A godly marriage is one of deep abundance, peace and joy. This does not mean it is free from tough issues or without problems, as there is no such thing as a perfect marriage.
Jesus must be the focal point in marriage, not your spouse. Much of the time, without being aware of it, we end up idolizing our spouse and making them our God, instead of allowing God to be our God.
How do we make Jesus the focal point? We begin with recognizing that marriage was God's idea. He had the plan for it. We often act like marriage is only about our happiness, but marriage is designed to glorify God.
In the New Testament, Ephesians 5: 21- 31 gives us direction and guidance on how to submit to Christ and one another. It explains how husbands are to love their wives like Christ loved the church and love them like they love their own bodies. It also addresses how a man should leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, thus the two be united into one unit. Lastly, this passage talks about how a wife must respect her husband.
This is a tall order for all of us! What stands out is that, ultimately, we are each to submit to Christ out of obedience, submit to each other, and pray to have a servant's heart in our marriage.
Trouble is, our culture lacks an accurate concept of what serving means. Husbands, how is God calling you to serve your wife in Ephesians 5? It points out that men are to love their wives like Christ loved the church. Was Christ not the greatest servant of all? He is our protector, our provider, our covering. Men, He is your example! Jesus shows us how to serve.
Jeff and I often share with couples this analogy: What kind of marriage do you think you would have if the two of you were competing to "out-serve" each other?
During our first marriage, Jeff and I had no idea how to serve one another. We fought infrequently and were polite to each other, but there was no real attempt to understand true servanthood. We both ended up selfish and self-focused, each waiting on the other to come to our service.
Yet God gave us a second chance! This time our marriage is different. We now wholeheartedly seek to learn how to better love God and each other. We made so many mistakes in our first marriage, but now have the opportunity to do it His way. Even after 10 years back together, we remain so very grateful for the opportunity. Our goal is to live out Galatians 5:16-25 (ESV):
But I say, walk by the spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control; against such things there is not law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.
So how can we serve each other practically in the different aspects of a relationship: spiritually, physically and emotionally?
Scripture calls us to serve each other spiritually by learning and following what it means to take on the character traits of Jesus and living these out. We also serve each other spiritually by being obedient to God and seeking His ways through His Word.
Scripture calls us to serve each other physically by being gentle, kind, patient and displaying self-control. The Bible also calls us to serve each other sexually: "Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control" (1 Corinthians 7:5).
Finally, God calls us to serve each other emotionally through a loving nature, by pursuing peace in the marriage, and by being joyful in our relationship. 2 Corinthians 2:3 (ESV) gives us a great example of how our joy can benefit others: "Surely you all know that my joy comes from your being joyful".
God is trying to teach you many things through your marriage. He desires to mold and shape you into what he wants you be. Our focus in marriage, this time around, is on serving God and each other, rather than focusing on ourselves.