Marriage is not easy. Even though I married an amazing woman and my wife married a sometimes pretty cool guy, marriage brings along difficult seasons. Selfishness, busyness, schedules, kids and other factors all creep in and make something beautiful very challenging at times. The one promise about marriage in the Bible is in 1 Corinthians 7:28. The apostle Paul writes,
“But if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. But those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this” (emphasis mine).
A few years into serving in the marriage ministry at our church, I noticed that I spent an overabundance of time discussing and sharing with others the challenges of marriage. As I led singles/premarried couples, I focused on the false promises of the soul mate and how your problems don’t go away when you get married. When I was with fellow married couples, we all discussed the challenges of married life and the world as new parents.
As I reflected upon my marriage sentiments and the similar sentiments of others, I recognized why so many singles don’t really want to get married. They see divorce all around them, they see the unhappy married couples, and they believe moving in together instead of getting married might spare them some of the pain they have seen in so many married couples.
I realized at this time I was part of the problem and not a part of the solution.
It was time to change the way I talked about and asked others about marriage. This doesn’t mean I would lie and sugarcoat the challenges, but it does mean I needed to start focusing more on the GREAT parts of married life.
Just about every time I meet with a married couple at our church, I ask them to identify their favorite part of marriage. We get a good variety of answers to this question. Sometimes people will say trust, other times grace. Sometimes the answer is sex or “the lovemaking” (thank you for that one, Thiago). But, the number one answer on the board, and there is no close second, is COMPANIONSHIP.
The bible does not speak much about “friendship in marriage”, but I believe this crucial aspect of marriage is so obvious it’s not often addressed in the scriptures. The writer of the Proverbs says, “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the LORD” (Proverbs 18:22). This is the clear antidote to Genesis 2:18, where it says it is not good for the man to be alone.
I love that Kristen is my companion in college football. In watching TV shows. In raising our boys. When leading and serving together. In sexual intimacy. In spiritual intimacy (and much more). While those who have married will find trouble in this life (see above), I also fully believe that I have found a good thing and have obtained favor from the Lord. I get to rejoice in the wife of my youth and become intoxicated in her love (Proverbs 5:18-19).
So what are you doing to build the companionship in your marriage?
Here are a few (brief) suggestions:
- Do the things you did in the beginning. (Revelation 2:4-5) What are the activities you did and conversations you had when you first met? Talk to one another! Do the fun activities you used to do when you first met.
- Go out on dates together. This doesn’t mean it has to be anything extravagant, but what can you do to enjoy some fun dates?
- Do something active or find a hobby. Go for a walk around the block, play tennis, or take up a hobby together. Play some games. We just started playing Ticket To Ride. #Loveit
- Have great sex. Often. Make the 0.625% look like something lame couples do. Make yours 1.625%!
- Read the bible together and pray together. Often spiritual intimacy can be the best way to build your friendship/companionship.
- If you’re struggling, get some help. Invite others in to help you re|engage with your spouse and with your marriage.
- Read about some of the most common obstacles to companionship and attack them!
Marriage is not easy, but take the time to date your spouse, to have fun, to find a hobby. Specifically, I believe Justin Buzzard’s book Date Your Wife and Ted Cunningham’s Fun Loving You have both been extremely helpful to me in learning how to better pursue friendship and companionship with Kristen.
If your marriage is a picture of God’s love for His church (Ephesians 5:31-32), and if others look at this picture, would they want to get hitched and be like you, or would they rather run from marriage as quickly as possible? My hope is that they see your friendship and companionship and want to follow you as you follow Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1).
- When you talk to others about your marriage, do you tend to focus on the positives or negatives? Why?
- What can you do, today, to build your companionship?
- If married life is really hard right now, invite some others in to help you grow. Check out re|engage.