“As a single man, I was cool, calm, and collected. Then I got married.”

The opening of Tyler Ward’s latest post, 4 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Fought With My Wife, is one many couples can probably relate to. For Christians, marriage has always been an important and celebrated part of life. It’s a right-of-passage into adulthood, a vow couples swear to honor and cherish one another until death parts them. Unfortunately, we rarely stop to think about what happens after the wedding bells have been rung. Couples don’t just ride off into the sunset to live happily ever after, they need to learn how to live together first.

As Tyler Ward implied, this will inevitably lead to arguments. However, Ward believes that a spouse can actually be a mirror of our own brokenness. He writes,    

“If the mirror phenomenon is in fact true, our spouse’s issues are not our responsibility to fix. Once we resist critiquing and make the correlation between their actions and the things that need to change in us, our business is simply to own the issue and work on fixing ourselves (and ask God to work in us). In essence, we’re taking 100 percent responsibility of the relationship.”     

Ward continues by arguing that the more we change ourselves, the more our reflection (aka: our spouse) changes as well. He’s not alone in his statements either. Other Christian writers have subscribed to similar philosophies when it comes to marriage. Crosswalk contributor, Heidi St. John, recently wrote that the myth of a “parallel marriage” can be damaging to a couple’s relationship. When two people try to live in the same world without ever crossing lines, she argues, their marriage ends up weaker, not stronger.         

“So what can we do?

Purpose to live the opposite kind of life with your husband. Live entwined lives instead of parallel lives. Draw those lines in toward each other through shared dreams and purposeful interaction. Spend time alone together. Nurture emotional and sexual intimacy in your marriage. Pursue the Lord together.

Your marriage should look like that cord of three strands that Solomon talks about in Ecclesiastes 4:12: ‘...A threefold cord is not quickly broken.’ Unlike parallel lines, this ‘cord’ of three strands winds itself tightly together: a husband, a wife, and the Lord Jesus.

Entwined marriages are built to last.”

Marriage, like all good things, takes work. It will come with its share of challenges and heavy moments. But God promises us that when we stop living for ourselves, when we honor and love our spouses the way Christ honored and loved the church, we’ll discover a relationship that is more precious than we could have ever hoped for. It’s a love that’s worth fighting for.       

What about you? Do you have any advice for married couples?

*Ryan Duncan is the Culture Editor for Crosswalk.com

**Posted 6/25/2014