Can My Marriage Become too Important? Part II
By Janel Breitenstein
Occasionally my work requires international travel, like a trip I took of late. One particular airline seemed to have everything about 7/8ths of the size of normal airlines.
I ate with my elbows tucked in like a jack-in-the-box. Attempting to sleep, I tried not to breathe into a stranger’s mouth. I’m not tall, but my knees hovered above my belly button as I entertained mental images of livestock in cattle cars.
I tell you this because when marriage becomes too great of a priority, I believe our spouses (or we) can feel personhood a little … cramped.
Maybe it happens when we:
- view a spouse as the all-purpose puzzle piece, the Swiss Army knife with a tool for every issue, or worse, the scapegoat to blame for every issue.
- allow a spouse to over-help or overfunction for us, like a wildly comprehensive personal assistant/counselor/maid/accountant/au pair/etc.
- lack the friendships that have carried the bulk of emotional needs for centuries. Instead of having friends to absorb our words or need for guidance, our spouse carries those almost exclusively.
- attempt to transform a spouse into our own image—the perfect mate, who dresses, talks, performs tasks, and parents just like we want them to. (Truthfully, that’s easier than unleashing and encouraging them to be the fullest version of the image of God in them.)
- entrust our identity to a spouse—a sense of well-being, worth, attractiveness, and need for appreciation. If the spouse doesn’t deliver what God alone is meant to deliver, we are crushed, needy, grasping.
Yikes. What if I did these—and my husband felt like our marriage was a never-ending transatlantic flight in cattle-car class? (Would he forever be eating with T. rex arms, knees crushed to his diaphragm?)
Henry Ward Beecher observed, “Well married, a person has wings; poorly married, shackles.” I’d much rather help my husband fly.
The goal of my marriage is not for it to act as an immaculately decorated haven for my personal comfort and honor. The goal is God’s glory, His exaltation.
Read how “Marriage is Not Our Ultimate Destination.”
The Good Stuff: To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. (1 Corinthians 12:7)
Action points: How do I specifically witness God’s image in the way my spouse differs from me? How do my spouse’s differences or personhood change me for the better? Which of my demands of my spouse could inhibit not only my spouse’s growth in God’s image, but mine?
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