Making the Right Change in Marriage

   

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son…”

Romans 8:28-29   

In addition to attempt to unlock the secrets of the universe, the brilliant scientist Albert Einstein also applied his genius to making keen observations about the mysterious union known as marriage. Although E=mc2 is the formula for which Einstein is most often remembered, he is also noted for verbalizing another, “Men marry women with the hope they will never change. Women marry men with the hope they will change. Invariably they are both disappointed.”    

Einstein’s analysis could rightly be referred to as the ideal formula for marital disappointment. To enter marriage with faulty expectations for how your spouse will or will not change is to haphazardly balance your hopes on the edge of a precipice from which they will soon be dashed. How much better prepared young men and women would be if they exchanged their vows while fully mindful of the fact that from that moment on, neither one of them would ever be the same again. In order to have a God-honoring marriage, both husband and wife must be committed to changing slowly, yet deliberately, each and every day of their life together.   

In his book What Did You Expect?, Paul Tripp helps couples learn to develop appropriate biblical expectations for change within marriage: 

Every marriage between the fall and eternity is in the middle of a lifelong process of change. Your marriage may be better than it once was, but it is not yet all that it could be. In marriage you are meant to grow together in an increasingly maturing love and to grow personally in your love and service of the Lord.    

You see, patience in marriage is vital, because the goal of marriage is greater than marriage. The goal of marriage, from God’s perspective, is not that you would reach some mutually agreed-upon plateau of romantic and interpersonal happiness. No, God’s goals are much wider and more beautiful than that. God’s goal is that your marriage would be a major tool in his wise and loving hands to rescue you from claustrophobic self-worship and form you into a person who lives for nothing smaller than his kingdom, his righteousness, and his glory. God’s goal is to transform you at the causal core of your personhood–your heart. He is working so that everything you think, desire, say, and do is done in loyal and joyful service to him. God’s goal is not to deliver to you your well-thought-through dream of personal happiness. No, his goal is nothing less than holiness; or as Peter says, that you may become “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4).    

(What Did You Expect?, p.244; emphasis added) 

Tripp explains the importance of focusing your attention on your own need for change within marriage instead of your spouse’s:

   

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Photo: Penny Mathews   

Video: Crossway

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