Thursday, 12 December 2013 09:47

Love Your Spouse More

Written by  Rev. Sam Chan
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Love Your Spouse More

“Do not be yoked together with unbelievers…?” (2 Co 6:14)

“…, but he must belong to the Lord. ” (1 Co 7:39)

God commands us to marry those who belong to Christ because He loves us so much that He wants to spare us from the emotional pain of spiritual mismatch in marriage. Due to the difference in our values or other incompatibilities, the marriage of Christians and non-Christians often result in tensions and conflicts. Nowadays, many believers marry non-believers because they are so much in love with their mates. For this or maybe other reasons, even though they know they’re marrying non-believers, they still decide to go ahead and tie their marital knots. In other cases, some couples have both been non-believers, but later one spouse accepts Christ whereas the other spouse refuses to follow suit.

The spiritual mismatch in marriage is not to be taken lightly. It cannot be simply taken as, “This is a choice of religion. You have your own belief whereas I have mine!” Believing in Christ should lead to establishing a close relationship with Him. It means that we will endeavour to fully live out the life of Christ in our daily lives. We also allow God to transform our lives, so that we can enjoy peace and joy in Him. However, the non-believer often rejects these changes. He/She becomes angry and resentful for he/she thinks Jesus Christ has replaced him/her as the spouse’s first love. In his/her eyes, Jesus becomes a rival and the church becomes His accomplice! As a result, frustrations over increasingly different values and life styles further draw them apart.

The way to use money, leisure, the guiding principles for life and the ways of raising children can be sources of constant arguments and often these incompatibilities cause a lot of turmoil at home. Instead of teaching the children the grace and love of God and moulding them to be loving, humble and forgiving, the non-believer parent rather teaches the children to be self-reliant, sceptical and independent in this cruel and unforgiving world.

Friendship can be another source for ongoing conflicts. Topics of conversation and interests of mutual friends hardly share the same common grounds. Mutual friends of the couple may be mature or immature, but the non-believer spouse often becomes critical of their Christian friends for their ‘hypocrisy and pretence’. These accusations and criticisms often result in misery and anguish for the Christian spouse.  What can we do under such circumstances?

“I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” (Php 4:13)

The spouse who is a believer must love his/her spouse MORE for God loves spiritually lost souls, much more than our love for our spouses.  Despite our differences, we can learn to build on common grounds and strengthen our marriages. Let’s take a look at the following ten helpful insights for our marriages:

1. Instead of focusing on our struggles, focus on our Saviour

Each day we must cultivate a close, authentic and dependent relationship with God. This relationship will give us strength and new perspectives for whatever situations we are in. Oswald Chamber once said, “When you fear God, you fear nothing else, whereas if you do not fear God, you fear everything else.”

2. Make our spouse the number one person in our lives

True love is unconditional. Whether your spouse is a believer or not should not affect your love for him/her. He/She is your lover, not your ‘prey’ for evangelism. How can we show our love to our spouses? We can double our efforts to be attentive, caring and thoughtful. Moreover, we have to avoid comparing our spouses with other Christian husbands or wives. We may envision the beauty and harmony of Christian marriages, but we should never compare our mates.

3. Harness the support of mature Christians to support & encourage you

They are not only your role models, but they will also give you guidance and encouragement. You have to allow them to speak the truth for they will not just speak about things that you like to hear.

4. As far as possible, live out godly principals in your marriage

Instead of gossips or criticisms, speak the truth in love and kindness at home. Live out your faith the best you can by being a servant, a forgiver, a worshipper and a person of humility, integrity, compassion and self-control. Your marriage will be blessed through your godly behaviours.

5. Instead of pursuing happiness, allow yourself to relax in God’s peace and joy

Whether we are happy or not depend on circumstances, but joy and peace in our hearts depend on Jesus Christ’s presence in our lives. TRUE joy is a by-product of knowing our Lord, of experiencing Him daily, of being confident in His provision for us, an of being assured of eternal life. Joy is a choice and an attitude that comes from our confidence in God. If you have a joyful disposition, you will have positive impact on your spouse.

6. Instead of giving what your spouse deserves, give him/her what God gave you

Often our spouses can give us a hard time and we find it difficult to forgive. We are tempted to fight to the very end. However, marital disputes are like tugs of war. Conflict is like a knot at the centre of the rope. If both spouses continue to pull hard on their end, the loose knot will become tighter and tighter.  At some point, no one can untie it. Forgiveness means that one side gives up pulling, loosens the tension and puts an end to the argument. You can treat your spouse the way God has treated you – being forgiving and merciful. Not that your spouse deserves this kind of treatment, but you deliberately follow Christ’s example and choose to forgive.

7. Learn to disagree without being disagreeable

When you discuss about unethical or illegal issues, never use accusatory tone that demeans your spouse. Try talking about your feelings instead. Tell your spouse how his/her action makes you feel. Avoid strong opposition or accusation and adopt the ‘stop & listen’ approach. Listen with empathy, reflect and look for common grounds.

8. Teach your children Christian values, but don’t turn them against your spouse

Avoid criticizing your spouse in your children’s presence for this will turn them against the other parent. You may set the following rules at home: a) All questions are permissible, but there are no immediate answers. The whole family can openly and honestly discuss the issue. b) All feelings are legitimate. Everyone can speak his/her mind without fear of despise and condemnation).

9. Always reflect and regularly ask the important question:

“How would I like to be married to ME?”

When you ponder on the answer to this question, you will be amazed and wake up to reality!

10. God has His sovereign plan and timing, pray in faith and be patient and gentle when you lead your spouse to Christ

Do you know why your spouse refuses to accept Christ?

a. Does your spouse speak sarcastically or ironically about your faith? Try to empathize and listen attentively to his/her questions. What makes your spouse angry and resentful? He/She could be hurt by the behaviour of some immature Christians!

b. Is your spouse sceptical about your faith? You can encourage your spouse to write down questions and objections. You can then pinpoint the roadblocks between him/her and God.

c. Is your spouse indifferent to God? You can get him/her to think about matters of ultimate importance. Our belief in Christ is not just about going to heaven, but for the peace and joy that come with our life transformation in Him.

d. Is your spouse seeking God? You may encourage him/her and bring him/her to Sunday worship services, evangelistic meetings or Sunday school class for seekers.

Whether your spouse believe in God or not, we encourage you to love your spouse MORE, respect him, serve him and treat him as your most beloved. God loves a loving heart and He will answer your prayers.

Rev. Dr. Sam Chan, Senior Pastor of Richmond Hill Christian Community Church


Reference: Lee & Leslie Strobel, Surviving A Spiritual Mismatch in Marriage (Zondervan, Grand Rapids, 2002)

Last modified on Tuesday, 14 April 2020 11:29
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