Field of Vision
Marriage horizons are about garnering the excitement of new frontiers, reigning over boredom and stagnation, and framing our experiences through the divine lens. This is the way forward in building a godly marriage and family. Just to clarify, marriage horizons also include our individual spiritual progress. A healthy field of vision is my hearing and perceiving what God desires to speak to me personally. This translates into the most important contribution I can make into my marriage.
Consecration & Joy
Reading through the Book of Philippians recently, I realized that not only is “joy” a primary focus, but also the element of “consecration” to Christ. It has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for Him. Phil. 1:29 Even if I am being poured out like a drink offering…I am glad and rejoice with all of you. So you too should be glad and rejoice with me. Phil. 2:17-18
For those who’ve done this dance before, you know these partners move in harmony! Allegiance and loyalty to Christ, especially in times of suffering and hardship, keep our hearts in unison with His. Jesus is the One who endured the cross, while His eyes were fixed on a horizon of joy. Heb. 12:2 But let’s consider the difficulty that ensues when the one-flesh marriage union is fractured, when dissonance is prevailing over harmony. Many have pondered: In retrospect we were so united, seeing the road ahead with amazing commonality. Now, we are struggling to align our marriage horizons.
I have empathy for husbands and wives whose partner has reneged on his or her promises of spiritual fidelity. I thought he (she) was completely committed to Christ; now he (she) has become lukewarm, and the excitement on the marriage horizon is waning. We still agree on some goals for our family but the way in which we were yoked together in our core values has shifted. It’s impossible to know at the beginning of the marriage exactly how your spouse is going to grow and mature (or not) over the decades.
Many husbands and wives have wrestled with the burden of bearing the load for the marriage. With little reciprocation or input from their life partner, the road becomes very lonely. The emotional stress is devastating and brings up the question: How long does God expect me to remain in an unhappy marriage?
Allow me to quote from our book, Longing for Eden:
The principle of “agreement” and its importance was established long ago. “You shall not plow with an ox and a donkey together.” Deut. 22:10 There are some species of animals that are not comfortable with one another. They also don’t pull the same when yoked. Donkeys have a shorter step than the ox; they also have a very offensive odor to their breath. This would cause their “yoke fellow” to turn away, holding their head away from the donkey, making their pull uneven. If you’re unequally yoked with a person or a group you will not be able to plow without distraction.
You may have the challenge of living in the same house and sleeping in the same bed with a partner whose life vision is not always in agreement with yours. It can be a very lonely road, a difficult one to walk but there are precious jewels to be gathered on the journey. Your faithfulness will be rewarded. I believe this is one component of sharing in the “fellowship of His sufferings.” Phil. 3:10
What is God’s Will?
One of the clearest teachings on suffering is presented in Peter’s first epistle. Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 1 Pet. 4:12-14
So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good. 1 Pet. 4:19 Let me state again that I feel empathy for the spouse who has had their field of vision stolen, their hope for new horizons and adventures, dashed to the ground. We are a fragile people and every marriage has unique features with varying degrees on the toxic scale. I recommend this insightful resource from marriage author Gary Thomas: When to Walk Away: Finding Freedom From Toxic People.
Finish Your Assignment
If you’re married and you reflect back upon the planning and preparation for entering covenant with one person for a lifetime, a primary focus on your marriage horizon was undoubtedly one of transformation. To say it another way, you vowed to be a redemptive influence in the life of your lifelong journey-mate. Our greatest example in this regard is our faithful high priest, Jesus Christ.
God made Jesus the author and founder of their salvation perfect through suffering [bringing to maturity the human experience necessary for Him to be perfectly equipped for His office as High Priest]. Heb. 2:10 After forty years of marriage it’s clear to me that suffering and endurance are vital components in being equipped to go the distance in your marriage covenant. No one begins “perfectly equipped” to be a mature husband or wife.
Prodigals Are Worth Waiting For
Living a Christian life is to embrace the narrow path. Mt. 7:13-14 Like God, parents are overseeing the souls of their children, burdened for their spiritual well being. 1 Pet. 2:25 Nothing drives a parent into prayer like a child going off to college or into the marketplace where they will be exposed to various mindsets and pressures.
An adult child who strays from the path of loving God wholeheartedly, will always have a mom or dad on their team. You will always be my son / my daughter. Our family covenant will always remain, no matter what. As in the parable of the prodigal, moms and dads will man their post on the porch, watching and waiting for the returning. Can we do the same for a prodigal spouse? Perhaps they haven’t left home in the literal sense, but they’ve strayed.
Covenant With Conditions
Spouses who bail out of the marriage covenant will likely marry again with a new clause attached. Instead of till death do us part it will be as long as you maintain a certain level of performance. As we follow in the footsteps of the suffering Pioneer of our salvation, be aware of this:
Those who opt out in exchange for what they perceive as a greater happiness, often forfeit the opportunity for a greater maturity.