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Marriage of the Heart

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Marriage of the Heart

 

We’ve been talking about divorce and remarriage in the last two posts. But what if we are in a marriage we don’t want to be in? You may be thinking this isn’t freedom. It is bondage. What about the grace of God? What about His promises of deliverance? What about happy is He who trusts the Lord? Proverbs 16:20

There are many women and men who feel they are trapped in a marriage because it is God’s will they don’t divorce. So, they “endure”. Is this what God wants for His children?

We aren’t to divorce (except in certain situations abuse, adultery, etc as led by the Spirit), so we endure. We tolerate. We do the minimum amount. In our heart we long for a way out. We want it to end. We lose ourselves in other things; children, friendships, work, and ministries, and our spouse slips toward the bottom of the list. . . Most of us have felt feelings similar to this at some point. But, this isn’t a marriage, because true marriage is about the heart. This is a heart of divorce and not God’s will. With this mindset and heart, we are cultivating division instead of peace and love. We are our own worst enemy in wrecking havoc in our marriage. This may be a hard truth to face for those of us who have lived in this mindset. But being in this place is bondage. There is a much better way. God wants so much more for us. God wants to heal and renew our marriages. He doesn’t want us to divorce. He doesn’t want us to live in misery either. He wants us to believe and experience His power of His love at work in the marriage we have.

Marriage isn’t about a piece of paper just as divorce isn’t about that. In the eyes of God, it is about the state of our heart, a heart of love. God instituted marriage to illustrate our relationship with Him. With Him, what is most important is our heart, not our outward actions. The same is true with an earthly marriage. Ephesians 5:25. All of God’s commandments are grounded in love including marriage. 1 Timothy 1:5 He doesn’t want us to simply “endure” but abide in satisfaction. Proverbs 19:23

In marriage, like everything else, our thoughts create much of what happens because our emotional output and actions carry the truth of our thoughts. The movie Fireproof is a great example of this concept. The main character, played by Kirk Cameron, did “nice” things for his wife in a last effort to save his marriage, but his wife knew that his heart wasn’t in it. He didn’t want to do them and that is what she felt. So his actions meant little to her. But when his heart surrendered to God, then he was filled with God’s love and that love filled his actions. When it did, she noticed a difference – a change that made all the difference and saved their marriage. It isn’t just about our actions and our actions without love flowing into them from our core don’t mean much.

People feel our core, which our thoughts reflect. And ladies, men feel it too. We wonder why he can be so detached and unaware as he sits around on the couch lost in the TV or buries himself in his work or hobbies – but it’s probably to escape our negativity coming from our thoughts. Not that this is always the case, but it is a lot more often than people think. How often we hear people say; I do this and that for him and he still ignores and disrespects me! It is your heart he is responding to. Men, it’s the same with the ladies. If you are being unfaithful, disconnected, and not loving your wife in your heart, she feels is and responds. We can see the vicious cycle it creates as we feed and respond to each other’s true thoughts. We love to blame others because we’re being so “nice”. But are we really? What if our spouse could hear all our thoughts? How nice would we be? Well, that is what they feel. Though they may not know exactly what they are feeling from someone, they feel it good or bad and react. If we are pouring his coffee and cursing him in our heart – it is the cursing he feels and will react to. It all starts with our thoughts. They are often the culprit feeding our problems. 2 Corinthians 10:5

This impact of our thoughts is why counseling can be constructive and helpful to a marriage. Counseling helps us to have more understanding, which leads to compassion and a change in our thoughts. It brings to light the error of our thinking as we talk through issues. We gain new perspectives. Fundamentally, we learn from counseling to think differently and that impacts our marriage. However, what we learn from counseling is at a surface level. And though it can be helpful, there is something else that cuts through everything including our thoughts, the love of God.

When we truly come to know the love of God it changes how we think and feel about others at our core. God’s love is powerful to make a significant change in any relationship.

Unlike the movie Fireproof, for me experiencing the love of God that was beyond myself took a long time. For years, I prayed to know His love. One day God filled me with it and it changed how I felt (not fleeting emotions, but a deep unchanging care) about me, God and others. Since then it has never left but grown. It came from developing a relationship with Him by abiding daily in His Word. As I grew to know God and drew near to Him, He drew near to me and His presence including His love filled my life. It started to change how I deeply felt about others. His love is powerful beyond anything we know. It seems daily I learn more and more about its purity and perfection in our lives. Most don’t understand its power and therefore don’t trust in it, because they haven’t experienced it. It is worth the heart-felt request to ask to deeply know His love. When it takes over, it renews us in so many ways including us, our heart toward our spouse, and our marriage. It isn’t an instant process but it is a process that will blow your mind. Where there once was coldness, hardness, bitterness, resentment, pain, anger, indifference, is now love; a love that is pure and strong because it is of God.

Marriage isn’t about just staying in the same house. It is about the state of our heart. But what if our spouse is unlovable? Look at God. How He loves us. His love is powerful. It isn’t by our own strength that we love but by His. Philippians 4:13 It is His love flowing through us; the love we gain by cultivating a relationship with Him. When His love flows through us it can change everything. 1 Peter 4:8

There have been several times God has called me to love someone that was unlovable at the time. The difference in those people when they felt His love through me was incredible. They may have not realized exactly what it was they felt or what changed but they felt it because their demeanor and actions changed, and the dynamic of our relationship followed. One very important note, the only way I was able to truly love was because of God’s love in me. There are two scenarios in which I didn’t have that love of God for others. One, before I had a close relationship with God, I didn’t have true love that has power. If we aren’t closely connected to Him in truth and spirit we’ll lack the power of His love. Second, my heart got hard out of pride. When I confessed that pride and prayed with a sincere motive to truly love that person then God’s love flow toward them. James 4:3 Pride is a huge enemy of love.

Every commandment of God comes down to love. Marriage is an emotional, physical, and spiritual oneness. Some of us may be far from this now. And for many of us we are a big part of the problem because the thoughts we are holding and feeding about our marriage. We need to get our hearts right about our marriage and we do that by abiding in God’s truth and letting His Words of love wash us, through prayer, and knowing that He desires a marriage of the heart – a marriage of love. And this is very important – we must believe He is powerful enough to renew our marriage and that He wants to. It is easy to doubt God’s power in this area when we are face to face with all the issues. We can easily get too focused on what is and not focused on Him. Is a renewal too hard for God? Is God too weak? Is His love to frail? Is His mercy to small?

God wants our marriages to represent our union with Him. And our union with Him is all about love – true and powerful.

A fellow blogger, Ruth, wrote a piece sharing her heart about marriage, Learning about the Precious Concept of Marriage, I encourage you to check it out.

A resource for prayer for your marriage is Proverbs 5. These ladies have a heart for marriage especially in the area of intimacy. It is there desire to pray for you.

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Author: Rachel

My passion is cultivating a deep relationship with God and helping others to do the same. I LOVE sharing with others insights that God has taught me and hearing what God has taught them... thus my blog, Stirring the Deep. My focus is on a relationship, not a religion. Life is in the relationship. I believe in a balance and unity of body, mind and spirit. I feel it's important to nurture all three for they all affect each other. I try to live in the present, where the Holy Spirit is. And I try to do all with the motive of love. I've come to believe life is a journey and not a destination. It isn't about perfection, is it about growth.

20 thoughts on “Marriage of the Heart

  1. This is interesting and thought provoking, but I’m not sure about opening the doors of divorce because of inconvenience or freedom. Unfortunately it seems that everyone wants things to be easy and perfect, but the only thing that is perfect is God himself. Most use the words for better or for worse in their vowels, but what most end up wanting is only better and absolutely zero worse, and when they do get a little worse tossed in, they then decide it’s not worth it. I may have misunderstood what you were conveying, and if so I apologize, but the last thing we need to do, is give more reasoning and excuses for couples to give up easily. But as I say on my blog all the time… what do I know! Thanks again for making me think.

    • Asmalltowndad – I wasn’t opening the doors for divorce at all. I was talking about being in a marriage with a heart of love, not divorce. Many stay in marriages but their heart is bent on not being there and I don’t feel that is God’s will. I really hope this was clear. It will be interesting to hear what other people think and to see if they are confused as well. Thanks for your comment.

  2. Enjoyed your post Rachel 😉

  3. Rachel.

    I really like this article and I agree with what you are saying. However there has been a trend I have noticed which concerns me greatly, and that is the tendency of the “church” culture to encourage spouses who are experiencing abuse to stick it out. I would like to take this opportunity to say that if a person is in an abusive situation and there is a serious concern for their safety or the safety of their children they should get out of that situation as soon as they can, abuse if it is allowed to run it’s course almost always gets worse over time.
    God might be calling a person to stay and pray for a grumpy or difficult spouse, but I think we are asking too much of a person if we insist that God wants them to stay in a dangerous situation. Also it is very common for an abusive person to “make nice” and say how much they have changed, just to get control of the situation again. So a group of elders at a “church” might be swayed by the pathetic apology of an abuser and encourage a reconciliation which should never take place. To stay or to go is still the decision of the individual, It is not right to allow “church” authorities to badger a person into a decision they are not comfortable with.

    I would also like to underscore some of what you were saying about the relationship of marriage. Often when we are in the throes of romance we do not take the serious and humble steps needed to discern God’s will for that relationship and that is why so many of us end up sweeping up the fragments later. Whatever a person decides to do in their relationship when it becomes difficult or impossible, they should humbly seek the Lord to understand what God has in store. He may want the person to ride out the storm, and reconcile, or He may want that person to leave and divorce, it could be a needed wake up call for that difficult or abusive spouse. The main thing is, we must seek His will in all that we do and then He will provide the resources, to deal with the task at hand. If a person can go through a serious situation like a divorce and come out of it relying on the Lord more than ever, it could be one of those ways that He makes a good thing come out of a bad thing. As when the Hebrew children had to go through slavery in Egypt and the wandering all over the wilderness before they got to the Promised Land.
    If you listen to Him, God will bring you through it.

    Dear asmalltowndad, I think it may be assuming too much power over the lives of others to speak of opening the doors, or conversely, shutting the doors in marriage situations.
    The decisions people make when they wed or divorce are personal ones, as people outside of that relationship we have no authority to dictate what those people decide to do. Our position should be to support healthy marriage relationships. And I might remind you that it is not a matter of “convenience” when abuse is involved. Many abuse victims will not admit to being abused, especially when their concerns are dismissed by “churchy” types as being a merely matter of “convenience”.
    It is time that we were adult and realistic about people who so often masquerade as believers and yet do not even have the compassion needed to treat their spouses in kindly and respectful fashion. Remember the wheat and the tares are still in the same field together.
    Idealistic notions about what God wants are no substitute for what He really wants to do in a given situation. We must seek Him and know what He wants to do. He did not simply wind us up and let us go. He is alive and He is really here with us and can be communicated with.

    • Nathan – Thank you so much for you comment! I completely agree and glad you added your input. There are times when divorce is the answer as in situations you described. And as you put it “we must seek Him and know what He wants us to do.”

  4. Hi, Rachel

    The way I read you is that you’re saying we should not only stay in our marriages, but that, more than this, we need to also keep our hearts in tune with our marriages. We need to remain emotionally engaged–not just go through the motions.

    Practically speaking, without the Holy Spirit helping, this is difficult if not impossible for the majority of couples to accomplish–let alone a couple with only one person committed to the Lord and/or to the marriage.

    I think that Asmalltowndad may have extrapolated your saying that your heart must be in your marriage to conclude that if your heart isn’t in the marriage, you should dissolve the marriage. No one who had read your blog for long would come to this conclusion, but it’s possible he could think that if he’s a new reader of yours.

    Great series. There are always the hard cases (and I’ve known a few of them–complete with broken bones, black eyes, and crushed self-esteem), but for most of us, we can always use some encouragement in this area. Being married is not something we can just coast along with. It takes effort.

    So, Thanks!

    • Cindy – thanks for your words. And great point about the Holy Spirit. It is true – we can’t do it without a real relationship with God, which would entail truly having the Holy Spirit. And yes, my point is God can renew and heal and I believe He wants us in a loving marriage and to seek His healing in that and understanding the part we play. But we can’t do it without Him.

  5. I just finished writing a piece on the two stories in Luke 8 of the demon possessed man and the woman with the issue of blood. The common thing with each of their stories is that they had both been in their circumstances for a long time. And in that time, neither themselves nor anyone else were able to help them.

    Surely we each have a part of ourselves that neither we or anyone else has been able to change. Surely there are others (maybe our spouse) we have not been able to change.

    I realized from these 2 stories, that with that thing we cannot change, whether in ourselves or someone else, there is only one source that is able to. It hse been challenged me to apply the same energy toward the only One who can really make the change – to press until ‘power goes out from Him’.

    It has been pretty cool.

    • Mike – some great words here. I’ve found that I’m pretty much useless on my own to change anything- it is only by God’s grace and mercy that good is in my life – and there is a lot because His mercy and grace is extensive. It reminds me of the verse – Psalm 60:11 “Give us help from trouble, For the help of man is useless.” We try to do so much on our own – when it should be laying down our life and strength and living in His.

  6. Hey Rachel, as usual this was an enlightening and encouraging read. One of your statements that really stood out is that in cases where spouses are wishing for a way out and only enduring a marriage, “this is a heart of divorce…” I had never thought that much about it before although God has been impressing upon me the truth of Jesus’ statements that hating in our hearts is like murder and looking in lust is like adultery in God’s eyes. Realizing that the sins of the mind and heart are sins like any other sins has been one of the most challenging truths I’ve ever been taught…in a way, it’s also a freeing truth because although it’s often difficult to control actions, these tasks usually seem more doable than controlling thoughts and feelings. Keeping our hearts and minds completely obedient to Christ and genuinely full of His love, loving Him and loving others, is just not possible without the mighty power of His grace working in us and transforming us; that’s why I love 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 so much!

    You make another point that sort of pulls all of this together for me: “If we aren’t closely connected to Him in truth and spirit we’ll lack the power of His love.” How true! A while back when I was reading in John 14, the Spirit led me to focus on something I had never really thought through before. Jesus says that He is the truth and that the only way to the Father is through Him (vs. 6), and in his first letter, John says God is Love… so taking that a little further, the only way to God/Love is through Jesus/Truth. A life on the straight and narrow path must be characterized by both love and truth. And, as you’ve been discussing, the truth about marriage and divorce is so often lost on us and our culture. It’s disturbing to me that we so easily fall into making decisions based on experience or on what feels right (i.e. reasoning such as “surely God wouldn’t want you to stay in that situation”) instead of obeying the Truth as given in God’s Word. Seeking the truth, without regard to our selfish “needs” and desires is one of the most important lessons I’ve been learning through these posts and my own study, and being able to act on the truth out of genuine, unfeigned love is still something that definitely needs work in me! but I trust and pray that God is working!

    In reading over some of the comments on this post, I’ve also been thinking about situations where people see divorce as the only choice. I know it’s not for me to say what these people should do although I don’t know that the Church is called to leave such huge questions entirely up to the individual since Paul often writes about certain issues being brought before the brethren or brethren (one or more) going to speak with someone on a certain issue. In any case, I think we sometimes give ourselves only two choices – stick it out no matter what OR get a divorce – when it seems more Biblical that in some cases, like abuse or desertion, someone could leave without officially getting a divorce. Since I believe a spouse is called not to remarry in the case of a “divorce” anyway, I wonder why people feel the pressure or need to get an official, legal divorce. If we believe that once married, only death can separate couples, as represented in Romans 7:2 and 1 Corinthians 7:39, then I wonder why it’s not more practiced that people simply “depart” as represented in 1 Corinthians 7:10-11, where Paul says, “And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband: But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.” I’ve seen several situations where husband and wife do not sever their ties through divorce but for various reasons, after much prayer and consulting with God, choose to live separately. Just something to consider.

    As always, thanks for the discussion! Praying for all of us to see clearly and live the Truth God reveals to us!

    • Ruth – some wonderful thoughts here. And I have too thought about the “departing” aspect verses a legal separation and I think in some cases that may be the way to go. There are so many issues around this topic. It makes it even more important to cutlivate that relationship with God so that we can learn to hear and discern His Spirit’s counsel in our lives. That is the only way we know we are heeding His will and not our own or someone else’s. And as you mentioned it is a great prayer to ask for clarity in His truths.

  7. Good morning. There’s so much truth in this post that I don’t even know how to comment. I can say, however, that the Lord kept our marriage together through seasons when I would have felt justified to let it go the way of so many others these days. At one point, when misunderstanding was running high on both sides (but primarily mine) I was thinking that if this does fall apart, I’ll have more time to get into the streets with the gospel. This is a very dangerous mindset and tends to actually propel us into doing things contrary to a healthy relationship. Each time such thoughts arose, I was instantly reminded of the Holy Spirit that this was wrong.

    In spite of all this, we stayed together, despite having vastly different world views. The peace of God remained in my heart; even in the midst of circumstances that would cause many to cancel their promise of “until death do us part.” And last weekend, Mrs timbob believed upon the Lord Jesus Christ; something that may have never transpired if either of us had torpedoed the marriage beyond repair. (It transpired on our 18th anniversary.)

    So much has changed over the past several months and I know that it’s only the beginning. In the time that remains in this venue, seeing what the Lord is doing is a thing to daily look forward to and stay in fervent prayer concerning. Striving to always walk in the Spirit as he will steer us clear of pitfalls and let us know whenever we’re about to say something stupid.

    I had to breeze through this kind of quickly because the goats are hungry and we have a lot of running around to do today. But I wanted to take a moment to add to the conversation. Thanks for addressing this.

    Blessings always in Jesus name.

    timbob

    • Hi Timbob – I’m so glad you took the time to comment. I was talking to a friend the other day and we were talking about the marriages where they chose to honor God and stay in it though it was very difficult and how God blessed and honored that decision. I’m so glad to hear about Mrs. Timbob!! God can do mighty things through us but if we leave during the battle then how can the victory be won? Also, you made a great point about neglecting our spouses for the work of God. I think this is a great temptation especially when we are struggling in our marriage. But God’s will is that we love our spouse as we are loved by Him. That says it all. It isn’t about one or the other but both.

  8. Rachel this is a very powerful reminder.

    Thank you for sharing your wisdom.

  9. I understand completely what you are saying..Abba Father taught me the same concept of the heart ,using parable of the king.who forgave the guy who owed him money such a great debt, but then grabbed his brother, who only owed him little, and had him thrown into prison. I thought I had forgiven somone who hurt me very badly until I came face to face with the Lord Yeshuas words, that we would be turned over to the tormenters if we did not forgive from the heart..It was my marriage, and it was my husband I had not forgiven from the heart.. Now I wanted to forgive, but the betrayel was of a kind that cut to the very core of my heart, and the day I read that word I knew my forgivness was just lip service and not from the heart. I love for Yeshua/Jesus gave me the desire to please him above myself, but I knew I did not have the capability to do this in my own strength.. My marriage was miserable, just going through the motions, and yes, my husband could feel that no matter how I tried to be outwardly obedient..I cried out to the lord for help in my despreation and asked him to help me see my husband through his eyes of love, and to give me His love for HIm.. It was not easy, however I kept pressing on, and I testify that today I am staring to love him again, and He is responding to that love by showing much more care and consideration for me than He ever has before..on march 15th 2013 I celebrated seven years of being in Abbas kingdom and seven years of being free from years of homlessness and all that came with it.. GLORY GLORY GLORY FOR HE IS ABLE TO SAVE TO THE UTTERMOST, AS HE LIVES TO MAKE INTERCESSION FOR US. HE IS A GOOD SHEPHERD. AND I LOVE HIM AND I LOVE ALL OF YOU. BLESSINGS, FROM RUTHIE

    • Hi Ruth, it is truly a blessing how God can heal our past pains by changing our perspectives, filling our minds with truth, changing how we see ourselves and others, showing us the meaning of honor, how we took part in our pain. I’m so thankful for the love rising up in your marriage; sometimes this can be a relationship that is hard to find true deep forgiveness and healing; but if we seek truth and the purest of love we find God’s abundant mercy and healing.

      Rachel

  10. Sorry about all the mistakes

  11. amen, And all it takes is to be willing to come into agreement with His word.. He does all the work.. He who began a good work in us will also complete it, for He is the author and the finisher of our faith..that is such a comforting promise to me.. Glory to Yahweh. what a good Shepherd.. we read his word and listen for his voice and he leads us to still waters to drink of HIm..I recenlty learned that in the hebrew when the word says, HEAR OH ISRAEL.. IT MEANS , NOT ONLY HEAR BUT ALSO DO.. THEY GO TOGETHER..thankyou for your labor of love to the body of Messiah..

  12. This part of the reason why I never want to have any kind of intimacy with a Lady ( the only moral God given way). I know marriage is a huge responsiblity, I look at Gary Chapman 5 love Langauges and what I have heard on marriage and I know it is a really huge responsiblity. Though a good marriage can make the command GOD gave towards spouses to be a blessing. I know marriage is a lifetime lesson.

    Of course I am in no condition Spiritually or financial for any thing like this… Half of me or maybe more wants to be a celibate. Even though I know God that is an doctrine coming from false religions.

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