Gary Thomas is a deeply talented writer – and, every now and then, he says something profound that makes my hair blow backwards. There are far too many of these quotes in Sacred Marriage. So, for the sake of time (and length of this post), I’ll share three quotes which profoundly impacted me.
Love and Repentance
If you are married for more than five minutes, you will probably experience a sensation that feels like “falling out of love” with your spouse. Those feelings that cover us from head to toe when we are young and in love do change after marriage.
I remember my mom telling me that my love for Eric would change and deepen. She was right. My heart doesn’t beat out of my chest every time he enters a room, but I love, trust, and know him better now than I did in those exciting, early days (and I wouldn’t trade what we have now to return to what we had then). But, there have been times of testing in our relationship when those “in love feelings” were nowhere to be found. The first time you experience it such a feeling can be terrifying, but the fear lessens once you get used to the ebbs and flows of married life.
What hit me like a 2”x4” was when Thomas said: “Couples don’t fall out of love so much as they fall out of repentance.” Wow! Double wow! He read my mail and hit me in the head with that one. I think about those times when I wanted to blame Eric because my feelings of love were waning (e.g., he doesn’t spend enough time with me, etc.), and now I am confronted with the knowledge that my feelings of love were waning because of my lack of repentance.
So, I started pondering this quote and I can honestly say that I can never remember a time when I was fully enraptured in and connected to God and simultaneously angry and indifferent towards Eric. When my heart is right with God, my love for Eric is present and obvious. When I’m holding back my heart or hiding sin, my relationship with Eric suffers and I lose those lovin’ feelings.
Marriage and Struggle
Hollywood is good at showcasing the passion and sexuality of relationships, but poor at depicting the hardships of relationships. Most romantic comedies start with a man and woman who fall in love, have sex, get in a fight, realize there was a misunderstanding, and then live happily ever after (married or unmarried). We are left with this sigh of relief that the struggle is over and love has finally won. Then we go back into the real world of relationships and see heartache and difficulty everywhere.
Thomas wrote that a good marriage “takes struggle. You must crucify your selfishness. You must at times confront, and at other times confess.” It’s comforting to know that the struggles we face in our marriages help us have good marriages. Without struggle, we don’t grow. Life might be easy, but we would eventually find ourselves in a boring rut if we never wrestled in our marriage.
Just as struggling through a workout makes our physical bodies stronger, struggling through growing pains together makes our marriages stronger. Good marriages require us to come to terms with, and squelch, our selfishness. Good marriages require us to embrace conflict and confront uncomfortable topics and situations together. And last, but not least, good marriages require us to humble ourselves and confess our sins. All these factors create opportunities for our marriages to grow.
Love and Christianity
How many women have loved and devoted themselves to a husband only to hear him say, “I’m leaving you. I’ve never really loved you.” Even though both partners contribute to the health and sickness of their relationship, it seems unnecessarily hurtful and vindictive to cut a woman at the core by essentially saying, “You’ve never been lovable,” and “You’re not worthy of love.”
But Thomas comes to the heart of the matter again by making the following observation: “A man who says ‘I’ve never loved you’ is a man who is saying essentially this: ‘I’ve never acted like a Christian.’”
Like the old DC Talk song says, love is a verb. It’s something we do. It’s the foundation, walls, and ceiling of the Christian life. In fact, I Corinthians 13 tells us we are nothing without love.
So, when a man says he has never loved his wife, he is admitting his own failure as a husband even if he thinks he’s sticking it to his wife. When a woman says that she’s never respected her husband, she is admitting her failure as a wife even if her intention is to deflate and degrade her husband’s competence.
Because the Bible tells men to love their wives, it behooves men to push through the struggle and love their wives… actively. In the same way, women should actively respect their husbands simply because their Heavenly Father has commanded it. Looking at it from this perspective is convicting because I am certain there have been days when I’ve thought, “But I just can’t respect him!” What I didn’t realize at the time was that I was admitting my own failings… not highlighting his shortcomings. Deep stuff!
Meat and Potatoes
Some books are light and airy; whereas, others push us to the edge of our seats. Some books are practical with useful step-by-step directives. And some books, like this one, are deep and meaty. Sacred Marriage does not simply tell us how to be married. Thomas’ writing compels us to take mental paths we would not have otherwise taken and to consider perspectives we would not have otherwise considered. He causes his readers to think about topics in a new light. After reading Sacred Marriage, I believe you will feel like you’ve enjoyed a fulfilling, tasty, literary steak dinner.
The quotes above are mere drops in the bucket of all this author shares in Sacred Marriage and in the other books in his Sacred series (e.g., Sacred Parenting, Sacred Influence, Sacred Pathways, etc.). He will challenge you and your future marriage will flourish if you apply his teaching to your relationship! ~smile~
What are your thoughts on the quotes about marriage above?