I have come to what I think is the secret of a happy life and especially marriage. It first starts with our view of God. God, namely the person Jesus must become to us our everything. All our hopes and fears throughout the years must first find their anchor in our God. What in this world is worth fearing but our righteous, Holy God alone? What in this world is worth hoping in (trusting) except our God and Savior?
Every fear except God is the fear of something insignificant and temporal. To fear God is to fear the one who directs your life, the good and the bad, and hold your eternal destiny in His hands. This is not to say you don’t hold any responsibility for your actions and thoughts, but that ultimately God is in Control, He is Holy, you are not, you deserve Hell and your only hope is the blood of Christ. This alone should cause you to fear God, not to mention the fact that He is the creator God and is all powerful and amazing.
Every thing you trust in apart from God will ultimately fail you. Your health will fail you, your money will fail you, your job will fail you, your friends will fail you, your family will fail you, and anything else you put your trust in for security and happiness, for meaning and life, will ultimately fail you apart from God. God has promised to never fail us nor forsake us (His children, which are believers, not unbelievers). He has promised to provide for us now and in the future, however, He has provided for our greatest need already, our need to be reconciled to Him our Holy and Amazing God. Any other need is ultimately trivial bar our need for reconciliation (salvation).
So I think for a happy life we must first put our trust and hope in God and look to Him to meet our needs, to be our joy and salvation. Yes, we are called to work, to have dominion over the earth, to be in relationships, have responsibilities, enjoy God’s wonderful creation, but all this is trivial and ultimately meaningless without us being trusting, justified, children of God. If you are the richest, best looking, most successful, most giving, most helpful, most loved, most liked person to ever live and Christ has not paid for your sins, your life is ultimately meaningless to you, because you will spend most of it in Hell for your sins. Yes, you might have done a lot of good in this life and blessed a lot of people and made this world more livable, however, for yourself your life was meaningless because you ultimately failed to save yourself from a Holy and righteous Judge who holds you accountable for even your thoughts.
So how does this work for marriage? The problem with us humans in general is that we are sinners. We are selfish and mean when hurt. We also don’t get it, we are idolaters, and seek our happiness in every god but the true God.
We think marriage is a give and take relationship, where if we give we must also take in like kind. We expect reciprocity for our good deeds done to our spouse. We have needs, they have needs, we have strengths they have strengths, It seems like a good match to us, when we find someone that has what we need and when we have something they need. Ultimately we become takers, looking out for ourselves, demanding that our needs get met, and then we wonder why our marriages are falling apart.
What we forget is that our marriages are designed to be grounded in Godly love, a love that gives and does not ask in return. 1 Cor 13:4-8. We wrongly think we should only love when the person deserves it or is meeting our needs, and this is why our marriages ultimately fail. Read those verses and then apply it to your marriage and see if you both acted in such a way, if your marriage would be having trouble? Or if you are not married, think of what that kind of marriage would look like.
So I propose to you a new way to look at marriage (not really new, but probably to most of us). I propose that we see marriage as first a command from God (be fruitful and multiply) designed by God, for His glory, and second for our good. Not good in the sense that all our felt needs are met, but that we are blessed because we love someone else, and glorify God in our relationship, which cause others to praise Him.
This means that we need to approach marriage with an entirely different view than what comes natural to us, namely selfishness. We must see marriage as a place where we can glorify God by loving the other person unconditionally, without a demand for pay back. This love needs to be a one-way street, where we love another and do not require or demand any love or thing back because we are found complete in Christ and have no need for anything else. I am not saying that marriage needs to be a place where people only give and never get anything in return, or that we don’t find joy and satisfaction in our relationships, but rather we must have this view on it: I am going to love this person no matter what, no matter what they do, even if my love is never returned.
Hopefully your love is returned, however you shouldn’t love with the thought that it must be, but rather love so that you are surprised that it is. Love unconditionally with out expecting any in return, so that when it is (hopefully) you will be surprised.
I think if both people go into a marriage thinking that they are going to love the other person for God’s sake and glory, no matter what, no matter if its returned, for the other person’s good and joy, then that marriage will be healthy and successful. However, if we go into a marriage with the thought that I am going to give such and such, and require this and that in return, well then I think its doomed until you change your view on it.
You married people, have you even looked at your vows? Basically it says you are going to love that person no matter what. You cannot, according to the vows, expect any love in return, because through them you even promise to love and cherish the other person even if they become a cripple and can never move, speak, or hear again. If you vow from the beginning such a thing, you should be ready to do it even if they don’t become a cripple. And if you cannot truly vow such a thing, then no marriage for you and no sex.
Yes this is a pretty high view of marriage, and I think it is about what God thinks (I’m not going to claim to know everything He thinks or exactly how He thinks about it). This should sober many people wanting to get married, and if received and followed should help many marriages survive and flourish.
Let us stop being selfish and looking out for only ourselves, let us lean and trust in God for our provisions. Let us have a higher view of life, namely that we are here to ultimately glorify God, and if such a thing is our aim, then we will be happy. God wants both, His glory and our happiness, but they are not separated.