A wedding is one of the most joyful and beautiful celebrations on earth.
The flowers and decorations, beautiful dresses and sparkling jewelry, radiant brides and grinning grooms all paint a wonderful picture. The traditions and symbols passed down from generation to generation speak words of wisdom and declare covenants.
Flowers signify joy within marriage and the rings testify to the unending love and devotion God has for his bride, as well as the love and devotion a couple should have for each other until death breaks the circle. There are festivities and music, food and dancing. In some cultures the wedding celebrations can go on for days.
But at some point the music fades, the flowers dry up, and only a memory of that intense joyful day remains.
And there is something else. Something that is with the bride and groom throughout the planning, the ceremony, and the honeymoon. Something that stays with them throughout their marriage.
You can’t see it as they walk down the aisle in all their splendor, but it is there–ugly and heavy though invisible for a time. As the honeymoon season ends and the wedding gifts are unpacked and put away, the baggage of our sin begins to be unpacked. Out comes pride and rudeness, unkind tone of voices, laziness and disrespect. Selfishness in various forms is unpacked and set up around the home.
Add to these vices the stresses of everyday life like bills, personal preferences, disagreements, small annoyances, fatigue and the marriage relationship can become strained.
What every married couple must confront is the reality that they did not marry an angel, but a sinner. The prince is part frog, and the princess is still cursed.
For the unprepared who have walked into marriage with romantic notions of a storybook life walk right into the wall of sin. And even those who are prepared for the realities of corruption in our most precious relationships it can be difficult and painful.
There are three things I have learned over the past 17 years of marriage that have helped my husband and I maintain joy and unity over the years–all of which are marked by his and my sin.
3 Ways to Keep the Joy and Unity
Be a Confessor
Know your sin. Be honest with yourself about your weaknesses and struggles. Be willing to admit when you mess up, when you fail, when you sin and repent. Repent before God, but repent before your spouse as well. Make apologies when needed without excuses or explanations.
Be a Forgiver
In marriage we will be sinned against. We have all experienced this and it is our job to be forgivers. Jesus told Peter to forgive 70 x7 times (Matt. 18:22 ), meaning infinitely. Why? because we have been forgiven. We have sinned against Christ more than any person will ever sin against us and he has forgiven each sin. We continue to sin against Christ and he continues to extend mercy, grace and forgiveness. Marriage is the perfect vehicle through which we can imitate God and live out the forgiveness we have been given by extending such grace to each other.
Be an Encourager
One of the blessings of being married is that you are not alone. Your partner is there to walk with you through all of life, and they need you and your words of grace as much as you need theirs. As a Christian this is not our real home, we are passing through and the journey is hard. We must learn to speak words of kindness and encouragement to our spouses because these words blossom into motivation and earnestness as we fight sin together in order to bring honor to our Savior.
Marriage is one of the most beautiful relationships on earth, but it is also one of the hardest.
Thankfully God is with us and for us, he will give us the strength and grace we need to handle hard days. The spirit will convict us of sins that we need to weed out and eradicate, and Christ has extended forgiveness to his children so we do not need to wallow in guit and sin, but can find joy and excitement to live for his glory together.
Jen Thorn, JenThorn.com
Jen grew up in Germany and spent a few years as a missionary kid in Africa. She ended up at Moody Bible Instituted where she met her husband. They have been married 17 years and have 4 children. She loves studying and talking about theology and has a passion to help women take their walk with God to a deeper level. She is one of the writers at goodmorninggirls.org, timewarpewife.com, christianity.com and jenthorn.com. You can find Jen on Twitter @Jenlthorn, on Facebook, and on Instagram.
Our books are now available: 100 Ways to Love Your Husband by Lisa Jacobson and 100 Ways to Love Your Wife by Matthew L. Jacobson