“I’m concerned about the future of my marriage.” said James. “I’m starting to wonder if there was any hope of having a closer relationship with my wife? Or, is this the best it’s ever going to get. We have an average marriage that’s about a B minus but I wish it were an A+. We’ve made progress through the years, especially since we’ve been depending on Christ in us, but I know it could be better.”
I asked, “What do you believe the barriers are to a more intimate relationship?” He responded, “I’m fairly certain it’s baggage we both brought into our marriage that keeps raising it’s ugly head. I realize it’s what the Bible calls the flesh, but when it happens, we both walk away hurt. Over time, this has sort of numbed us, causing us to settle into a settled for relationship. In some ways it seems as though we’ve resigned ourselves that this is the best it’s going to get. Do you think there is a way to offload our baggage so that we can get closer?” “Yes, I sure do. Just as we will always want to go deeper in our relationship with Jesus, we will always want to go deeper and deeper in intimacy with our spouses. God made us for that. But as you have already seen, baggage we carry around is a huge hindrance to this. Yet, God has made a way for us to live free from it.”
Do you ever feel like James? That is, do you feel like you and your spouse are not as close as you desire? Do you wonder if there’s baggage you brought into your marriage? If so, you are unfortunately in a typical marriage. The majority of Christian marriages experience drifting over time. Others, don’t just drift but develop a rift because of the infliction of divisive pain or unmet expectations. Some begin to think they have married the wrong person. If you identify with any of this, here’s some good news. You are not doomed to live like this for the remainder of your life. There’s always hope for greater marital closeness in Christ!
We were created by God to be loved. His design is for us to experience Him loving us from within, resulting in a deep inner satisfaction. Only then can we rely on Him to express His love to our spouse. Yet, fleshly baggage can hinder this, and does in every marriage. Baggage such as anger, indifference, fixing instead of listening, not making decisions together, pride, verbal punishing, unforgiveness, inability to resolve conflict, inability to not have fun, super spirituality, withholding sex, alcohol abuse, not spending time alone together, controlling, inability to receive and give love, self-absorption, self-centeredness, etc., are not expressions of Christ in us but rather the flesh.
Because of Christ in us, and our new heart in Him, deep down we don’t want to live like this but want to let the Holy Spirit live in and through us. Galatians 5:16-17 expresses it this way: So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.
For you who are married, does any of this sound familiar? If so, we know there is a better life for you in Christ and we are here to help. We offer Marriage by Grace Conferences that will give you a big dose of hope, help, and healing. Our marital counseling is also our most sought after counseling. In addition, if you don’t need counseling, we provide marriage coaching, mentoring you in living a better marriage. For any of these, you can find out more at GraceLifeInternational.com or call us at 704-522-9026.
Here’s one more encouragement. Having been married for over 35 years, my wife and I know from experience that everyone has ups and downs. But with a solid foundation of Christ as your life underneath you, you can move forward. Yet, sometimes, we need some help from people like the staff at GLI to get us over the rocky places.
Live Free in Christ in Your Marriage,
Mark Maulding, President and Founder