Relationships are hard. They take work to build, deepen, and maintain. They need a massive investment of time and energy. With conflict and difficulty as promised ingredients along the way.
In no relationship is this truer than within marriage.
Marriage is great! Joy, love, encouragement, and all the things you need and want spring from such a deep union of souls. Marriage is also the most difficult relationship you’ll ever have.
Your spouse knows EVERYTHING about you. They see you at your best, and at your worst. In fact, they see sides of you that remain hidden from the rest of the world.
You conflict with your spouse–the person you love most–more than with anyone else.
They do things that annoy you. They leave dishes in the sink, towels on the floor, cloths unfolded, and put the toilet paper on wrong. Yes, there is a right way to put toilet paper on.
The things you once loved and admired while dating grate on you. What was once fun and spontaneous, is now reckless and disorganized. What was once cute, is now another annoyance added to your daily life.
Each of these things is part of God’s design and purpose for your marriage. Yes, all.
Think about it for a moment.
What is the purpose of your marriage?
Is it not meant to communicate the gospel? To provide a tangible example of how God in Christ pursues, forgives, loves, and cares for His bride, the church.
Is it not also meant as one of the primary vehicles for your transformation? To help you conform to the image of Christ.
The seemingly insignificant and difficult things you experience in marriage have immense value and meaning. They are the things the Lord uses to conform you to the image of Christ.
They are tools in the hands of a good, perfect, loving, and sovereign God.
They are God’s gift to you.
They are things you should thank God for.
Through the difficulty, hardship, and pain marriage brings God is at work. He is shaping you like a fine masterpiece. He is smooths away all the rough edges, shapes the curves, and forms you into a representation of Jesus.
That’s your destiny if you are in Christ–conformity into His image.
All the things you complain about and have to fight through are part of that process. They are the very things required to get you there. They are the means of your transformation.
Of course, this is true of all Christian relationships. They are part of the “all things” Paul makes mention of in Romans 8:28.
Marriage compresses life and exposes things. It holds up a mirror for you to gaze into and see all the issues, faults, and selfishness that resides within. It provides you the greatest opportunity to put your faith into action on a daily basis.
In short, it is the greatest seminary or school in godliness you’ll attend.