First, we want to share with you the wrong reasons to want a healthy marriage:
1. I want to be happy. While happiness is a by-product of a healthy marriage, it can never be the goal. Happiness is fleeting, especially if we’re grasping for it.
2. I want to feel better about myself. The focus should be on helping our spouse feel better about themselves–this is our job, and it is selfish to consider my needs above their needs.
3. I want my children to have a happy home. Our children must never be the main focus of why we do what we do in our marriage. This is elevating the parent-child relationship to a place God never intended it to be. We must remember our children will grow up and move away. Our marriage is for a lifetime.
4. I need to successful. If we’re driven to succeed in marriage like one is driven to succeed in business, there will most likely be a lack of grace-motivated encouragement. Success is measured by God differently than it is measured by us. We look at outward success and how we measure up to the standard, whereas God looks at the heart. Focus your attention inward and the outward will follow.
5. I crave the approval of others. Fear of man is one of those sins hard to define, but to those who are asking to see it, God will show them. If this is our main motivation for a healthy marriage, pleasing the opinions of others and/or seeking a good reputation, we are building on sand. Our marriage won’t endure when the storms of life come.
There is a fine line between the wrong reasons and the right reasons to desire a healthy marriage. This is why growing our marriage in the right way has to be done with an intentionality. If we are simply coasting, our marriage isn’t growing; it’s going downhill fast.
And now for the right reasons to counter the above wrong reasons:
1. I want to add to my spouse’s happiness by treating them with unselfish love and respect.
2. I want to be the best person I can be for the glory of God and for the good of our marriage.
3. I want my children to see modeled before them on a daily basis what a godly marriage looks like in a real and honest way. They will see our sin, but they will see us fight that sin and work together to grow in godliness.
4. I need to fulfill my vows before God and my spouse because He will hold me accountable to the promises I’ve made.
5. I have the approval of God based on the finished work of Christ alone. His thoughts toward me are all that matters. I must grow my marriage for the audience of One.
What do you think? What does it take to grow a healthy marriage?
I read this because I wanted to know the wrong reasons for being married. Interesting how those reasons where about the person themselves. And the right reasons where about your spouse. Thanks for that quick little devotional this morning.
You’re welcome. Sometimes it helps to see it this plainly. Glad you found it helpful!
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I think the wrong reasons to want a healthy marriage is an oxymoron. All those immature wrong reasons could not possibly make for a healthy marriage or any marriage for that matter. In fact, those reasons spell all out doom! The right reasons are definitely the healthy ones, including selfless godly aspects.
You’re exactly right, Michael. However, I think we can slip into doing one or more on the list without noticing because our default is always selfishness. This is why it is good to remind ourselves of who we are apart from the power of Christ at work in our hearts. It takes daily reminders because we daily tend to forget.
I have to admit, I’ve been guilty of those wrong reasons in the past. But I have matured in Christ since then and know better in my current marriage.
Aren’t we grateful that Christ is constantly changing us into His image? Thanks for sharing.
I hear so many people say they want to get married to be happy. But we should be getting married to bring happiness to the other person, among many many other things. I’m so glad you were able to distinguish the fine line between the wrong and right reasons. I also believe another right reason to get married is God’s design for us IS marriage – to be in relationship with one another to serve each other, bring glory to God, and enjoy God together!
I know a couple who is staying together just until the children grow up and leave the nest and it saddens me greatly. That should not be the principal reason to stay together – and I’m so glad you emphasized this. I hope and pray that this couple will realize that their reason is not a good one and is actually damaging to their children, and that they would first and foremost remember the vows they made to each other and work through their struggles with Christ-centeredness instead of self-centeredness.
What a sad story. Maybe the Lord will help you speak with them about their decision. Divorce is sometimes even harder on grown children. Being Christ-centered is the key to a healthy marriage, but it takes work. Something many couples didn’t realize until after they had made their vows. Thanks for making these excellent points!
Hi, there. Just came across your lists here and they really resonate with me, I agree so much with the intent here. However, I’m struggling with the first list, of the “wrong” reasons to want a “healthy” marriage, and I think it’s an issue of semantics? I think a better word choice, instead of wrong, might be “immature” or “unrealistic” reasons to stay or enter into marriage? For example, it’s not “wrong” to want to be happy, but it is immature and unrealistic to expect a relationship or another person to be able to provide or maintain my own happiness at all times.
It’s also “unrealistic” to stay in a marriage “just” for the sake of the children – whatever the environment, whether a split happens or not, it’s going to affect them – but it’s not “wrong” to want a “happy home” for your kids. There does need to be more than that, but the well-being of the kids should be kept in mind, even though they “grow up and move out.” My husband and I have been desperately struggling in our marriage for many months now. My hope and prayer is that we will grow to a point where we can demonstrate “good reason #3” and show our son that even though we sin and hurt each other, we reconcile and forgive through the grace of God, as my parents demonstrated for the most part. However, my MIL made the choice long ago (and several times since) to stay married to her controlling, verbally abusive husband, who was also controlling and verbally abusive to their son. My husband, at 32 years old and “grown up and moved out,” is still struggling with that decision and its ramifications – it affects our marriage today. He thinks his mother should have split long ago and his life would be better, but he has no idea how “the other choice” would have affected him either.
I don’t know… your lists make sense. I just think it’s more of a progression from immature to mature, unrealistic to real, and not wrong vs. right. This progression is something I’m praying for in my marriage. I’d like to think that I’ve “arrived” at list 2 and it’s just my husband that needs to “grow up,” but I know better.
Thank you for this well-thought out comment. You are right–the issue is more mature/immature than it is right/wrong, but I’m grateful that my poor use of semantics allowed you to provide such an excellent reply. We pray your marriage will continue to progress from list one to list two, whatever it is we call it. God is there to help you, better yet He promises He will never leave or forsake you. Now that’s a right reason to hope for a healthy marriage.
Blessings to you both,