We've only been married about four months, and we've attended our first marriage conference. And it was awesome. It was the first one our church, Lakeside Community Chapel, has put on. It was taught by elders, and lots of church couples came, and even some singles and engaged couples, which was great to see. It's never too soon to start getting a right perspective on marriage and good advice!
The theme was "The Gospel-Centered Marriage." With a theme like that, you know it's going to be intense. And it was. It wasn't your run-of-the-mill marriage conference that just tells husbands to give their wives love and wives to give their husbands respect, and leave it at that. This was saturated in Scripture, and the overarching theme I heard in each session was this: you can't control what your spouse says or does. You can't change them. All you can control is your words and actions and make sure they are obedient to Scripture and pleasing to the Lord. That is what is required.
If marriage is supposed to reflect the beautiful, unconditional love of Christ for the Church, then we must not make our love for our spouses conditional. "I would submit to him if he would just lead me in a godly way!" or "I would do what he asks if he would just tell me he loves me now and then!" Nope. That's just not how it's supposed to be. Ideally, if you're in a godly marriage with a spouse who claims to know the Lord, then the Holy Spirit will be working on them and changing them. But newsflash: you married a sinner, and so did your spouse. So when (not if) your spouse is sinning, it is not up to you to change them or deprive them of a godly spouse until they repent. You are to still do what is required of you, even if your spouse isn't doing what's required of them. Not fair, you say? You're right. But neither is salvation. And I'm really glad for that.
It's easy to submit to our husbands when they are making wise decisions and considering our feelings and loving us how we want to be loved. But when they make a selfish decision or make a rude comment or hurt our feelings, we are still required to submit. Because ultimately, we are accountable to God for how we respond to our husbands, and if I trust God with my soul, then I trust him to work in my husband and make things right.
It always boils down to trust, doesn't it?
I don't want to sound preachy; I'm learning this too. Not that Hband is not a good leader or anything like that, but we each have our weaknesses, and when his show up, it makes it harder to be the kind of wife I'm supposed to be (and I know that works both ways-- when my weaknesses rear their ugly heads, I know it can't be easy for Hband). So this was a great reminder of what marriage is supposed to be.
Imagine if the unbelieving world could see a marriage in which the husband and wife love unconditionally and show each other respect and servanthood, all the days of their lives... what a testimony to the Lord and what His love is like (only his is amplified a millionfold). I want that kind of testimony in my marriage.