When we got married we wanted to make it our goal to have a strong foundation of unity as our top priority along with maintaining a strong faith in God in our daily lives. Not surprisingly, having faith in God is sometimes easier than working daily to create a sense of “togetherness” in our marriage. That’s not to say that maintaining faith in God is a pushover because it is certainly not, but placing your security and trust in another human being is different than placing your security and trust in our God that oversaw creation and the sending of Jesus.

The rationale behind our goal of togetherness in marriage is simple: Almost every narrative, story, or letter in scripture has a group of people as its audience that presupposes a sense of community among the audience. This shows that in order for that narrative, story, or letter to be lived out and fulfilled, the audience must do its part in being the community that represents God and takes the light to all the nations. Individualism in Christianity is a fairly new concept in its history, so two thousand years ago when Jesus walked the earth it would be an obvious statement to say that togetherness should be the goal of any community, or in this case, a marriage. “My” spirituality is actually “our” spirituality, “my” time is actually “our” time, and so on. We decided that if we are ever going to represent God to the nations, much less our own community, then we are going to have to represent God to one another first and foremost. If we can do that even semi-successfully, we know that a foundation has been set in order to duplicate that love to those around us. It would be extremely fake to attempt to love others in our life when we know the love between us is not authentic. So, in short, our love for each other, beginning with how God loves us, represents our foundation to be able to love others.

Sometimes I wonder, “If we get into a bunch of arguments and disrespect one another, how are we going to be able to love other people the right way? Does it mean the foundation of love between us is compromised?” Nope. Because with great arguments comes great reconciliation and forgiveness, which happens to be a core aspect of the gospel. If we can reconcile and forgive each other in a healthy way then that only elevates our ability to reconcile and forgive others in our life.    

Love is a choice. The sweeping feelings of the honeymoon period don’t last very long. So, when we cook dinner, do the laundry, do the dishes, and clean up child-vomit, we don’t do it because we actually feel like it. We do it regardless of our feelings. When we say or do something mean, we may react with anger or disappointment for a little while, but we choose to forgive and encourage even in light of how much we hurt. We choose to love even when the world says you have every right to be angry with your spouse. The decisions to love each other in those small moments have a lasting impact on how we choose to love the world. If we choose love our spouse even when we don’t feel like it, there is a strong chance we will choose to love the world even when we don’t feel like it.