Recently, I’ve been asked these question by several people:
“How do I love the Lord first, and keep loving the Lord, more than my husband?”
or “How can I keep from getting distracted in my relationship and keep the Lord first?”
So I thought I would do my best to answer it this morning, according to what the Lord has taught and shown throughout my limited 12+ years of marriage. There may be other tips and tricks, but for me, this has been the foundation.
Firstly, I think this is totally normal and natural. You start to fall in love with someone, they fall in love with you. You love to spend time together. It’s so joyful and fun to be in each other’s presence, that you begin to forget about the One you used to so enjoy being with. It’s so normal and natural that the Bible talks about it. In Genesis 3:16, after Adam and Eve sin, her “curse” is that “her desire will be for her husband” So this feeling of wanting to be with your husband, desiring him, missing him - actually, this is something given by God. In a way, if it stays in its right order, it is really a protection for us, so that our hearts don’t long after something or someone else who we shouldn’t have.
Then there is another verse in 1 Corinthians 7:34, “but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, and how to please her husband.” I noticed this verse before I got married, and it caught my heart because I knew this was my experience. I used to only be concerned about pleasing the Lord, and now I was often thinking about pleasing my husband-to-be, and he took a lot of my time, and a big part of my heart. I was very aware of it. And even though I felt we were supposed to get married, I really struggled with this. But then I noticed the verse right after that, “This I say for your own benefit, not to hinder you - but to promote and secure undistracted devotion to the Lord …” This brought me a lot of encouragement, that maybe the Lord was telling me something so that I could be watchful and aware going into marriage.
The Lord loves marriage. He is the one who said from the beginning, “it is not good for man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18) and “two are better than one” (Ecclesiastes 4:9) and “he that has found a wife has found a good thing and obtained favor from the Lord” (Proverbs 18:22). Not to mention that fact that Christian marriage demonstrates - in a very visible way - Christ as the head, and the woman as his body, the church, right here on earth. So of course, God loves marriage. He wants you to be married. But, he knows us. He knows how weak our hearts are. And so, in 1 Corinthians 7 he gives us this warning, “not to hinder … but to promote undistracted devotion to the Lord.” So, he brings this thing out for us to notice.
And we’ve noticed it...that too easily our beloved can take over our thoughts. Excite our souls. And grab our time away from the Lord. So how do we overcome? How do we keep Christ first in our hearts?
Take daily time with the Lord. Alone. If you can pray together with your beloved, or read the bible together and talk about it, that's great. Most godly couples will tell you, this is such a blessing and so helpful to be able to do together in marriage. But don’t let that be your “quiet time” for the day. Before you come together to read or pray - first go to the Lord alone. Make it a regular routine in your day to go the Lord alone. If there are problems that you see, concerns you have, sins to confess, worries about the future - whether you feel like it or not, bring them to the Lord.
In early marriage, even on your honeymoon, you may not “feel” like being alone – but even then, deny yourself. Even for 30 minutes. And spend time alone with the Lord. From the beginning of your marriage, let Him be the rock you come to. Then, come together, pray together, read the word together. It will be so much more valuable if you cultivate this habit from the beginning. That way, when problems do arise – you may get angry, disappointed, sad, concerned about your spouse, or your marriage – you have already developed your habit of going to the Lord first.
Psalm 62 says, "my soul finds rest in God alone ... my expectation is from Him."
If your expectation to solve every situation that comes up in your marriage rests with your husband, you will quickly be discouraged. That's not fair to our husband. It's not how God intended it. And we will quickly be disappointed. But if you continue to cultivate that habit, to bring things first to the Lord, to hand things over to Him, to find rest in Him, to look to Him with expectation to solve problems and difficult situations... Then, everything stays in its rightful place. Maybe you get peace. Maybe the Lord fixes the situation without you saying a word (like Sarah, in 1 Peter 3:1). Maybe the Lord says, “talk to your husband about this.” Maybe the Lord says, “wait, not yet”. And so many problems are solved because you kept God first and held Him as your rock, instead of your husband.
Your husband should be your leader. Your hero. Your partner in everything. But let the Lord be your rock. In the beginning you may have to force time with the Lord. Your heart will desire after your husband. But he is a man. He may be a wonderful man. But there will be problems that come up that he can’t solve immediately. You will get hurt at times. You will feel lonely at times. You will feel overwhelmed at times. You will feel like nagging, whining, reminding, telling him all your worries, doubts, maybe even pointing out his sins or failures. But if we have cultivated a habit of bringing all of our cares and worries and concerns and first giving them to the Lord, we will keep the Lord in his rightful place, and give a much better wife to our husband.
I’m not saying hold your heart back from your husband. Or keep your worries to yourself. Not at all. You are sharing your lives together. You are two that have become one. You are joined spirit, soul, and body. You’re not meant to hold many things back from each other. But you are meant, in Christ, to “cast all your cares on HIM,” Him, meaning Christ. If you bring your worries, doubts, concerns, to the Lord first – you will save your marriage many troubles, and give God much glory as you see him work things out and keep your husband in his rightful spot, as #2 in your heart.
With love in Christ,