Whether we state them as resolutions or not, most of us think through a few ways we’d like to improve each coming year. Among those goals…
All marriages seem to experience different seasons. There’s great seasons, hard seasons, exciting seasons, new seasons, painful seasons, and seasons we don’t even know how to define. But there’s one season that stands out to me most; it’s what I call a sweet season.
This “sweet season” has less to do with the circumstances of life, and more to do with how a husband and a wife are interacting with each other. Picture a marriage when a couple is working together well, when there’s warmth between them, when they seem to be going the same direction, finding refreshment in each other, no matter what’s going on in life.
This kind of season can go on for weeks, or months, or I imagine, especially as we age (I’ll explain why in a minute), it can go on for years. I’m sure you’d agree, getting to a sweet spot in marriage (and staying there for as long as possible) is worth some effort!
The Secret Sauce to a Sweet Marriage
Obviously, every marriage is going to have it’s struggles, and the goal is not to pretend we aren’t real people with real sin that’s going to cause real problems. Of course we are sinners, and of course we’ll have problems. But the goal is to respond right amidst our struggles. To be godly even when we don’t feel like it. And that is the heart of the secret sauce…and the essential ingredient in the secret sauce is selflessness.
When both spouses are working to be selfless at the same time (for a long enough period of time to be a strength of character, not just a passing mood), it makes a massive difference. It will take a marriage to the next level of goodness. A so-so marriage can become decent (at minimum), a decent marriage can become good, and a good marriage can become great!
Just think about it practically: neither spouse is having to fight for their rights or their way, because they are already being thought of by the other person. Enjoyment is natural when each is caring for the other’s interests. Warmth is organic when both people are truly loving each other well.
The more we work at selflessness the better we get at it, and the better our marriage becomes.
Better with Age
It’s my conjecture that any Christian marriage can move to full-on greatness over time. Again, not that there won’t be problems to work through, bad days that sneak in, or hard times to get through— but a marriage can be largely categorized as blissfully sweet when we keep working to do one thing: work out those selfish wrinkles that hide within our soul.
We will inevitably become better spouses when we spend years, even decades, becoming more selfless. In fact, two people continuing to aim their selflessness at each other at the same time for years… that is aging at it’s finest.
Furthermore, with age, both spouses know each other better than ever, while they are simultaneously growing in their maturity in Christ and ability to display selflessness. That means they know how best to be selfless, and they have more spiritual strength to show it. Again, if done right, this is what can make any marriage great.
What If It’s One Sided?
Without a doubt, there’s some who read this and only feel discouraged knowing there’s no way their spouse will reciprocate selflessness. Whether married to a non-Christian spouse, or a spouse un-attune to your marriage, that’s a difficult path to walk. If that’s you, let me offer 3 quick thoughts.
First, while putting effort into your marriage may not make it sweeter, it will make your relationship with Jesus sweeter. God is pleased by your efforts. He’ll be with you when your selflessness is not reciprocated. And inevitably, as you draw nearer to God for strength and help, your heart will draw closer to God as well. So let your desire to please the Lord be the fuel you need to be the best wife you can be.
Second, your marriage probably will get better even if you are the only one working on it. It’s hard for any relationship to stay stagnant if one person is attempting to pull it the right direction. So keep pulling, and while the movement may be slow, know you are taking things the right direction.
Finally, it’s very possible your efforts will influence your husband to be the man he should be. If you do it well, your godliness has power to win him over (1 Peter 3:1-2)! Meaning, your godliness can attract him to godliness, possibly making him want to be a godly selfless man himself. In which case, you are well on your way to a sweeter marriage.
And I suppose one more thought, which comes in the form of a question: What’s your other option? Be selfish instead? That would have none of these benefits, and will only make things worse. So press on friend. Know that it’s right and pleases God, it will probably make your marriage better and it may even win your husband over!
Let Today Be the Day
If you want a good marriage (and who doesn’t?), make your mind up today to fight selfishness. It comes in all forms, and sneaks up on us in all types of ways (next time there’s tension in your marriage, just see if you can’t find some lingering selfishness in your heart!). But one day at a time, we can make progress.
And Lord willing, we can all get to that point where we see our marriage has become better with age! It’s a good goal. Armed with the secret sauce, let’s make our marriages sweet.