Want to grow? Try marriage.
No, seriously. Marriage is the absolutely best place to grow. I know some of you may think I’ve lost my mind. “Marriage,” you say, “is the last place I grow. It’s the place I cope, struggle, work to recover from.”
I understand that. But let’s begin with a quiz. Just give the first answer that comes to your mind.
- Who knows you better than anyone else?
- Who has seen you at your absolute worst?
- Who knows your darkest secrets?
- Who knows your worst character traits?
- Who has the greatest power to help you heal from emotional, relational, and even spiritual struggles?
While some may waffle a bit with their answers, most will answer with one person: their mate. Even in the worst of relational times, we long to be understood and accepted by our mate. When the chips are down, we want encouragement from our mate. When we feel the most insecure, we often want healing counsel from our mate.
But wait a minute. Isn’t your mate the one person on Earth you’re most likely to argue with? Aren’t they the one you may feel most vulnerable with during times of intense conflict? Isn’t your mate the person with whom you often don’t want to share your darkest secrets?
In spite of these questions, I have great news. Our mate is THE person God has given us to be a helpmate. A ‘helpmate,’ according to God, is a person able to speak into, and even bring healing to, our most vulnerable and wounded areas. More than any other person on the planet, your mate has the potential to bring healing through your relationship with him or her.
Shortly after God created the heavens and the earth, he placed man in the garden he created. While the garden was beautiful and abundant in every way, something was missing. God declared, “It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” (Genesis 2:18) Although enjoying the garden, I can imagine Adam being pretty excited about this new addition to creation.
The historical record is clear—humankind would not always live in harmony. They would struggle and battle with each other. They would hurt one another. Still, God’s goal for man and wife was that they would help each other, defer to each other in love, and build each other up. Marriage was the place designed for great things to happen.
So, in spite of the challenges you face, marriage is still an excellent place to grow. Consider the following:
- Marriage can be the place we cultivate transparency. Marriage may be a place we put down the heavy weight of our façade. No false persona and trying to be more than we are. This transparency has been proven to be an antidote to life’s stresses. Your mate may offer the opportunity to be fully known, understood, and accepted, and this is powerfully healing.
- Marriage can be the place where you cultivate vulnerability. Here, with the person who knows you better than anyone else, you can share your worst fears, deepest insecurities, and your most challenging struggles. Marriage, when functioning as God intended, is the safest place for you to share your most vulnerable self—and this is powerfully healing.
- Marriage is often the place where our character weaknesses are revealed and where we can work on them. Stress and challenge are the places where our weaknesses are exposed. If we pay attention, even in dark times we can learn and grow. While friendships offer a unique and critical component for healthy living, marriage is where our foibles and personality issues are exposed. Scripture encourages us to bear with one another’s weaknesses, (Romans 15:1) and there is no better place to do this than in marriage. No one knows what we need to work on like our mate, and they are in a unique position to be a powerful instrument of healing for those weaknesses.
- Marriage can be the place where we can offer encouragement where it is needed. While we may be angry with them, our mate needs something from us too. Again, Scripture challenges us to encourage and comfort others with the encouragement and comfort we have received (2 Corinthians 1:4). For many, the closest mission field is their home. We often enter marriage with a childhood filled with heartache, adolescence rife with struggle, and early married life filled with challenges.
- Marriage is the place designed by God to share our burdens. It has been said that a burden shared is a burden split in two. Scripture says that we are to bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2). We all long to cast our burdens, anxieties and concerns on a listening ear. Thankfully, we can do this within the sanctity of marriage. Marriage is indeed a place where we can lay our burdens down and feel restored.
No matter your circumstances (and I want to be clear that I never encourage tolerating abuse), might it be possible to view your challenges in a different way? Might your marriage be just the place, at least for now, to gain awareness of your strengths and weaknesses, and to grow? Seeing the mirror in your marriage puts an entirely new spin on marriage and the inherent advantages of married life, seeing your marriage as a place of opportunity, which it certainly can be.
If you want help getting your marriage to a place of encouragement and growth, we’re here for you! Learn more about what we offer at the Marriage Recovery Center by contacting our Client Care team or call us at (206) 219-0145 to find out more about our services.