Each marriage is different

These words from Gary Thomas were part of my devotions this morning:

“Different From the Rest”

Let me put a saying by nineteenth-century churchman Horace Bushnell in the language of marriage: “No married couple is ever called to be another. God has as many plans for married couples as He has couples; and, therefore, He never requires them to measure their life by any other couple.”

You comprise one-half of a unique couple. No other couple has your gifts, your weaknesses, your history, your dynamics, your children, your calling. There is great freedom in accepting our couple identity as it is: we might be strong in this area, weak in that, vulnerable here, impenetrable there, excelling in this, often failing in that, but we are a unique couple called forth by God to fulfill our unique purpose in this world.

God has established your home and your marriage, and that’s the life He wants you to live. Never look to other couples to measure your worth; look to God to fulfill your call. Don’t compare yourself with other couples to measure your happiness; compare your obedience with God’s design on your life to measure your faithfulness.

Become comfortable with your story, your identity as a couple. Relish it. Never compare it. Just be faithful to the unique vision God has given to the unique you (and that’s a plural you). God doesn’t need another couple just like one He already made. He is so much more creative than that. Rather, He wants to release and bless the unique couple that is you.

This goes along with my last post. It is encouraging and freeing not to feel the need to hold my marriage up to a standard set by anyone else, not to hold it up for comparison to other marriages, not to hold it up to what is written in marriage books. The “rules” some people apply to marriages (tasks must be arbitrarily divided along gender lines; communication must follow this format and these guidelines; wives need x,y,z while husbands need a,b,c; a good marriage requires this or that; etc.) do not apply to me — only God’s rules and standards, clearly stated in His Word apply. I can and should look to Him, to my husband, and to myself for the practical outworkings in my life and in my marriage.

That is not to say that others have nothing to offer. There is good advice out there, and it would be foolish to disregard it all. But it’s also foolish to try to shoehorn my marriage and myself into something my husband and I were never intended to fit.

Marriage requires our best. But it should not require us to become someone we are not. It’s a wonderful thing when we can accept ourselves for who we are, our spouses for who they are, and our marriages for what they are — and encourage that all live up to their full unique identities.