Why Easter Matters to Marriage

One of my greatest faults that shows up too often in our marriage is my firstborn perfectionism.

When my husband tells a story but doesn’t get the details right, I barge in to correct him. Well, not publicly. But I file away the errors to sort out with him later.

I’ve also found plenty of necessary reasons to correct his mistakes in pronunciation or in how he eats. The mother in me fixes his hair, straightens his jacket, and points out that his socks are all wrong with those shoes.

I like to disguise it as helping. The problem is Dennis isn’t so easily tricked.

Maybe in your marriage you’re guilty of something more than consistent correcting. Admittedly, we all commit actions in our marriages that offend each other.

So we repeat a practice as worn and reliable as the ancient stone steps leading up to the temple in Jerusalem. We practice forgiveness.

I don’t like being wrong. I’m sure you don’t either. So asking forgiveness isn’t easy, even after over 40 years of marriage. It requires a choice to recognize my sin, confess it, and ask for understanding.

So I am grateful for Easter, and Jesus’ finished work on the cross, for making true forgiveness possible.

You see, Christian forgiveness is completely different from overlooking an offense or pretending it didn’t matter to you.  Forgiveness is healing; it is transformative.  It brings about a heart change that only Christ can accomplish.  And that makes all the difference in a marriage.

I recently sat across the table from a couple in their early 40s, who shared their story of infidelity. It was a crushing experience for both spouses. He felt deep regret. She felt deep betrayal. But even while they lived in this mix of emotions, they declared a determined commitment to choose to forgive and be reconciled.

I put my hands on theirs and said, “I am so very proud of you for choosing to believe nothing is impossible with God. You are courageously believing God can restore your marriage from these ashes.”

All three of us got teary-eyed.  “Most everyone is telling us to quit, but we want to believe God for restoration,” they admitted.

They are walking through the effects of sins and offenses that cannot be forgiven without the power of the cross.

Every marriage faces these impossible-to-overcome crises. The inevitable disappointments are sometimes small and sometimes monumental.  But Easter makes it possible to forgive any offense.

Christ died specifically for you. And Christ died specifically for your spouse. While you likely both believe this, understand that this means Christ has covered the sins in your marriage. Your sins. Your spouse’s sins.

If your sins are covered in Jesus’ forgiveness, the payment has been settled. Christ has taken on the suffering for your sins. And it is finished. So let the resentful, unforgiving wife forgive. Let the angry, unforgiving husband relent.

Jesus modeled seemingly impossible forgiveness when He said, while hanging on the cross, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

He chose God’s plan, refusing to quit.

He chose to keep His promises, instead of breaking them.

He chose to endure the pain, knowing joy was ahead.

He chose to love me as He suffered, because our reconciliation was near.

He chose to forgive, even though it was completely undeserved.

Easter shows us that if God can resurrect a dead Jesus—and He did!—He can resurrect dead marriages. If God can work all things together for good at the cross, He can work together seemingly impossible situations in our marriages for good.

In Ephesians 4:32 we are told, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”  Yet forgiveness isn’t natural. Reconciliation with a spouse who feels like a fierce enemy isn’t comfortable. When two people drift apart and choose their own ways—and sometimes even choose other people—restoration doesn’t seem possible.

But consider the ultimate impossibility: that a sinner, unclean, living in total rebellion to a holy God can be transformed and stamped “righteous,” “mine,” “new,” “white as snow.” 

That is what Christ has done for us. He can make the impossible parts in our marriages doable. He can use two humans—struggling to even decide how to discipline a child who scribbled toddler art on the bedroom wall— to display His unending, eternal, sanctifying, perfect love for mankind.

 

I would love to encourage you and your spouse to go to one of FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember marriage getaways. No matter where you are in your relationship, in a great place or in a tough spot, sign up to get solid biblical help & hope for your marriage. Find all available weekends here.

 

 

 

 

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23 thoughts on “Why Easter Matters to Marriage”

  1. Have struggled for years now in my marriage. I know I am not perfect by any means, but I have tried so hard to be loving and kind to my wife. During my darkest days of being let go of two jobs and leaning into my wife for comfort, she instead disconnected and had an emotional affair for two years.

    After the affair was discovered, she remained in the marriage and we went to counseling for two years, but that really didn’t change anything. We go to church together but never pray together. She never tells me she loves me and never holds hands, hugs, kisses or cuddles (which kills me because physical touch is my No. 1 love language).

    We are so disconnected and no matter how many years and tears of prayer, nothing ever seems to get any better. Not sure how much longer my heart and soul can hold out. I want so badly to be committed to my vows I made to my wife and before God, but I also want beauty from ashes and more than a lifeless, joyless, loveless and lonely marriage.

    1. Hello, Jack.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. I have been asked to reply on behalf of Barbara. First of all, I am very sorry to hear of the difficulties you have been facing in your marriage. Betrayal in a marriage can be devastating. It sounds like your wife is there physically but has remained emotionally disconnected.

      There are a few ministries to help couples after infidelity. Here are a couple:

      https://www.affairrecovery.com/

      https://marriagerestored.com/

      Here are two FamilyLife Today radio program series of restored marriages:

      http://familylifetoday.com/series/rebuilding-a-marriage-better-than-new/

      http://familylifetoday.com/series/avoiding-the-greener-grass-syndrome/

      I would also like to pray for you.

      Heavenly Father,
      Thank You for bringing Jack to our website. Thank You that we can come boldly to Your throne for mercy, grace and help in time of need. I ask that You would bring healing and restoration to his marriage. Help Him to trust in You through this difficult time. We know that nothing is impossible with You. In Jesus Name. Amen.

      Blessings,

      Bev Cooper

  2. God has restored our marriage and the work never ends even a decade later. Just adopted 2 girls and caught the roaming devil’s eye so the spiritual battle waged on. Great reminder and clear info to stay the course , run the race and fight the fight

  3. I needed this today! Andy & I are in a conflict over how much golf timr he can take. I soooooo needed this & have so much to learn
    Praise God for the internet & for amazing resources we can tap into like Barbara Rainey’s blog. Btw: I loved today’s FL broadcast. So wish I could be a stand in for your next video.

  4. I am struggling in a 44 years of marriage. I am a Christian, but my husband does not want anything to do with the church. He declares that he does not have to attend church to go to heaven. He thinks because he do not do anything wrong in his eyes that he is just as good as the “so call “ Christian. Over the years I have ask him to attend different church events with me. The answer is always “no”. When things does not go the way he likes I am the one that is at fault. He is not abusive. He is not affective anymore. After all these years I still want my husband to attend events with me. I am tired of being single but married. I have pray and I have pray for God to changed his heart. And still praying for our marriage. This message was encouraging.

    1. Hi, Patsy.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. I was asked to reply on behalf of Barbara. I hope to encourage you and offer some helpful resources for your situation.

      I am sorry that you are struggling in your marriage. Being in a marriage where you are at different levels of spiritual maturity is always a challenge. I am assuming that this has been the case from the start. Many times we think that we can change our spouse, but it is always a work of Holy Spirit. I have found that when I try to change my husband it only increases resistance.

      I think this is why the scriptures admonish wives to win their husbands over without words.

      1 Peter 3:1-2 The Passion Translation (TPT)
      The Marriage Relationship
      1 And now let me speak to the wives. Be devoted to your own husbands, so that even if some of them do not obey the Word of God, your kind conduct may win them over without you saying a thing. 2 For when they observe your pure, godly life before God, it will impact them deeply.

      This has not been easy for me by any means. I have learned to entrust myself to God, and focus on my relationship with Him, allowing God to change me first and foremost. If Holy Spirit wants me to say something, I say it in humility, but I make sure He wants me to say something first. I have learned to focus on all the things my husband does right and praise him for those things. When you do this, your husband will feel respected and will be drawn to you. That is one way that makes him feel loved.

      In regards to some helpful resources, you may enjoy this website. It is for wives that are in marriages such as yours. I hope it encourages you.
      Mismatched and Thriving

      Also, here are some FamilyLife Today programs that you may find pertinent to your situation.
      Unequally Yoked – Three Stories

      I’d also like to pray for you.

      Heavenly Father,
      Thank You for bringing Patsy to our website. I thank You that we can come boldly to Your throne for mercy, grace and help in time of need. I ask that You would help Patsy as she seeks to honor You in her marriage. I ask that You would release a spirit of healing and unity in their marriage, for where there is unity, You command the blessing. Make them one as You are one. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

      Blessings,

      Bev Cooper

  5. Dear Precious Barbara,

    Thank you for your honest transparency. Yes, after 40 years, I am finally ready to give up “helping” my husband and to practice loving him and doing him “good for the rest of his days.” If I can just treat him more and more the way I want to be treated and I can do it first and not wait for him to behave in any way how I have longed to have him be.

    I trust that in the ways I long for, my Heavenly Father through Jesus Christ will touch those places with His timely grace. Zephaniah 3:17:

    “The Lord your God is in your midst,
    A victorious warrior.
    He will exult over you with joy,
    He will be quiet in His love,
    He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.

    Blessings!

  6. WOW! What a blessing to have read this article. And I thought I was the only one struggling with perfectionism, fault finding and needing to be right. After 47 years of marriage, I find myself judging and criticizing my husband for insignificant things that a week later really wouldn’t matter. This article has helped me to do self-inventory and realize my own inadequacy….practice forgiveness….and ask for forgiveness.

  7. After 22 years of marriage, my wife and I had both stepped back from God. I was unfaithful to her and also demanded a divorce, which she reluctantly gave me. I later remarried, had another son, and divorced again. I sought God and found Him faithfully waiting at my side all along. After being divorced from the wife of my youth for 5 years, God has miraculously brought us back together. It has had it’s struggles but we are attending pastoral marriage counseling and gladly allowing the Lord his place in our lives. With God as the center and focus of our relationship, we will soon be planning our re-marriage.

    1. I am so very happy that my soon to be again husband, and I will be attending an upcoming Weekend to Remember in Anchorage, AK. As the Lord has made it His will and by His grace to bring us back together, I must say that the Lord must be in the center & given complete control of your marriage. The Lord has truly turn the ashes of a once beautiful marriage into yet another beautiful future. And yes, as this article states, it is all possible through forgiveness & loving as Jesus loves.

  8. Ouch! The part about correcting stories, color of socks (I mean, really, white crew socks to church?! sigh) , how he dresses, how he eats (fast and loud) – all of those hit me!! But he is a loving, faithful wonderful dad and husband…..hmmmmmm

  9. Thanks Barb. What an encouragement! I have so many couples that need to hear this beautiful message of forgiveness during this Easter.

  10. I’ve been separated from my husband for over two years while he’s been with another woman and they are now expecting a baby next month. I haven’t stopped praying for a miracle all this time. God has allowed this trial thet feels neverending and excruciating to really reveal Himself to me, calling me to fully surrender and trust Him which has also enabled me to forgive my husband and this other woman. It feels like the weight of the world lifted off my shoulders when I think of the load He carries for me so I do not have to worry about all the unknowns of the future. He’s completely taken over my heart and mind and I wouldn’t trade it for the world! The Lord has used this time to show me where I’m weak and where I need to be refined! Furthemore, He has provided so many opportunities for me to encourage many other women in similar situations & in turn they are a light to me as well! I’m incredibly thankful for seeing this article today as it affirms what God has whispered to me that it is not a mistake my wedding anniversary falls on Easter this year – as the article said, He can and will resurrect seemingly dead marriages. He is a God of the impossible and that brings hope and peace only found through Him! Thank you for your ministry!

  11. Martha Bustillos

    My husband left 2 years ago, yet I still believe God is doing a work in both of us during this time of healing. Seperation has been a time to reflect on who is really in control! Christ truth WINS!

  12. I’ve been really struggling in my marriage and praying we can find that forgiveness for one another. I bought a weekend to remember trip I my husband doesn’t want to go. Pray we will do whatever is in Gods will for us.

  13. Thank you, I love this message. Often in marriage we choose to pile up the wrongs to promote our “being right”. But none of that mattered to Him when he choses to love us, when he chose to die for our salvation, joy, our forgiveness of ourselves AND others. We can chose Christ, including in the place that can be the most painful and unforgiving – our home. His truth transcends all.

  14. Thank you Barbara. I too struggle with perfectionism & OCD tendencies. It’s understandable with things like home decor & wanting things to be ‘just so’ but when it spills over to our spouse, children & other relationships, it can be toxic.

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