Here we are at four years married, reflecting again on what the year has taught us. There are so many things to be thankful for, so much that God has shown us both individually and as we share life together in Him. About marriage specifically? The words that came to mind were “dependent independence”.
I remember how I, being newly-wed, once exhausted my poor hubby with numerous catch ups and engagements (I’m naturally an extrovert, but my husband is an introvert). I was excited to do everything together, to share every moment with one another being physically present. Turns out this is not practically feasible and since then, God has grown us in our understanding of what it actually looks like to live our lives as one in marriage, and yet also as the unique son and daughter He created us to be.
My husband describes it in a slightly different way. It is like we are more united in our sense of where God is calling us, and more confident to support one another in the gifts and opportunities He gives us.
. . .
Being one in marriage does not necessarily mean doing the same ministry in church, or receiving the same revelations from God all the time. It is a oneness that finds its roots much deeper than that. Marriage is a covenant and a promise made before God. It is a pledge we make before Him to support, and love, and grow with one another, and it is a wonderful gift from God.
“He who finds a wife finds a good thing,
And obtains favour from the Lord.”
I am thankful for what God teaches me in marriage, but I also see the blessings of God in the season of singleness. I remember my time serving the Lord as a single woman and have so much to thank God for in that time as well. Being married is different in that I have a husband to consider as I make decisions, but it does not change the position God takes in my life. He is still, and always Lord.
. . .
So, what does the “oneness” of marriage look like, and how can we be dependent and yet independent in it?
1. We are first dependent on God.
When we got married, one of the congregational songs we chose was “Jesus at the Centre”. We wanted to build our marriage on this foundation of Christ as our Centre and four years on, our desire remains the same.
[1 Corinthians 3:11] says,
“For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”
This is true also, of the foundation we build our marriage upon. A marriage built on Christ has Christ who is eternal, to keep it strong. Any other foundation is temporary and it is sad to see the many marriages that crumble today because of different expectations, finances, hardship, deceit or even what people term “falling out of love”.
There is one promise I made on my wedding day that is even more important than the vows I declared to my husband; that is the vow I made to the Lord. I promised God that I would love my husband all the days of my life and that is a promise I know God will help me keep.
2. We are independent in our relationship with God.
No one can build a relationship with God except you, not even your spouse. We are all individually, uniquely and beautifully made in the image of God. Each one of us has a different personality, different spiritual gifts, different assignments to fulfill on earth. While my husband helps me in many ways, he cannot directly build my relationship with Christ. That is something I have to do myself, and something that is between me and God.
As wonderful as my husband’s journey with God is, it is not mine. There are things God tells my husband that He does not tell me. There are things God tells me that He does not tell my husband. We might share our revelations with one another, and we may get the same sense of where God is leading, but God might also tell us different things, or perhaps the same thing in different ways.
God wants to speak to us individually. He wants to have a relationship with us. In marriage, we encourage one another towards God, but we each have our own unique testimonies, and our own journey with God.
“Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
And in your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them.”
One thing we have learnt in marriage is how to discern what God says to us as a couple, and what He wants to tell us individually.
3. We have a responsibility to support one another in our God-ordained callings.
[Ecclesiastes 4:9-10] says,
“Two are better than one. Because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, For he has no one to help him up.”
For better and for worse, for richer and poorer, in sickness and in health. Life goes through its ups and downs, just as our spiritual journeys experience victories and valleys.
We all have a responsibility to encourage one another in Christ, and we have every opportunity to do this with a spouse. Supporting one another can take many shapes and forms. It is something we have grown in and appreciated throughout our marriage. I have some wonderful examples of how my husband has supported me in my walk with God.
- He prays for me daily
- He listens to me
- He researches and sets up music gear so I can practice for the church worship team
- He lets me go to Cambodia on a mission trip even when he is not able to go, trusting that God has things to show me there
- He challenges me to grow in godly character
- He encourages me when I have doubts
My husband sees what God is doing in my life and is always willing to spur me on. I pray that I also will support Him in this way.
4. We learn what God means for us to do as a couple, and what He means for us to do as a son or daughter in our field of influence.
There are times my husband and I will minister to people together. Then, there are other times when the ministry is better done individually; different people, different situations, and different tasks. Watching others and learning from our own journey, my husband and I have grown to better discern what God means for us to do together, and what He means for us to do individually.
For example, I once felt compelled to speak out about an issue to a group of people. I felt a bit worried about it and ran it past my husband. He would have done the task for me, but it wasn’t his task to do. This was something God has placed on my heart, and it was something my husband instead was able to encourage me to step into. So, even though ultimately I was the one to take action in this case, I did it together with my husband who supported me.
I love serving God together with my husband. We have different strengths and weaknesses and can both cover for one another and help each other to grow. Ultimately our marriage and our ministry is directed by God. He is the foundation of our marriage and He is the one who helps us to love. We want to experience more of His love everyday, to love Him, to love one another and to love the people He brings across our paths.
“The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord,
Like rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes.”
. . .
Dependent independence; to me it represents a marriage dependent on the love of Christ. The independence comes as we walk out in the opportunities and giftings He gives us, and as we encourage our spouse to do the same. We are dependent on each other in trusting we will always push one another closer to Christ, and yet we are independent as we each pursue our own relationship with Him.