Q and A with a Christ-centered couple
Hi everyone, welcome back to my blog. I hope we're all doing well with everything going on globally. Stay encouraged, you're hid in Christ in God. Listen to the authorities and stay safe. The application of faith and wisdom is not mutually exclusive. This week, I'm doing something different on this platform. It's sad that I see many unmarried people discouraged about the marriage institution based on the negative stories we hear daily.
Like someone once said, "Marriages are like flights. Thousands arrive safely daily but we only hear about the ones that crash." Just because you're not surrounded by positive marriages doesn't mean it's unrealistic. There are people flourishing in their marriage and you too can be one of them.
I reached out to a couple of my married friends whom I admire deeply and asked them some marriage-related questions. This week is all about Morin and Bolaji. I hope their story, journey and outlook on this beautiful institution inspires you to hold on to God's promises concerning your marital destiny.
Question 1: Different people say different things about how they knew their boyfriend or girlfriend will end up as their spouse. We’ve heard cases of “God told me explicitly”, “I felt the peace of mind’, “she did XYZ and that was confirmation” and the likes.
What would you say told you that she was your wife? What would you say told you that he was your husband?
Bolaji: Like any worthwhile investment decision, self-discovery and appraisal are a solid foundation to start with. Who and where am I, what do I believe, what are my values, and where do I want to be in the future, are some of the questions we need to ask and answer.
Secondly, understand your partner’s answers to these questions. It then becomes easier to carry out an appraisal of both sets of answers for compatibility. Immutable differences, if any, and changeable differences are identifiable. A decision can then be made.
Finally, just like any other investment decision, there would always be risks involved. What does a good investment manager do? From beginning to end, he/she tries to hedge their risk using various techniques. My advice is drawn from words I recently heard from Pastor Emmanuel Iren, “to choose a partner is to place a bet on the person’s future. Therefore, choosing without God is scary”. It is wise to seek direction.
Morin: For me, it was mainly the fact that we got along, and we had similar views on life. I mean I knew Bolaji was a believer and he loved God. So, everything I looked out for afterwards was a synergy between myself and him. Thankfully we had similar values on our faith, work, family and our worldview in general. The friendship we shared was also solid and there was a lot of clarity. He was quite clear on his intentions, so I was never confused or unsure of what we were doing. The intentionality and synergy made it obvious and I knew I really liked him as a person.
Question 2: Many people have this notion of marriage being the peak of one’s lifetime achievement. I don’t doubt that because it may be people’s reality. However, what would you say to people that think marriage is a utopia where everything is perfect and lovely?
Morin: Marriage is a beautiful thing, as originally designed by God and ideally for a believer marriage should allow you to grow and share our life with someone else while fulfilling purpose as a team.
I also see marriage as a major tool for and of sanctification! That being said, marriage forces you to learn, unlearn and mature very quickly if you ALLOW yourself to. So as regards to marriage being a place where everything is perfect and lovely, that is possible but it is really dependent on how willing you are to die to self daily and how willing you are to give love room in your heart and allow it to guide your attitude towards each other.
So essentially, marriage is beautiful, but it is not for babies or anyone who is not willing to grow or let go of any form of selfishness and bad habits.
Finally, you must truly find your self-worth and the very essence of who you are (in Christ) to fully enjoy and do marriage Gods way, if not you will find yourself drawn into marriage for the wrong reasons and you may end up being very disappointed or/and ill-prepared for it.
Question 3: So, for a long time now, submission or no submission has been an internal struggle on many people’s mind especially women. What would you say submission is for you in your marriage? Also, drop a tip for people currently struggling with this concept.
Bolaji: Ranked highly amongst the most out-of-context scripture is Ephesians 5:22. I’d say laziness or disingenuity is the cause of misrepresentation of this scripture. The questions we should be asking ourselves are, how did Christ become the head of the Church? Why is the Church in eternal submission to him? If we can sincerely answer these questions, we’d understand that submission is not a master and slave relationship, but one defined by endearing and reckless love, which constrains both parties to mutual respect. Love, submission, sacrifice, respect, long-suffering, and honesty are inextricably linked.
Question 4: So as believers, we honour God with our body by waiting till the after we say “I do’. What would you say helped you both make the wait is fun without getting into any trouble?
Morin & Bolaji: So for us, we decided to spend a lot of time talking and just getting to understand and know each other as a couple. We also spent time doing things we enjoyed with each other, just being friends and being silly was good enough. It was difficult for sure because we were attracted to each other, but we kept the end goal in view which was to wait until we got married to have sex. It was a no brainer.
Question 5: What advice will you give to young men and women in the wait? Especially the ones that don't have Christian married role models around them?
Morin: Okay I am not so sure of what the wait means here, but I will come at it from the angle of waiting for the right partner and also waiting with the right partner to explore each other physically and consummate your marriage 😉.
The wait for the right partner: I would say focus on yourself, God truly makes everything beautiful in his time. Life is in phases and it is amazing how those phases go by so quickly. When you are single your priorities are slightly different and you can invest a lot of your time developing yourself and making enriching decisions that will lead to growth in your spiritual walk, career and general wellbeing (I am not implying that these things can’t be done when married, but you have more time!). Invest in fully understanding who you are as a person and have a strong value system and worldview that emanates from the word. Don’t compromise and don’t settle for less in life generally. Have fun and build meaningful relationships as well.
It might not be easy but pray and stay focused on really enjoying your single season and make the best of it. The right person will come in due time, my husband always says victory loves preparation, I think it applies in this context as well, you want to secure, mature and stable when the right person comes, so you are complementing each other easily.
The wait to have sex: Being very clear on your stance at the beginning of the relationship is very important, I would also say it is never too late to start waiting and honouring God in your relationship regardless of whether you’ve been sexually active in the past or even in your present relationship. Don’t let the devil guilt trip you into feeling there is no point in starting now. I also believe that staying accountable to people you trust is very key, Bibi’s last post on dealing with sexual temptation captures my thoughts well. Click here to read about dealing with sexual desire.
Finally, be wise and be honest with yourself and your partner, there is no point putting yourselves in sticky situations where you are set up to slip. Don’t feel that you are stronger than you think you are haq haq haq! You don know warris going on…
Ps: Someone may be wondering how far is too far? But really the real conversation for us as believers should be how can I glorify God in my thoughts and actions towards this person not how much gratification can I get away with without going all the way. Again, the blog post which I read (link) was quite informative.
Question 6: What are the little things you do to make your marriage fun? What are some things you do to put a smile on your wife’s face?
Bolaji: I’d be the first to admit how “unfun” I am (that’s putting it mildly). I can be overly serious. However, I’ve had to improvise. I know my wife likes it when I goof around and make a genuine effort. We talk about the gospel a lot; we gist and play monopoly! There’s a lot more, but I’d leave it at this for now.
To put a smile on her face?? A lot o! I go out of my way! I’d give an example. I’ve never been good at buying gifts as I’d rather gift cash and let the person get what they really want. This year, I made sure I took out time (it was a struggle mehn!) to search for a fantastic Valentine’s Day gift for her. I had never done that! My MO was to give her money or take her out for dinner. I knew the gift would mean a lot to her, so I put in the effort.
Consistent in both answers is the willingness to get out of your comfort zone to put a smile on your partner’s face.
Question 7: Please share anything the Lord is laying on your hearts for those that desire to get married and those that are in unhappy marriages at this time.
Bolaji: It is very important to make a well-informed decision. Take time out to get informed about yourself, your partner, and the biblical institution of marriage. I can’t stress the biblical institution of marriage enough. Unfortunately, our part of the world is filled with ethnic, cultural, and pseudo-intellectual ideas on what marriage is or should be. You’d receive advice from different people. Some would be good, while some others would be antithetical to Christian values. Use your filter as you deem fit! Don’t be fooled by, “I have been married for 50 years, I know what I am saying”. There is no correlation between age and wisdom. Talk a lot with your partner and, most importantly, your Heavenly Father.
For anyone in an unhappy marriage, my sincere desire is for Joy to be restored in your home. It's popular knowledge that the passage of time can lead to irredeemable damage. Well, that’s as far from the truth as the east is from the west. We know the law was 430 years after the promise to Abraham. The fall of man in the garden of Eden was before the promise. The death of Christ on the cross was a lot of years after the law. So, you see, there was a lot of time between the fall of man and the death of Christ. Yet, Christ, by his death, perfectly and permanently, restored man back to God. Jesus has a track-record of mending broken relationships, so let’s allow Christ in our hearts, no matter the depth of the hurt or length of time. Introspection is also key. I am not sure I’ve seen anyone who is unable to improve an aspect of their life. There is no I in marriage (forget the English spelling!) we grow together, we make mistakes but never leave the other person on the ground.
Morin: For anyone with a desire to get married, I will say this again, God truly makes everything beautiful in its time and he never mismanages our lives. Focus on building yourself and truly understanding your identity in Christ and the love God has for you, God's love gives us security and significance and when you are confident in these two areas it becomes so much easier to be a better person and spouse. When we are absolutely sure of our security in God’s love and our significance to him and his purpose it becomes easier to love as Christ has loved and to forgive as he has forgiven because we do not fear rejection and we do not feel the need to isolate ourselves or self-preserve from our significant other when issues arise or when offence comes (because it will come, we are all work in progress). So, focus on being the best you can be with the knowledge of who you are and grow and learn as much as you can about marriage from Christ centres trusted sources. Let the word of God be you anchor not the traditions of men and societal norms.
For anyone who may feel unhappy in their marriage, I pray that the love of God will truly garrison your heart and teach you to fight for your marriage, as I said marriage is a sanctifying tool (please this does not mean condoning abusive behaviour or actions). I pray the Spirit of God at work in you reaches out to areas of your heart where you feel things are a lost cause or the situation seems hopeless. I pray for wisdom and strength to navigate through whatever feels wrong in your marriage.
Prayer is a powerful thing! pray for yourself, your spouse and speak over your marriage. Also, no man is an island, get help if you need help, there is nothing wrong with speaking to a trusted and credible marriage counsellor or therapist to navigate through difficult situations that seem hard to talk about or work on as a couple, it doesn’t make you a failure at marriage. It is also work looking out for areas where you can take personal responsibility for your growth, attitude and general response to situations in your marriage. Finally allow love to reign in your heart and take its full cause in your life. We are all learning and we are all growing, things will get better if you resolve in your heart to trust God to work through you to work on your marriage.
Colossians 3:12-14 So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offence. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.