and lead in the way and ways that they should go. God always has a way for us to go, and we can know that way if we know God and are listening to him. In addition to all that, when we read the bible, particularly the new testament, we see that after we become a child of God by admitting our sin, which has separated us from God, and accepting his free gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ, we receive the Spirit of God in our life, and he never leaves us. So, God is not just a personal friend now, always available to lead us and guide us and answer our prayers in the way he finds best for us. But God is now inside of us as the Holy Spirit to convict us of error and give us special guidance in life. These concepts are all in the bible, particularly the new testament. So, to have the best marriage possible, it is important to know God well, which is achieved mainly by reading his revelation, which is the bible, and obey God and follow his ways or instructions, which we find in the bible. Then we can have the beautiful marriage that God intended for us.
But the list of things that I started with, the ingredients of a beautiful marriage, are not simple to just add, like in a cake recipe. Each “ingredient” must be understood and defined so that it is clear, what exactly it is that we want to add to our marriage, so that we can have a more beautiful marriage. And it also takes time to get good at each of these qualities that we will want to add. Adding immature love, for example, is not at all like adding a more mature kind, gentle and patient love. I will go through each of these important things to get at the meanings more exactly.
Love may be the most misunderstood and and confusing word in the English language. What one person means by love is not often what another person means by love. It is often not even what the same person means by love when they say it in different contexts. Some will say, “love is like a puppy.” How exactly does that even help to define such a complex idea. Others will say, “love is all we need,” but they don’t define what that love is. Love has many different aspects and levels of meaning.
Romance is important, but sacrifice and commitment is a completely different kind of love.
Sacrificial love is the basis of consideration and caring. While, in English, the word ‘love’ is often used to mean many very different things, it can be very helpful to look at four different Greek words for four different kinds of love. Eros, is the Greek word for romantic love, while Philo is the Greek word for brotherly love. A third word is Agape, which is a sacrificial type of love that can only be fully expressed when we are allowing God’s love to be channeled through us. A fourth Greek word for love is Storge, which is the instinctual love that a child has for a parent.
Now the reason that it is important to understand these different aspects of the word ‘love’ is so that we can clearly understand the difference between a giving or sacrificial type of love and a taking kind of love, which really is not love at all. Young people often say, “I am in love.” What they mean is that they are infatuated with a person. They may have happy and good feelings that are sometimes associated with love. But the feelings are not love. For a marriage to thrive and be beautiful, the way it was intended, each person must realize that even though it is easier to focus on what they want, mature love is when the needs of the other person are considered as more important than my own. It doesn’t mean that one’s own needs are not important. Consider the words in the bible, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests, but each of you to the interests of the others.” When we think like that and have that attitude, we will be better listeners and more pleasant spouses. For more on this topic, you may want to see, “Givers, Takers and other kinds of Lovers” by Josh McDowell.
More coming soon. . .
Look for some thoughts on:
maturity, commitment, forgiveness,
and a good attitude. . .
So, come back soon and see my next post.