There’s a popular notion out there that God’s design for marriage is not our happiness, but to make us more like Jesus. I have read articles and book summaries stating that our loving Father isn’t at all concerned if we are happy in marriage. We need to stick it out no matter what, confess our sins, forgive our spouse, and be more like Jesus. This teaching says the reason God instituted marriage is so our faults can grate on each other forcing us to cry out to God in desperation. Seems to me like a sort of grit your teeth and make the best of a bad situation kind of gospel.
I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t sound like my God.
In the midst of my own marriage crisis, there were multiple reasons to call it quits. There were multiple reasons to stay and fight for our legacy. I struggled to find somewhere to hang my hope. Near as I could tell there was no place in the Bible where God specifically promises us a successful, fulfilled, and happy marriage. The popular reading material seemed to back up that thought.
Considerable healing needed to take place between my husband and me and a lot of hard work. There had to be hope for happiness in my marriage. Otherwise, there was no basis for my faith to believe for reconciliation.
So, I started asking God for hope because it looked hopeless. In return God asked me a question. “When did I (God) first institute marriage?” Grabbing my Bible, I headed for the beginning. The garden. Before sin.
On the sixth day God made man and woman in His own image, placed them in the garden, and declared that it was good. Genesis, chapter two, goes on to explain that the two become one. They were naked and unashamed.
By the way, this garden was named Eden. Eden means delight.
There is our hope! God designed marriage to be a unique relationship between a man and woman. Each one helping the other. Completely vulnerable, yet completely safe. When God put the first couple together they were already perfect and lived in the garden of delight. They didn’t need to forgive each other. They were – dare I say it? – happy! That happiness was threatened only when sin entered the picture and life became hard.
We all live in the reality that life is hard. We don’t live in the Garden of Eden. And yes, our spouses annoy us and sometimes we hurt each other badly. The happiness of our marriages was threatened before we ever thought about taking a spouse. There is no denying any relationship, especially marriage, has potential to promote spiritual growth if we allow it. However, to say God didn’t intend our marriages to be happy is a misrepresentation of God.
Hope is found in knowing God’s word. As well as understanding the will (the desire) of God, the character and nature of God. Those who are struggling in a hopeless and difficult marriage need to know where to find hope. I am here to let you know God does indeed want your marriage to be happy and fulfilling. It is His plan and design.
I am not saying unhappiness alone is grounds for divorce. But if your marriage is at ground zero and you’re staring at a pile of rubble, please know there is hope. Hope in God Who loves you, your spouse, your family. God is not blind to your hurt or situation. His plan for you is good and I believe that includes a healthy dose of happiness.