Encouragement for Young Christian Couples With Struggling Marriages
“I know I’m not having a baby with a sh###y-a## man,” rapper Cardi B explained to Rolling Stone Magazine. She was referring to her then-fiancée, Offset, who is also a rapper and member of the Atlanta-based hip hop group “Migos.” Like most brides-to-be and mothers-to-be, Cardi expressed what she probably truly felt at the time. “We really love each other,” Offset echoed, “she’s real. I wanted real” communicating what most husbands and daddy’s-to-be sincerely feel about their anticipated wife and baby momma.
Their statements to Rolling Stone was published June 20, 2018. They’ve since married, had a child, and are now reportedly soon to be divorced. On her social media account, Cardi announced, “Things just haven’t been working out between us for a long time. It’s nobody’s fault. I guess, like, we grew out of love. But we’re not together anymore.” Offset has since publicly declared he still loves and misses his wife. He even recently interrupted Cardi’s performance at the Rolling Loud Festival in Los Angeles in an open-air attempt at “winning her back.” Some speculate their separation could be part of a ploy to boost the sale of Offset’s forthcoming album. Regardless, many are confused and some saddened by the sudden split of the unorthodox couple.
Making Marriage Hard
In an era when breakups seem to be the norm, and the word “love” is used carelessly, where can young Christian couples find encouragement and hope in their own relationships? Do we take our cue from the culture and go our separate ways when we “fall out of love?” Is it even possible for young married Christians to “fall out of love?” If so, how are we to handle disappointments in marriage?
These are weighty considerations, and there are no easy answers for each specific scenario. But how young Christian couples remedy these questions will look different from how the world responds to them, because our hope for marriage is distinct from the world. Jesus told his disciples in this world they will have suffering, but to be courageous because he conquered the world (John 16:33). Though that is not an exclusive analysis of marriage, suffering and disappointment are sometimes elements of our relationships (and I speak from personal experience).
When I forget that Christ has overcome the world and all its accompanying betrayals, consternations, and heartache, I tend to insist on my own way and lean on my own understanding; I retaliate out of hurt and fear rather than with forgiveness and kindness; I use and objectify my wife instead of honoring and serving her. I fall out of love and begin slowly falling into sin: lust, pride, impatience, pornography, adultery, and anger.
Plainly stated, I make marriage harder than it has to be when I step out of God’s will to sacrifice for and live with my wife in an understanding way (Ephesians 5:25; 1 Peter 3:7). My wife will acquiesce that she makes marriage just as difficult when she fails to adorn her heart with the beauty of Christ (1 Peter 3:4). And when we do, we find ourselves on the same trail Cardi B and Offset are on. If it weren’t for the grace of our God, we too would have been separated due to our hard-heartedness and indifference. If you’re anything like us, you probably struggle similarly when you take your eyes off Jesus and place them on all the ways your spouse fails you.
We Were Not Made For Marriage
Some experts believe that when we fall prey to our fleshly desires in marriage, the anecdote is to focus on the positives and remember the good times—the moments in our relationships when love was curious and the possibilities continually filled us with awe. Though “good times” are good to reflect on and give God thanks for, they cannot fulfill our marital joy, because we are not made exclusively for marriage. We are created to glorify God. And we can only truly glorify God in our marriages when our will to do so is originated in the person and work of Jesus. He’s the only person who knows how it feels to give the world all his strength, energy, and love only to have it reciprocated with hate, betrayal, and deceit; yet, he still chooses to love the world and forgive sinners who repent (Philippians 2:7–8; Matthew 23:37; John 3:16–17).
What we think we are gaining when we react with rudeness, sarcasm, or unfaithfulness towards our spouse when they won’t or can’t give us the immediate satisfaction of whatever is we seek from them is only our monumental loss. This is something Cardi B understands and sometimes communicates through her music. “Do you know what you doin,” Cardi sings on “Be Careful,” a single off her latest album “Invasion of Privacy.” “You gon’ gain the whole world, but is worth the girl that you losing?” Of course the potential of losing our spouse is hurtful enough, but we reap corruption and lose the glory of God when we sin against our spouse and seek the glory of this world (Matthew 6:33; 1 Corinthians 11:7; Galatians 6:7).
There Is Hope For Your Marriage
Only time will tell whether Cardi and Offset’s marriage is truly over. Regardless, young Christian couples have hope that enables us stand firm in our marriages when relationships around us seem to be falling to the enemies attacks (1 Peter 5:8). This is because the joy Christians root our marriages in is the love of God through Jesus Christ, not self-help, charm, nor perception. When we accept that we are incapable of loving our spouses, but are fully called and capable of walking in God’s love operating through us, we can experience the joy of the Lord in our marriages.
If your marriage isn’t all social-media marital bliss, you’re not alone. However, we are not left without hope. We can pray confidently every day to be filled with God’s love—love that is patient, kind, not envious nor boastful, nor arrogant, rude, self-seeking, nor irritable, and does not keep a record of our spouse’s wrongs—and move toward our spouse with that love knowing that our prayers and God’s promises find their “yes” in Jesus (Matthew 19:6; 2 Corinthians 1:20). Be encouraged, in Christ all things are possible, including a marriage that endures all things (Mark 10:27; 1 Corinthians 13:4—7; Philippians 1:21).