One of my earliest writing mentors was author Gary Thomas. Gary is one of the most generous professionals I know. He's always willing to share information and network with others. So I was glad to see that Crosswalk was excerpting from his book, Sacred Marriage, which I've also recommended (at right). His current column is titled The Sin Behind Marital Dissatisfaction." Here is an excerpt:
Whenever marital dissatisfaction rears its head in my marriage -- as it does in virtually every marriage -- I simply check my focus. The times that I am happiest and most fulfilled in my marriage are the times when I am intent on drawing meaning and fulfillment from becoming a better husband rather than from demanding a "better" wife. If you're a Christian, the reality is that, biblically speaking, you can't swap your spouse for someone else. But you can change yourself. And that change can bring the fulfillment that you mistakenly believe is found only by changing partners. In one sense, it's comical: Yes, we need a changed partner, but the partner that needs to change is not our spouse, it's us!
I don't know why this works. I don't know how you can be unsatisfied maritally, and then offer yourself to God to bring about change in your life and suddenly find yourself more satisfied with the same spouse. I don't why this works, only that it does work. It takes time, and by time I mean maybe years. But if your heart is driven by the desire to draw near to Jesus, you find joy by becoming like Jesus. You'll never find joy by doing something that offends Jesus -- such as instigating a divorce or an affair.
I appreciate Gary's candor and his direct counsel. While the ladies at Girl Talk are continuing with their courtship series, Gary brings us a sober word about what temptations lie after the romantic seasons of courtship, engagement, and the wedding. I think we can find ways to apply Gary's counsel even in our single years. Are there other areas of commitment that we treat the same way? When the going gets rough (at work, with roommates, with our church), do we try to quit and/or leave, rather than doing the hard work of changing ourselves? It's a pattern we ought to soberly evaluate because we don't want to reap from this bad habit in marriage. Even more so, we don't want to sow to unbiblical thinking and thus reap a harvest of bitterness, irrespective of whether or not we get married. Such deeds fail to glorify our gracious Lord!