Destined or Doomed: The Heart of the Marriage Matter
They say that opposites attract – and that’s certainly been true for me.
If our Myers-Briggs types were geographical locations, my ENFP self would be partying with the elves at the North Pole, while my ISTJ husband would be quietly reading amongst the penguins at the South.
He’s the toast to my jelly. The brake petal to my accelerator. The Milli to my Vanilli. I need him, and he needs me.
But here’s what “they” don’t always say.
Opposites drive each other nuts. Opposites don’t see eye-to-eye. Opposites argue. And the relationships of opposites are almost certainly doomed to fail.
That is, of course, unless those opposites are guided by transformed hearts.
Home is Where the Heart Leads
At Lead Like Jesus, we believe that leadership always begins with the heart.
When a leader’s heart is full of pride or fear, he or she is destined to experience:
- Separation from God and others,
- Comparison with others, feeling “more than” or “less than” everyone around them, and
- Distortion of the truth, leading to a false sense of security or fear.
Conversely, when a leader’s heart is transformed by Jesus, his heart is filled with love, humility and God-grounded confidence. He or she experiences:
- Community, drawing near to God and others,
- Contentment, being satisfied in all circumstances, and
- Truth, which sets us free.
No where is this reality more evident than in how we lead within our homes.
As husbands and wives, we have tremendous influence in the lives of our spouses. Depending on the state of our hearts, we can:
- Allow fear or pride to drive our marriages into the ground, OR
- We can fight to save what really matters with an arsenal of love, humility and God-grounded confidence.
Tell-Tale Signs: Fear and Pride
Fear and pride are sometimes tricky to spot – until it’s much too late. Fortunately, the words filling our minds and pouring out of our mouths make for pretty good alarm bells.
“For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” (Luke 6:45b, NIV)
Have you thought or spoken these phrases recently?
- “Why do I always have to be the one to…?”
- “How come you never listen to me?”
- “Why do you always have to embarrass me?”
- “That’s none of your business.”
- “That’s not my job.”
- “You let me down.”
- “I don’t want to hear it.”
- “Never mind, I’ll just do it myself.”
- “Why can’t you be more ….?”
If you’re saying words that are self-promoting, braggadocios, comparative, demeaning or demanding all the attention or credit, chances are, pride is taking hold of your marriage.
If you think or utter phrases that protect yourself, withhold information, hoard control, intimidate your spouse, or discourage honest feedback, fear is likely getting in the way.
Happy or Holy
Recently, I went to a women’s event at our church, during which a godly woman I greatly admire shared her testimony. In her vulnerability, she shared about some of the darkness that had plagued her past, and the way she had allowed fear and pride to creep into her marriage.
She shared how just five years ago, her husband of 36 years – a humble and godly man I also admire – admitted to her, “I’m tired of you.”
In her brokenness, this woman realized that she had spent nearly four decades with him, regurgitating all of the pain that had consumed her since childhood. Rather than love, her words and actions toward him repeatedly communicated fear and pride, as she put him down to elevate herself.
As part of her healing process, this woman sought out a spiritual mentor. Together, they’ve been studying God’s Word and books on marriage, including Gary Thomas’ Sacred Marriage.
She read to us a line from that book, which had significantly impacted her thinking. “What if God designed marriage to make us holy instead of happy?”
“I think there’s a lot of truth to that,” she said, sharing how she is now striving to be more like Jesus in her life and marriage every day.
And interestingly enough, her holiness pursuit has also led to happiness.
“We’re celebrating 41 years this year,” she told us with a smile.
What Difference Would It Make?
Is my concern to be happy? Or do I want to be holy?
These are the questions that have been bouncing around in my mind in the week since that event. (For the record, my dear, sweet ISTJ husband DOES make me happy on more days than he does not.)
What difference would it make if I saw every interaction my husband as an opportunity to lead like Jesus?
- What if rather than focusing my attention on what I can get out of this relationship, I focused on what I could give?
- What if I sought to serve rather than to be served?
- What if I embraced my wifely role as an opportunity to influence him toward achieving his potential as the incredible man God designed him to be?
- What if I kicked fear and pride to the curb, replacing them with love, humility and God-grounded confidence instead?
As I become more like Jesus, I will become a better wife and a better version of myself. I find purpose. I find meaning. The path toward holiness leads beyond happiness to true joy.
Funny thing is, when I venture away from my polar zone, my husband’s usually moved to do the same. We find joy in the middle… a much warmer and happier place to be.
Pause and Reflect
- Think about the encounters you’ve had with your spouse in the last 48 hours. What do your words reveal about the state of your heart?
- How can you use your influence to help your spouse achieve their God-given potential?
- What’s most important to you? Are you consumed with being happy or becoming holy?
By Heather Day