I already have discussed how deifying marriage is a major spiritual problem. In this post, we will look at how deifying marriage can have serious affects on your relationship with your current or future spouse.
As I did a little research on marriage and romance to write this post, one of my favorite sayings that I found reflects both the expectations of a true romance and the frustrated disenchantment that came when reality set in.
“My knight in shining armor turned out to be a loser in aluminum foil.”
So many people have experienced this after the honeymoon wore off. Spouses start to reveal their annoying habits, whether that’s chewing with their mouth open or leaving the toilet seat up. A man who looked like a knight in shining armor five years ago now looks like a fat slob wearing aluminum foil. A woman who looked like a dazzling princess five years ago now looks like frazzled mom on the verge of a breakdown. The cold harsh reality that “love doesn’t pay the bills” sets in. Our spouse no longer heals us or fulfills us like we expect they should. When the honeymoon wears off, many relationships go in one of two directions: 1) one or both spouses become frustrated and disenchanted with love and marriage, or 2) one or both spouses look the fulfillment of true love in someone else’s arms.
We expect our spouse to provide us with deep companionship, passionate sex, a fulfilling life, and healing to our wounds. When they are unable to do these things, we grow restless and frustrated. As we try to tell our spouse those desires, something gets lost in translation (from male to female, or female to male), and we end up fighting, distant, and cold.
As usual, the Bible gives profound insights into anthropology. As I argued in part one, we were made to worship, long for, and be healed by God. When we throw off our design by deifying romance, all kinds of things go wrong, including our relationship with our spouse. These frustrations are not easily solved, and they are also symptoms of a much greater problem, our idolatry.
What does idolatry have to do with our relationships?
“James 4:4-5 says, “You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes hims an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, ‘He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us.’?” James draws a connection from arguments in verses 1-3 to cheating on God in verses 4-5. Statements like “you adulterous people” and “he yearns jealously” shows us that God desires our love, our hope, our completion, and our lives to be found in him. If we find that hope or completion anywhere else, he considers it cheating on him, and he is jealous for our souls. The foundation of your marriage has to start with a right relationship with God. Our ‘vertical’ relationship must be right before our ‘horizontal’ relationship is right. As we confess this sin and rest in Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins, our relationship with God is restored, which puts our spouse in their proper place and gives us the power to glorify God in our marriage.
What causes fights in relationships?
James answers the question in verse 1, “Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?” Fights in our marriage are often fights that start in our own soul. We feel the tension between what we expect from our spouse and what we actually get from our spouse. It frustrates our hearts that, even though we hoped love would finally complete and heal us, our “knight in shining armor” or “princess in dazzling dress” is now failing to rescue us.
This battle rages into our hearts until it overflows in our relationship, “You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel.” Some marriages end tragically in literal murder, but most spouses merely slash with their words, shoot harsh glances, and bury their love until their relationship is cold and dead.
“Lookin’ for love in all the wrong places”
“You do not have, because you do not ask.” If it were as simple as saying a prayer for our marriage, most marriages would be saved. Many men and women have begged God for their spouse to change, for their relationship to rekindle, and for their spouse to make them feel wanted again. But James adds, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.”
We turn to God for help, but we are unwilling to examine our expectations. In fact, all we are asking is for God to make our spouse more god-like, so that they will be a better idol. No matter how good your spouse becomes, they can never be God, they can never heal you, they can never complete you, and they can never love you absolutely. God will not help you continue to make romance and ‘true love’ the hope of your life.
Love and romance are good things. Spouses should try to improve their lives in love for the other person. However, at the same time, we must recognize that our spouses are not infinite, all-powerful, or all-loving. If we expect a god-or-goddess-like spouse, we will always be disappointed, always be frustrated, and always be fighting with our spouse due to unrealized expectations.
Here’s some homework:
- What ways have you expected way too much out of love and romance?
- Which of your desires has been the cause for recent fights in your marriage?
- Consider confessing this sin to God and your spouse.