At the gym last week a few guys mentioned to Jeremy that they hadn't realized that we were married and thought that we were just dating. We took this as a compliment because they made their assumptions by observing the way that we flirt at the gym (with each other of course!), the way that we clearly enjoy spending time together and each other's company, the looks that we give each other, they took all of those to mean that we had to be dating, in that "first love/ infatuation phase" because married couples just don't do that stuff. Granted two of the guys are recently divorced and probably have a dismal view of what a marriage is, but I think this reflects an increasing stigma in America about marriage. How often in conversation or media are jokes made about "the ball and chain", about lack of sex after two people are married, how often do TV shows and movies depict couples that seem to be purely enduring each other's presence rather than relishing in it, serving each other, and joyfully putting the other's needs before their own? There is nothing special about Jeremy's and my marriage other than that we are compelled by the Holy Spirit and committed to honoring, and being centered on Jesus. We don't have all the answers or have a conflict free marriage, but we invite Jesus into our home, hearts and lives and seek to stay fixed on Him. We have only been married about 2 years, but I pray that this type of flirtation will carry on throughout our entire marriage. Flirtation is refreshing to a marriage; hand holding, back rubs, winks, pats on the butt, sharing inside jokes that are just between the two of you. All of these things breathe life into a marriage, and help to keep two people united. In Scripture Jesus reminds the believers of their first love stage with Him, the things they did during that time, and He encourages them to do these same things always.
Revelation 2:4-5 “But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first! Look how far you have fallen! Turn back to me and do the works you did at first. If you don’t repent, I will come and remove your lampstand from its place among the churches.
This easily applies to marriage... in the beginning of dating each person puts in much thought and effort into their looks to impress the other, they do sweet things for each other like leave notes, give flowers, they are touchy feely, frequently encourage and compliment one another, and think about each other endlessly when apart. Now I'm not saying that every couple should flirt in the same way, or do the same things as Jeremy and I, God created us all different and what is a display of affection for one couple may be different for another, some people don't have physical touch needs, but have other needs. Jeremy and I are also two very affectionate people, whose biggest love needs are spend time with and touch, so those are how we both need love and give love to each other. The point of all of this is to think about your dating, courting or newlywed period and remember all of the special things that you did for your sweetheart. To purposefully do those same things 5, 10, and 50 years into marriage, to make intentional acts of kindness to each other, to be purposeful about feeding the fire of friendship, passion, and closeness within a relationship. To (as I often say) blossom and not just endure in marriage.
Don't followers of Jesus have a duty to exhibit Christ in their marriage? Aren't we to reflect Christ's love, patience, gentleness, and humility through our union, so that His character may be known and observed?
Ephesians 5:22-32 For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word. He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault. In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man who loves his wife actually shows love for himself. No one hates his own body but feeds and cares for it, just as Christ cares for the church. And we are members of his body. As the Scriptures say, “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.” This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one. So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
I challenge you to ask yourself, what is my marriage saying to the world about Jesus? How can I better reflect Christ's love to my spouse, and through that to others?
These questions aren't easy, we all fall significantly short of displaying a Christ-like character, but we have a God who takes people like us, cleans them up, and is continually making us more like Himself. And that is something worthy of rejoicing!