This post on Sacred Marriage: Building Perseverance was written by Jeffrey Chen, who is pursuing a Masters degree in Marriage and Family Therapy at Fuller Theological Seminary. Jeffrey has a passion for sharing God’s love with those around him. He blogs at The Wayvy Life.
Welcome to Week 8 of our series on “Sacred Marriage” by Gary Thomas. This week’s chapter (chapter eight) is titled “Sacred History: Building the Spiritual Discipline of Perseverance.” As I have talked about in previous posts, infatuation fades away in relationships. In this chapter, Thomas focuses on building what he calls a “sacred history” with your spouse, by which he means you have the opportunity to create a relationship that mirrors God’s love for His people. Mainly, through years of marriage, we can learn to persevere in our commitment to our husband or wife just as God perseveres in His love for us.
While in an ideal world, marriages and relationships would be easy and filled with constant joy, that is obviously not the case. As with pretty much anything in life, marriage is filled with highs, but also lows. There will be many great times and memories full of excitement and laughter, but there will also be times of boredom and dullness. There will be times when we become tired of routines, cold towards our partners, and angry or upset at each other and ourselves. These seasons will not be fun, but Thomas believes it is during these moments that we can grow in our understanding of God’s love for us. Because God never stops loving us or choosing us no matter how many times we yell at Him, become silent towards Him, or turn our back on Him.
We have one of two choices in marriage. We can run away when it gets hard, or we can choose to stay through the good times and the bad times over and over again. Thomas believes that in order to develop intimacy with our partner and model the character of God, we must do the latter. He points to research that says it can take from nine to fourteen years for a couple to “create and form its being.”
This is because it takes time for a fancy term called neuroplasticity to happen, which is basically the idea that our brain adjusts to our experiences, choices, and actions. In the context of marriage, it takes time for our brain to shift away from identity as a single individual to a half of a couple – to go from “me” to “we.” It is through this process that a deep intimacy develops between a couple, as two become one. However, this takes time and thus perseverance through the many obstacles that are sure to come over the first decade of marriage.
Now, to be clear, I am not suggesting you stay in a marriage that has become toxic and unhealthy due to abuse, infidelity, addiction, or other serious problems. While there is certainly hope for healing and reconciliation in some situations, other times there is not. And that is okay. I am focusing on, and I think Thomas is as well, being able to stay strong through struggles that often lead to the end of marriages, but do not have to. This could be financial issues, stress from raising children, constant arguments about household chores, feeling unsatisfied or bored, etc. Because these things happen in every marriage! Your spouse isn’t perfect for you, you are not perfect for them, so of course there are going to disagreements and hard times!
However, it is during these moments, or even seasons, of tension and hardening of hearts that you can show your true love for your spouse. It is during these times that you can say to your spouse, “Hey, this really sucks right now, but I am not going to let this break us. No matter how hard it gets or how long this season lasts, I am never going to give up on you and quit on this marriage. We’re going to get through this.”
You will be tested in marriage, there is no doubt about that. The question is, what do you do when the waves come crashing in? I hope you can persevere in fighting to make your imperfect marriage into something beautiful and long-lasting, knowing that God is pleased with your efforts through it all, no matter the outcome. I will leave you with one of Thomas’ favorite verses from 2 Thessalonians 3:5, “May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.”
As always, please feel free to reach out to me for feedback, questions, suggestions on topics, or anything else. I’m happy to chat about anything and everything. I hope you can take away something helpful from this post. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
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