Finding Fulfillment in Following God

Are you looking for “marital bliss”? Have you done all the research and read all the books and can’t figure out why you are still struggling?

Yep, me too.

The Secret to Marital Bliss?

Let me tell you a secret, we are all struggling. No one has that ephimeral marital bliss they all talk about, and everybody strives for, and everybody thinks everybody else must have.

I hate to break it to you, but we are all human, we all struggle with the same crosses  and the same flaws no matter how “holy” we are or how “compatible”, how much chemistry we have, or how much we love “geeking out” over the same things.

But we can find a level of genuine enjoyment and fun in marriage if we manage to go to the cross first.

Broken Vessels

My husband and I went to a marriage retreat a few years ago where we were given a broken clay pot with a candle inside. It was meant to be a symbol of how God uses marriage. The idea is that every single couple is broken, but instead of being ashamed or trying to hide or cover up the brokenness, God plans to use it to allow His light to shine through.

broken vessel

I thought it was a beautiful analogy at the time, especially since we had just experienced our very first genuine marital scar, but I also naively thought that somehow my husband and I were an exception to the norm. Everyone else seemed to be having major issues, and ours were so petty and minor.

I spent that retreat thanking God for loving us in a special way and protecting us from all the heartbreak of “normal” married life.

Fast forward a few years….

Yeah, we are normal. The battle scars and war wounds are more numerous now. I’m starting to recognize in us everything I never thought I would experience, once upon a time.

No, Dear Heart, there is no such thing as earthly marital bliss, as we wish it. Pure bliss is unfortunately reserved for heaven (Read: Longing).

But, we can be happy. In fact, that is His greatest desire for us. We can still love fiercely, and recover stronger and more beautiful than ever before. Take courage, my darling, God desires you to have a relationship that mirrors his desire for you…

In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. – John 16:33

Enter Love and Respect

I love the quote:

A perfect marriage is just two imperfect people who refuse to give up on each other.

Which brings me to the entire point of this article.

One of the most impactful marriage books I ever read was Love and Respect by Dr Emerson Eggerichs.

As I read it out loud to my husband on road trips I would think to myself,

Wow, I hope he’s listening to this, he’s really going to understand the way I tick now.

Problem is, as I read it, he heard all the parts that described him perfectly and would say to himself

Wow, I hope she’s listening to this, she’s really going to understand the way I tick now.

And we got to the end with so much hope and promise, only to fall back into the same difficulties and patterns…. Wondering “Why? What did we do wrong after reading such a great book?”

The Missing Link in Love and Respect

Turns out, I believe there is a missing link. Forget the pink glasses and the blue glasses for a moment (no matter how real they are) and think about this…

Instead of comparing men and women to Peanut Butter and Jelly (ie. totally different but make a great combo), the much better analogy is that we are two sides of the same coin.

Fundamentally, underneath all our differences, at our very core, both man and woman are the same, human and made in the image of God. We have the same source and origin and the same final goal, and the same path to get there, through the cross, through imitation of Christ who is the way the truth and the life. (John 14:6)

Yes, we are opposite sides of the same coin, but it is still the same coin.

Our opposite factor is what contributes the the pink and blue glasses effect and why it seems that we both “need” something different. But, I would argue that when you make it seem like we need something different, what the other person needs feels completely foreign to us… so foreign in fact that we don’t even realize that we don’t know what it means.

How are you supposed to live something you don’t even understand? (Especially if you don’t know you don’t understand it?)

Isn’t it better to try to find common ground and common vocabulary than to explain how different we are?

This is our missing link between Love and Respect and the secret to “Marital Bliss” on Earth.


This means ignoring the unimportant so that you can focus again on what really matters (Love and Respect).

Practical Tips:

  • Look past disheveled hair, scruffy beards, wardrobe issues, and unshaved legs.  Seriously, don’t even mention them. (Just keep yourself nice – lead by example – and mention all the positive things, subliminal motivation here!)
  • Get better at holding your tongue and really discerning which battles should actually be fought.
  • Kiss them even when their breath stinks – and don’t wrinkle your nose.
  • Forgive them when they don’t deserve it. marital bliss, love and respect, forgiveness
  • Make the first move even if it might mean rejection – or let them have their space when they need it – but don’t run away. Be there in awkward silent solidarity without doing anything else – even if it feels like a waste of time, or you don’t even know what you are in solidarity with.
  • Stop nitpicking their quirks. Smile instead at the crazy, imperfect person you chose to spend your life with. Learn to savor them again.

And the biggest ones!

  • Dedicate your worries to God. You cannot control your spouse. There is nothing you can say that will make them eat better, use their time better or spend money more wisely. Once you have said your piece, you MUST give it to Him and ask Him to convict them.
  • Choose them again when they fall. Accept them in their struggle. Don’t bring it up. Don’t talk about it.  Fiercely protect their sensitive heart.
  • See the best in them and they will desire to live up to your vision. Be Patient.
  • Choose to love them for the person they are meant to be, if you are having trouble loving them for who they are.
  • And then FAST . Offer every discomfort, every concern, every everything that God will move heaven and Earth to get through to them… And be prepared to be wrong, be prepared for your prayer, if it is genuine, to do the opposite of what you intended to happen…. Maybe you will be the one to change.

Read also:

What Love and Respect Look Like

Notice:  You feel most loved when he shows you he accepts you even in the throes of hormones, and forgives you even when you hurt him.

He feels most respected when you choose to accept him for who he is, even at his least respectable.


So it’s not about whether or not our spouse is worthy of love or respect. It’s not about if they’ve earned it or not.

Make the first move consistently and gone will be the defensiveness, the hiding, the silence, the sidelining, the curt replies, the wondering if everything is ok.

It will require you to go to Calvary first. YOU have to follow the WAY first.  (Sorry, I know it’s not fair, but no one said love was fair. In fact, love is NOT fair.  That’s what makes it love.)

If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount.But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.   – Luke 6:32-36

But Love is Possible

Accept the unacceptable, embrace the uncontrollable, love unconditionally, and trust in the One who can do miracles.

Struggling married couples are a special intention on our family’s prayer list every night. If you are having trouble, click any of the links in this post for more information on that topic or comment below if there is any way I can help you get just a little closer to that “Marital Bliss”.

Blessings and Solidarity!

Read also:

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#togetherinthetrenches #ParticularlyCALLED #IamCALLED

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