Most husbands and wives are going in the wrong direction. They need to turn around – but they don’t know it.
The happy pair waving to their friends as they drive off on their honeymoon, need to turn around. However, they don’t know it and may never recognise the route to their greatest marital happiness.
The older couple who have nearly finished raising their children need to turn around. Much of the dullness in their marriage is because they have been facing in the wrong direction all their married life.
Most married couples need to “turn around” because each one is looking at their spouse the wrong way.
Unconsciously both bride and groom subscribe to the notion, “It’s all about my happiness.”
While husband and wife think of themselves as totally committed to “each other” that is likely not true at all. People inherently see life from their own perspective.
What do most people do when they look at a photo of a group they are in? People almost universally look to see how they have come out in the picture. That’s representative of how people filter life based on what has meaning to them.
While people are keenly interested in family, friends and loved ones, they still put their ultimate interest in their own ‘self’.
The Right Direction
Marriage is to be directed differently than toward our self. Marriage is not meant to be focused on what people want. It is not about creating the best deal for each individual. Instead, marriage is to be directed ‘toward the spouse’. Both husband and wife have to learn how to make their spouse the focus of their marriage.
That may be contrary to nature, but it is the key to a delightful and successful marriage. The right direction for marriage is “toward the spouse”, not toward self.
Consider the scenario that may well take place on a wedding day….
A bride giggles with her friends. They are so happy for her. The groom is everything they want a husband to be. Their delighted talk celebrates how blessed the bride is to have won the heart of such a man. As they compliment the bride they are sure this man will love her wholeheartedly.
The groom is congratulated by all his friends. They celebrate her beauty and his luck in finding such a desirable bride. He accepts their observations, for he has thought the same things, himself. He is sure that she will make him blissfully happy.
And so the couple come together, each blessed to be blessed by the other.
Yet some time down the track it is likely they have both changed their minds. There may well be moments when she calls him “unfeeling”, “uncaring” and a “beast”. There may well be moments when he is stung by her selfish words and ways. At times they may fight. At times they may curse each other. Yet there will likely be times when they press through the turmoil to cling to each other and weep for their folly and pain.
What underlies such outcomes is selfishness. It is there on the wedding day, masked by hopes and happiness. In time it emerges more strident and destructive as bride and groom struggle for realisation of their selfish ambitions.
The Bible Gives Direction
A wrong direction in marriage should never occur, since the Bible clearly specified the right direction in marriage 2,000 years ago. However, each successive generation tends toward its own selfishness and needs to be reminded of the higher calling.
The right direction, as mentioned earlier, is “toward the spouse”. That’s not how the Bible says it, but that message comes through loud and clear for all who have “ears to hear”.
What is the Bible’s clearest instruction to husbands? The most repeated instruction for husbands is, “Husbands love your wife“. The Apostle Paul repeated this instruction multiple times, making it the most definite call on a husband.
So, what is the “direction” of that command? Does it support self-interest? Is it directed at the wishes of the husband? Is it about the husband’s happiness? Does it allow for the husband to be angry if his selfish expectations are not met?
The direction of that command is toward the wife. The husband is commanded to make his wife his focus and to love her. It does not matter if the wife is exactly what he wanted or hoped her to be. It doesn’t matter if the husband is delighted with or challenged by the marriage. The principal command is to have a direction completely opposite to ‘self’.
The Wife’s Direction
Just as the husband is commanded to love his wife, the wife is commanded to submit to her husband. This is by far the most repeated command to wives in the whole Bible. Here again we see that the wife’s direction is not toward herself, but toward her husband. Submission is not an act of selfishness, but of selflessness.
The wife is commanded to make her husband her focus. It does not matter whether the husband is exactly what she wanted or hoped him to be. It doesn’t matter if the wife is delighted with or challenged by her marriage. The principal command is to have a direction completely opposite to ‘self’.
If you have been struggling with issues in your marriage it may simply be that you have to “turn around”. The Bible word for turning around is “repent”. It is time to repent of selfishness and to turn attention to your spouse. This does not mean that you idolise them, but that the husband “love” his wife, and the wife “submit” to her husband.
No matter what you think or feel about your husband or wife, you are under God’s instruction to stay in the right direction. If you react to your spouse you will most likely do that in selfishness. As soon as you become selfish you have steered the marriage back toward yourself, not toward your spouse.
Remember that both husband and wife have to keep their personal direction focused on the spouse. As you steer yourself toward your spouse, not yourself, your marriage is going in the right direction.