How to Take Your Marriage from ‘Broken’ to ‘a Blessing’

JP Pokluda illustrates the mandate of marriage, the mission of marriage, and the mystery of marriage.

Years ago when our kids were younger, we got a swing to hang on the tree in our front yard. It was just a rope with a wooden disc, but my kids loved it. They’d spend hours at a time on it, just swinging and swinging.

One day some friends came over, and a child of theirs took a flying leap onto the swing and it broke. The rope snapped, and the swing — and the kid — dropped right to the ground.

Thankfully the child was okay and I was able to fix the swing, but you know what’s funny? After that fateful day, the swing lost all its allure with my kids. In fact, I couldn’t get them to play on it at all anymore. They were afraid of it because what was once a source of joy and security in a moment became breakable and something they should avoid.

If you think about it, this is the common view of marriage today. “If it’s bound to break, why bother?” The reason this is the common view of marriage is because we’re still getting the marriage thing all wrong.

I mean, think about it. Right now, at this moment in history, we have more books, sermons, and seminars than we ever have to help make our marriages great. But by and large, our marriages aren’t that great — even inside the church.

So what can we do about it? What does it take to change the narrative from marriage being something that’s bound to break to something that’s bound to bless?

We have to embrace the mandate of marriage, the mission of marriage, and the mystery of marriage.

The Mandate of Marriage: Submission and Sacrifice

Ephesians 5:22-26 says, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior…. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word….”

The word submit gets a bad rap inside the church today, but what’s ironic is that the Bible tells us up front that we won’t like it. One of the curses of the fall on Eve was, “Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you” (Genesis 3:16).

In other words, “Eve, you’re not going to want to submit to your husband.” In fact, the Hebrew word for “desire” really means, “You will desire to have your husband’s role in the marriage. You’re going to fight him for it.”

Wives have a tough hill to climb in submitting, but husbands have an equally tough hill to climb, too. They must sacrifice. As Ephesians 5:25 says, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her….”

Submitting and sacrificing are hard mandates that we naturally don’t want to fulfill. In fact, without the Holy Spirit’s help, they’re impossible to fulfill. But they are something we must strive for in marriage.

The Mission of Marriage: Sanctification Through Service

A lot of us have the notion that our spouse should love us just the way we are and have no expectation for us to grow or change. But marriage is all about growing and changing.

If you come into our church, for example, you are welcome. No matter who you are or what your struggle is, you’re welcome to worship with us. The reason you come to church is to be changed, so that’s what we’re going to call you to. We worship and attend church to become more like God. It’s the same way with marriage.

One winter night not too long ago, my wife and I had just gone to bed and right as I was about to fall asleep under our big, warm down comforter, she asked me, “Hey babe, would you mind getting me a glass of water? I’m really thirsty, but I’m too cold to get out of bed.”

In that moment, I knew I needed to put my wife’s needs before mine, but it was a struggle. It was cold, and I wanted to go to sleep! But I got out of bed and went and got her a glass of water.

That’s the heart of Ephesians 5:28, which says, “In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.”

Sanctification through service isn’t easy. It’s a daily laying down of my life for my wife. But in those moments when I’m sacrificing for her, I’m being changed and being made more like Christ as I put her needs above mine.

The Mystery of Marriage: It Showcases the Savior

When we think about marriage, most of us think about what Hollywood, the world, or others have taught us about marriage. But marriage is so much deeper than that. In fact, the apostle Paul calls it a “mystery” that showcases the Savior and puts the gospel on display.

That’s the path he is leading us down in Ephesians 5:31-32 when he says, “‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.”

The Bible begins with a wedding and ends with a wedding. The first is in Genesis 2:24, where it says, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”

The second wedding is in Revelation 19:6-7, where it says, “Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, ‘Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready.”

One marriage is temporary, and the other lasts forever. And our temporary marriages today are a foreshadow of the eternal marriage between Christ and his church.

Yes, marriage is hard when you bring two different people together. But the key to taking your marriage from “bound to break” to “bound to bless” is simple: Jesus. So start with him. Put his mandates, mission, and mystery first in your marriage and God will create in your marriage more enjoyment, fun, satisfaction, and fulfillment than you ever could imagine.

Learn more about how to become the husband you want to be through the BetterMan 11-week study.