The reason I hate romantic comedies (or chick flicks) is not because I’m a guy. As an English major in college, I churned through Pride and Prejudice, danced with Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s poems, and even caught a fragrant whiff of Edith Wharton’s prose. But modern romantic comedies quite often do something that drives me crazy.
Yes, I know all movies end, but romcoms end at the beginning. Boy meets girl, girl and guy get interested, girl and guy fight, girl and guy get back together and (maybe) marry—credits. In other words, the story of the relationship is just in the getting together through a trial. Not the staying together. But that’s just where the interesting part begins.
Marriage involves tons of work, something that romcoms have no clue about. In a Christ-focused marriage, God continually transforms two sinners into the image of His Son.
Honestly, that can hurt because we humans don’t like to admit just how messed up we are. Edie Wadsworth, a physician turned stay-at-home mom, explains in a trending blog post:
“The reason marriage is so hard is because you’re more sinful than you think you are.
“You don’t yet grasp the depths of your own depravity. You want your own way. You think your faults are less offensive than his. You justify yourself in a thousand ways and give yourself every benefit of the doubt. But, his faults and sins are magnified to you. You’re convinced that you give more in the relationship. You are always the hero in your mind. Or maybe it’s just me.”
Thankfully, God sees things much better than we do:
“God knew what He was doing when He gave you this particular person. He knew the flaws in your character and personality that this person could sharpen. He knew that this person could expose the sins you try to cover and hide. He knows better than you what you need and the sooner you submit to Christ and His purposes in your life, the sooner you will see what He is up to in your marriage. This relationship is not for your happiness, it is for your redemption. He is not trying to make your comfortable, He is desperate to make you holy.
“He will go to any lengths to transform you because He loves you so much.”
One way that couples can do the real work of transformation in marriage is through dating. Whitney Hopler recently wrote about 10 types of dates that can help:
“Connect faith and love. On this first date, you and your spouse will talk about each of your spiritual journeys up until this point, as well as how you want to continue your journey together as a couple. Enjoy a leisurely dinner together, and over the meal, tell each other the stories of how God has worked in your life individually. Then discuss how you all would like to pursue closer relationships with God together from this point on.
“Appreciate your differences. On this second date, you all will learn how to appreciate the God-given differences between you and learn how to use those differences to complement each other. Talk about some specific God-given gifts that you recognize in each other, and encourage each other to put those gifts to use in practical ways as a team, so your different strengths will work together to accomplish more than either of you could alone.”
What about you? What’s your best advice for having and maintaining a strong, Christ-focused marriage?
John UpChurch is the senior editor of BibleStudyTools.com and Jesus.org. You’ll usually find him downing coffee at his standing desk (like a boss).