My friend Justin highlights some golden, gospel-words about marriage (although they could be applied to every relationship) from Paul Tripp's forthcoming book, What Did You Expect? Redeeming the Realities of Marriage:
[God's] grace purposes to expose and free you from your bondage to you. His grace is meant to bring you to the end of yourself so that you willing finally begin to place your identity, your meaning and purpose, and your inner sense of well-being in him.
So he places you in a comprehensive relationship with another flawed person, and he places that relationship right in the middle of a very broken world.
To add to this, he designs circumstances for you that you would have never designed for yourself.
All this is meant to bring you to the end of yourself, because that is where true righteousness begins.
He wants you to give up.
He wants you to abandon your dream.
He wants you to face the futility of trying to manipulate the other person into your service.
He knows there is no life to be found in these things.
What does this practically mean?
It means the trouble that you face in your marriage is not an evidence of the failure of grace.
No, these troubles are grace.
They are tools God uses to pry us out of the stultifying confines of the kingdom of self so that we can be free to luxuriate in the big-sky glories of the kingdom of God.
This means that you and I will never understand our marriages and never be satisfied with them until we understand that marriage is not an end to itself.
No, the reality is that marriage has been designed by God to be a means to an end.
When you make it the end, bad things happen.
But when you begin to understand that it is a means to an end, then you begin to enjoy and see the value in things that you would not have been able to enjoy before.