21 And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. 22 For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23 For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church. 24 As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything. 25 For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her 26 to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word. 27 He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault. 28 In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man who loves his wife actually shows love for himself. 29 No one hates his own body but feeds and cares for it, just as Christ cares for the church.
Sadly today there are a lot of jokes and one-liners about marriage, probably because as marvelous as marriage is it can also be a major mess. In our current culture marriage is under attack. According to statistics over 50% of marriages end in conflict and divorce, and of those that do make it less than 10% actually achieve intimacy and oneness in their partnership. It was George Burns who said, “I was married by a judge. I should have asked for a jury.” Rodney Dangerfield, the man who gets no respect, says, “My wife and I were happy for twenty years. Then we met.” And Henny Youngman has said, “The secret of a happy marriage remains a secret.” Yet the secret to a happy marriage is not found in what society says it is found in scripture. The truth is marriage is a complex relationship, and perhaps the most intricate because marriage is the only relationship where God calls us to become one and commit till death do we part. Unfortunately, many fail to realize this when they say, “I do.” We have bought into what I call the happy Hollywood belief that love just magically happens. As a result we end up basing love on our feelings instead of faithfulness. We have become a people who fall into and fall out of love because unlike faithfulness feelings are fickle. We may think that the dynamics of a good marriage just happen, or that they are dependent on some mysterious blend of having the “right” people together. But the truth is when it comes to marriage the difference between a mess and a masterpiece has more to do with submission to the master. Unfortunately when marriages crumble many times we hear people say, they were just “wrong” for each other. More often than not, being right or wrong for someone depends not on some mysterious compatibility quotient, but on how willing and able we are to help meet our spouse’s needs. Scripture reminds us that success is the result of submission to the Spirit coupled with seeking to serve your spouse instead of serving self. I think the reason we have bought into this bogus belief that marital success rests more in finding the right person than being faithful, is that if it all falls apart we don’t have to take personal responsibility for the relational failure. If it’s based on compatibility then we are not culpable. The beauty of this belief system is that we are not to blame but the beast of this belief system is that we will always be left in pain. Believing that marital success depends on finding the perfect person is like chasing after a magic potion. It’s here in Ephesians 5 that scripture makes God’s commands for spouses very clear. Husbands are to love their wives and wives are to submit to, and respect, their husbands. I believe that one of the reasons marriages often end up more of a mess than a masterpiece is because we are using it as a means to try and satisfy our deep desire for security and significance instead of as a vehicle for service. Our two most basic human needs are for security and significance. Security is an awareness of being unconditionally and totally loved, where significance is the realization that I am valuable and that what I am doing is worthwhile. When we lack these two core needs we fail to function effectively in our marriage relationships. Now Security is generally of greater importance to women while significance is often of greater importance to men, yet having said that we need to understand that both are essential for every one of us. I think that one of our most basic problems in marriage is that we are look to the wrong source for security and significance. God never intended a wife to find her ultimate security in her husband, or for a husband to find his total significance through his relationship with his wife. Instead of trying to find our foundational security and significance in our spouse we should be trying to find it in the Savior. The truth is that our core needs can only be met through a relationship with God. That is why the Bible is filled with page after page that points to God’s unconditional love for his people. Soaking in scripture builds and solidifies our sense of security? We are loved by an unconditional and unending love, a love that we can never earn and a love that we never have to because it is a love that is freely given and a love that can never be lost. When we look to God to meet our need for security we will not be vulnerable, because He will never fail us. As Deuteronomy 33:27 says “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.” Are you looking to the Savior or your spouse for security? Not only does scripture speak to Gods love for us but also His constant involvement in our lives from the very moment of conception to our very last breath. We have a creator who has crafted us, gifted us, and prepared a plan for us, this is where scripture speaks to our significance? Romans12:4-6 says: “Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to us…” So here is the second question, are you looking to the Savior or your spouse for significance? Because God loves us unconditionally and is the only one who can truly love us this way, He is the only real source of security. Also because God created us, gifted us, and called us to serve in His kingdom our significance and self-worth must also be found in Him. Processing and practicing these truths will make an incredible impact on your marriage. When you realize that you are secure and significant already, then it frees you up to minister to your spouse instead of wasting energy building walls to try and protect your heart from hurt. Are you getting your sense of security and significance from God so that you can serve your spouse or are you still trying to get them to serve you?