I remember when my husband and I announced our engagement. Once people got over the shock that either of us was in a relationship period, the advice flooded in. Most of which, if I’m honest with you, has not been relevant to our situation in any degree. Though I wouldn’t say I was necessarily desirous of all the offered advice, looking back I feel even less enthused at the quantity of low quality thoughts provided. It’s not that these kind people meant to harm or give less than satisfactory wisdom, but I think their approach to such came from the wrong point of view. Yes, I know that every couple’s journey to the altar brings different struggles, but I think that pointing out the negative without a way to combat it is doing more harm than good.
One of the biggest
pieces of advice warnings that people gave us was that the first year of marriage was going to be hard. Left and right, people kept pounding this idea into our heads with little to no explanation to why and how to rise above it. It felt like there was a taboo innocently thrown at us by the Devil via the mouth of family, friends, and even complete strangers. The more we heard that unedifying little comment, the more easy it was to take it on as a fact about our coming union.
I’m not intending to push aside the reality that for many, the first year(s) of marriage is/are really hard. Truth is, marriage takes work and we can offer couples a singular piece of advice that will not only arm them to fight back when things become difficult, but will also help lay the foundation early for a long marriage: Get over yourself.
In the same way, the Son of Man did not come to be served. He came to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many people. (Matthew 20:28)
We’ll start right off with a hard hitter because there is no better example than that of our Master, King Jesus. We are reminded in Ephesians that marriage is a beautiful picture of Christ and the church. In a functional, healthy relationship, it’s a tangible way for us to get a glimpse of what God intends for us as his bride and beloved people. When Christ Jesus came down to Earth, he undoubtedly knew that his short duration here would be the least bit easy. Left and right, he not only denied himself what we would identify as basic human needs – food and water during times of fasting – but he also denied himself the opportunity for personal pleasures – dreams, goals, romance, money, power, success, hobbies, sex… He understood the value of giving of himself here because, as Paul puts it, the sufferings we have now are nothing compared to the great glory that will be shown to us. Romans 8:18
What we seem to forget when we talk about marriage and ‘advise’ young couples is to remind them of this glorious truth. Our own Lord and Savior showed us a beautiful glimpse of what is to come in Heaven and displayed for us a model for, not only living, but marriage and the preparation for such. His sacrifices for his disciples and even the outcasts should compel us, especially within marriage, to not only desire to “get over ourselves”, but to make it the focal point of our lives with the intent that Christ would be glorified within us. Let’s look at what Jesus laid out:
- Christ compelled his followers to deeper awareness and nearness to the Father, not simply through his words, but also his actions.
- Christ served his followers, reminding them of life’s ultimate purpose: to serve, not to be served.
- Christ did life with his followers, eating, drinking, mourning, journeying laughing, and growing with them.
- Christ lead his followers. Carefully guided them, gently reprimanded them, and intentionally trained them.
- Christ respected his followers. He didn’t walk all over them and he wasn’t a doormat to them, either.
- Christ sacrificed for them. He didn’t expect them to wait on him hand and food and ultimately gave the ultimate price for their salvation.
We could spend hours studying the powerful example of life, faith, and marriage that Christ left for us, but the fact of the matter is that in a single verse we are able to glean incredible truths to what our marriages are supposed to look like. Love in it’s honest-to-goodness, intended form serves.
It is patient and kind. It’s not jealous, it does not brag, and it is not proud. Love is not rude, is not selfish, and does not get upset with others. Love does not count up wrongs that have been done. Love takes no pleasure in evil but rejoices over the truth. Love patiently accepts all things. It always trusts, always hopes, and always endures. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
When we “advise” couples that marriage is hard, we aren’t giving the fuel to fight the battle with. We are simply handing them a fallback that can easily be used as reason not to sacrifice or rise above the situation. If we told couples to get over themselves, to take Matthew 20:28 into marriage as ammunition against the enemy, we would be giving them advice that they could stand upon.
I rally you now and ask you to take this seriously. Take this truth on in your own life, talk about it with your friends, and share it with young people (engaged, married, or waiting). Don’t tell them marriage will be hard. Don’t give them an opportunity to cop out of the fight. Give them something to fight with Give them this: Get over yourself.