How to Build a Great Marriage
For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. 1 Corinthians 7:4
I’ve often said that my drug addiction hasn’t been my greatest flaw in life. My addiction was only a symptom of my greatest flaw, which is this: I often impulsively do whatever I want. This might not be so bad if it only affected me. This flaw has, however, has spilled out into the lives of those around me. The closer anyone has been to me, the more they’ve been hurt by my actions. In the disastrous consequences of my addiction, my poor wife found herself at the epicenter of my selfishness.
In attempting to put our marriage back together, once I got sober, she said something I’ll never forget. You just do what you want without ever considering how it might affect me. I wanted to argue, but she was right. That was me. In my selfishness, I didn’t consider how my behavior affected her and even if I realized how it may hurt her, I just hid it from her. If she doesn’t know, it doesn’t matter. I still don’t do it perfectly, but in recovery now, I’ve had to learn to purposefully ask myself how my thoughts, words, and actions will affect her. This may be natural for some, but it’s not for me. Recovery has meant choosing not what I impulsively want, but that which is in the interest of the one I love the most.
This is the marriage principle that Paul taught in today’s passage. It’s a strange passage, in which Paul talks a lot about sex, but it’s worth the read. In it, he said that the wife doesn’t have authority over herself. Rather the husband does. Before you object, Paul also taught that the husband doesn’t have authority over himself either, but that his wife does.
A successful marriage isn’t two people going their own way. That’s a recipe for disaster and divorce. A great marriage is two people, surrendering their selfishness, trying to meet each other’s needs. True love isn’t simply a feeling but rather a way of life, in which both partners consider how their actions affects the other and then acting accordingly.
There are at least two difficulties with this plan. First, sacrifice is hard. We simply don’t like giving up our own way of doing things for someone else. Second, it takes two to make this work. One spouse may improve the marriage a little, but if the other spouse always takes, while never giving in return, it will be a miserable partnership for the giver. A great marriage takes two people who choose to live, not selfishly, but sacrificially, for the good of each other.