April 14, 2020 | Coronavirus | Marriage | Counseling by Mike Greene
There are two books that speak volumes about the realities of marriage simply in their titles. The first is When Sinners Say I Do, and the other is What Did You Expect? When two sinners are joined in marriage, things will happen. The COVID-19 situation adds a new dimension with husbands and wives stuck in the house together for an extended time. For some, this is a blessing; for others, not so much.
The good news is that God wants you to have a healthy marriage even more than you do, and a godly marriage can endure even in times of trouble. The world searches endlessly for quick-fix programs and magic bullets that will produce a better marriage. While you might have some temporary improvement, none of these will bear lasting fruit. However, the good news is that the solution is not all that complicated. The secret to a healthy marriage can be summed up in a single word – grace. Realizing the grace that the Lord has given us, we can then show more grace to others; especially, your spouse. This does not mean that patterns of sin ought not to be dealt with; however, most of our conflicts come from things that become very small when your first priority is pursuing Christ with all of you heart.
The COVID-19 situation has certainly added extra stress to our lives. Keep in mind that how you handle that stress is determined by where your trust is, and Luke 6:43-45 reminds us that how you respond reflects what is already in your heart. While we can’t address all of the heart issues that may affect marriage in this article, there are some biblical truths concerning marriage that many people forget, or do not know.
- Love is not a feeling. The idea of falling in love and falling out of love is not biblical. Love is a decision to value another person and to be concerned for their needs. While feelings come with it, love is a choice. Being created in the image of God, you are capable of choosing.
- Love is not optional. God has commanded us to love. If we are commanded to even love our enemies, how much more should you love your spouse? By the way, your spouse is not the enemy.
- Marriage is not a contract. A contract implies that if you will do this, I will do that. Marriage is a three-way covenant that includes God. In this triangle, neither the husband nor the wife have unilateral authority. Look up some examples of covenants in your Bible to see how they differ from the worldly view of a contract. Considering these first three truths we have looked at so far, you can see that if you have a marriage problem, you really have a God problem.
- Marriage is your primary human relationship. A child-centered home will always adversely affect your marriage. That is not to say that loving and caring for your children is not a priority. But consider this, what could be more loving than demonstrating what a godly relationship looks like? You can be sure that your children will not learn that anywhere else. As we navigate this challenging time, your children will be blessed to see you loving each other and trusting God above all else.
Some Practical Steps
- Be intentional about showing love to each other whether you feel like it or not. This can be through serving and just making time for each other. See the resources link for a list of ideas. Pleasing the Lord should be your motivation, not getting what you want.
- Be intentional about having some alone time. While a date night out may not be possible right now, be creative and spend some time alone with each other regularly, as best you can.
- Share your heart. Talk about your fears, talk about your faith. Pray together.
- Prayerfully differentiate between sinful behavior and annoying behavior. Evaluate what might be destructive versus that which is disappointing. These must be dealt with in different ways. This applies to parenting, as well, which we will discuss in a future article.
- Be the peacemaker. If you are in Christ, you are called to be a peacemaker (see Matt. 5:9 and Rom. 12:14-19). We will discuss peacemaking and biblical conflict resolution in an upcoming article.
- Seek help, hopefully before it becomes a crisis. You have mature Christian friends, Life Group leaders, pastors and biblical counselors who love you and want to help. The truth is that we all need biblical course corrections on a regular basis. Don’t be afraid to reach out.
Don’t know where to turn? Click here to request help. A trained counselor or a pastor will respond to your request. If you have ongoing issues that will likely require long-term biblical counseling, continue reading about the Biblical Counseling Ministry and click on ‘Request Counseling’ to begin the process.
The world is still searching for the magic cure for marriage. As husbands and wives each pursue Christ with all their heart, we routinely see marriages improve. Trust Him today, and tell someone else about Jesus.
SPECIAL NOTE: We are fully aware that there are people living in controlling and abusive relationships, and the COVID-19 situation is likely making these situations worse. We do not take this lightly, and it is not the intent of this article to ignore them. If you are in a destructive relationship, we want to help. If you are in immediate danger, call 911 first and then contact the church. We may not know about your particular situation, but we are already praying for you.