By Matt Smethurst, The Gospel Coalition
The way to have a great marriage is by not focusing on marriage.
Not the sort of advice you’ll find on a bestseller rack near you.
In their new book, You and Me Forever: Marriage in Light of Eternity, Francis and Lisa Chan set out to reframe the entire way we think about relationships, marriage, and parenting. The marriage union is great, they observe, but it’s not forever. Therefore, we must approach this sacred relationship from the zoomed-out vantage point of eternity. And when we do, it changes everything.
I recently corresponded with the Chans about the chief problem in Christian marriages, must-have conversations, their message to singles, the kid factor, and more.
What’s the greatest problem you perceive in typical Christian marriages?
Forgetting the whole point of their existence. We’ve witnessed many singles fervently serve God until their marriage day, at which point one of two things happens: (1) they enjoy each other so much that they spend almost all their free time entertaining each other rather than serving God; or (2) they struggle in their relationship and spend their days arguing, going to counseling, and feeling disqualified from serving God. In either case, the couple no longer spend their time furthering the kingdom, but instead fixate on one another.
We must remember we weren’t created to merely enjoy ourselves. Colossians 1:16 declares that we were created by Christ and for Christ. Paul also warned that if we are not careful, marriage will keep us from securing “undivided devotion to the Lord” (1 Cor. 7:35). Too many couples make decisions based on the pursuit of pleasure rather than the pursuit of the kingdom. We too often don’t surrender and ask God what would be most effective. Instead, we live where we want, drive what we want, have as many kids as we want. And we somehow convince ourselves this isn’t selfishness because there are two of us involved now.