Hello friends, Happy Thursday! Today I have the immense pleasure of introducing you to one of my very dearest friends, Rebekah Hargraves, who has written a guest post on marriage for us. I have enjoyed being able to share a guest post with you once a month so far in 2021 (which I know is only two posts so far) but I am so thankful for these women and excited for what is to come! Without further ado, please enjoy Rebekah’s message as she shares her heart on marriage.
As I write these words, I am one month away from my seventh wedding anniversary. That is so hard for me to believe! As I think back over the last seven years, I see so clearly just how much the Lord has worked in my and my husband’s hearts to grow, sanctify, and teach us all along the way. I’m so grateful that He has been so kind and gracious to do so, and I thought I would share with you today some of those lessons I, personally, have learned throughout the duration of my marriage thus far. My hope and prayer is that these lessons would help and encourage you as they have me!
There is a beautiful equality between you and your husband.
When I got married, I had the mistaken belief that there existed a God-ordained hierarchy in my marriage between me and my husband. As a result, we weren’t really on an equal plane when we got married, because I believed that I had been created in such a way as to be subordinate him. Because of this, we were not true partners in marriage at the beginning. But when I finally came to grasp the truth of a beautiful verse in 1 Peter, all that changed for me. First Peter 3:7 says,
“Husbands, in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with a weaker partner, showing them honor as coheirs of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.”
As you study the Greek behind this passage, you realize that being described as a “weaker partner” (or “weaker vessel”, depending on your translation) has nothing to do with women being inferior, and everything to do with women being precious in the eyes of God and their husbands. Furthermore, the same Greek word Paul used when discussing the honor we are to show the elders of the church is the same Greek word used here for husbands showing their wives honor. And that beautiful phrase at the end ties it all up and changed my understanding forever – my husband and I are “coheirs of the grace of life”. We are co-heirs! There is no
hierarchy here, and that is a beautiful thing to be celebrated!
The joy of marriage is found in each spouse willingly giving up their own desires for the sake of the other.
Now lest someone take what I just said to somehow mean that I do not believe in wives submitting to their husbands, let me assure you that that is not at all the case! Wives are to submit to their husbands, but contrary to my belief when I first got married, this truth does not mean we as wives are subordinate to our husbands or that our husbands are freely able to “lord it over” us. Far from it!
Right after Paul says wives are to submit to their husbands (which comes after he tells everyone in the church that they are to submit to one another – see Ephesians 5:21!), Paul then says this to husbands: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her” (verse 25). When you cross-reference this passage with 1 Corinthians 13 where Paul actually defines what love is like, we see that in order for husbands to obey this command, they must not insist on their own way. A God-honoring marriage is a marriage where each spouse is intentional about loving well the other and selflessly giving up their own desires for the well being of the other.
You are your own family now; act like it.
I have observed, as well as experienced firsthand, the disaster which comes from a man or woman being unwilling to “leave and cleave”. I have also seen the disastrous results of parents and in-laws who overstep their boundaries and insist on still trying to control their adult children. This is unbiblical and wrong. When you get married, you are to leave and cleave to your spouse and act like you really are the brand new family unit God has made you to be. Respectfully honor parents and in-laws, yes. But do not act as perpetual children or allow them to treat you as such. Doing so will only lead to problems in your marriage.
You are each responsible for your own sin issues.
Neither husband nor wife will stand before God and be held responsible for their spouse’s sins. Instead, Paul tells us in Galatians 6 that we will stand before God alone and give an account for our own failures. Yes, we can influence our spouses, we can pray for them, we can seek to be as iron that sharpens iron for them, but we will not be held responsible for what they do. We will only be held responsible for what we do – which means it’s time to lay down the burden of being the naggy wife who believes it to be her mission to be the Holy Spirit in her husband’s life!
Communication really is key!
You hear about the importance of communication when you’re in pre-marital counseling, but it isn’t until you’ve been married for a little bit that you realize your counselor actually wasn’t exaggerating! Good, open, honest, respectful communication truly is one of the most important aspects of a healthy marriage. James tells us in the first chapter of his book that we are to be slow to speak and quick to listen (see verse 19), and good listening skills are a crucial aspect of
good communication. I have learned over the past seven years that if I don’t want to jump to unfair conclusions about my husband and why he does what he does or thinks what he thinks, then I am going to have to ask good questions and be willing to listen closely. I need to be slow to defend myself and my position and quick to listen to his. I need to be slow to assume the worst and quick to realize that I do not know what is in his heart and what his motivations are until he tells me.
In addition to listening well, we also must speak well. We must be willing to be vulnerable, open, and honest about where we are coming from – though always in a humble and unconfrontational manner. In order to not judge our spouses unfairly and to not inadvertently lead to massive misunderstandings, we must be given to good communication.
Marriage is meant to be fun!
Too many spouses allow the busyness of life to suck the joy, fun, and flirtation right out of marriage. This is incredibly sad. Now, I completely understand how challenging life is and how hard marriage can be. We had a season when we had two kiddos under two – I remember the hardship and exhaustion of those days! But we cannot allow prolonged seasons of busyness, burdens, trials, or hardships to suck the fun out of our marriages. We must be intentional about still being friends with our spouse, still being silly, still being flirty, and, plain and simple, still just enjoy one another’s company! It’s important and it’s worth whatever it takes to prioritize that fun.
Intimacy in marriage truly is a gift.
Now I know that this topic is not every woman’s favorite topic to discuss. I get that. The culture we live in can lead to a lot of baggage in the sex department, making intimacy something we do not enjoy, appreciate, initiate, or treasure as we ought. When this is the case, we need to pray for healing and freedom. The Song of Solomon portrays intimacy in marriage as something that both husband and wife
enjoy, look forward to, treasure, and initiate. And I can honestly say that that is precisely what intimacy has become in my marriage over the past seven years. I got married at 21 and entered into marriage as a shy, self-conscious young woman. I am not that same person anymore (and my husband is rather happy about it 😉 )! I no longer have any qualms about initiating something with my husband. I no longer have the wrong idea (that is, sadly, incredibly pervasive in the church) that sex is just for men or for the purpose of meeting a man’s needs. Women have needs and desires, too, and beyond just that, sex in marriage is one of the sweetest ways for
two spouses to be brought closer in every sense of the word. I firmly believe God uses intimacy in marriage as one of the number one ways He softens each spouse’s heart towards the other, deepens their love, tenderness, and affection for one another, and strengthens the marriage itself.
I’m sure that if I sat here a while longer I could come up with even more lessons the Lord has graciously taught me as a wife over the years. But those seven are definitely the ones that come to the forefront of my mind and have had the greatest impact on my marriage for the better. I pray that something I have learned during the going-on seven years of my own marriage can serve you well in yours! God bless you!
Rebekah Hargraves is a wife, homeschooling mama of two littles, blogger, podcaster, and author whose passion is to edify, equip, and encourage women in their journey of biblical womanhood, particularly with an emphasis on the gospel and its implications for everyday life. Rebekah’s first book Lies Moms Believe (And How the Gospel Refutes Them) released the fall of 2017, and the Lies Moms Believe the Companion Bible Study came out the following spring. Since then, Rebekah has written Advent and Lent devotional studies for women, co-authored a book on walking by the Spirit and living the Spirit-filled life, and most recently co-authored a book on friendship. When she isn’t busy homeschooling, writing, or podcasting, you can find her with her nose buried in a book, drinking copious amounts of tea and coffee, and listening to Celtic music. You can reach out to Rebekah on her website Hargraves Home and Hearth, on Instagram @rebekahhargraves, or on iTunes via The Home and Hearth podcast. She would love to hear from you!