On Thursday morning, I attended the pre-conference hosted by Winston Smith to discuss his book Marriage Matters. The basic message of the book is that change in marriage happens in the ordinary moments of life. You know, those irritations with your spouse that you sometimes feel. Those things that have gotten under your skin before and will likely get under your skin again. In those moments, God intends to do the work of real change.
This is great news. If change happens in the ordinary moments, then I can give up the expectation and longing I have for some “aha!” moment when everything will suddenly be made better. As I meditate on and practice the truth, then I will see his grace shaping me each day in my interactions with my spouse.
I am prone to negative reactions to my spouse when I feel unloved. But, the problem with my perspective is that I am defining love by constructing a definition out of my experiences of love. Usually this means that if I received love in a way that connected with me, I look for love to be delivered to me that way. When my spouse doesn’t deliver love the way I expect then watch out! For example, I may believe that love is expressed by hearing my wife say positive things about me. If she doesn’t say those things I become sullen and withdrawn. The answer to this problem, however is not to sit my wife down and tell her I need more affirmation. The fix to the problem is to define love as God defines it and Christ demonstrates it (1 John 4:7-10). When Jesus came showing true love – he wasn’t affirmed and praised – he was murdered. Jesus came showing the love of God, and people didn’t want his love. This reveals a deep human problem. We want love on our terms, not God’s. It’s the same way in marital relationships. I want love on my terms. But, God messes with my categories by introducing a love that goes beyond what I want to what I need.
Change occurs when I re-align my ideas of love with what the Bible says love is. This means I won’t fight with my spouse to get her to love me in the way I want to be loved, but rather it means that I will move toward my wife in ways that demonstrate the realities of true love – sacrifice and service.
If, by God’s grace, I can learn this lesson well, my marriage will be improved. Especially in ordinary moments!
Looking forward to tomorrow – we begin the day at 9:00am with a session entitled: Making Sense of Complex Problems, with Ed Welch. One of my favourite CCEF presenters!