We got married in a fever… hotter than a pepper sprout…
Johnny Cash was a pretty great poet! And in his song about going to Jackson, he points out the way a lot of us got married. We didn’t have all the knowledge or experience we needed going in. How could we? We hadn’t been married yet, obviously.
We were nineteen when Angie and I tied the knot, and we’ve lived a pretty grand adventure. I could not have asked for a more ideal match. My wife has loved and healed and helped me in ways no one else on earth could ever understand. But we had to learn a lot of things the hard way.
The first decade was fairly smooth sailing in terms of our relationship. But under the surface, problems were beginning to simmer. I’m a stuffer – a tendency I didn’t know I possessed until all the junk I’d stuffed came boiling up to the surface. I’d bottled up resentment over things my wife didn’t even remember because of their seeming insignificance at the time.
We’re far better now. We walked through a long and difficult season of healing. We sought counseling. We repented. We mended and started fresh. She showed me grace, over and over, and experiencing God’s grace offered from a wonderful wife changed me from the inside out.
Looking back, I had to learn some things the hard way about marriage. I had believed some myths and embraced some lies. And as I talk with other men about marriage, I think these lies are pretty widespread and they’re wreaking havoc upon our society and upon the church. Let me address these one at a time…
Lie #1: Marriage will provide me the sense of identity I’ve been missing.
It’s vitally important that every man on the planet ultimately find his sense of identity – his definition of himself – through a proper understanding and acceptance of the redemptive power of the gospel. I am God’s child. I am a leader, called by God to attempt great things for his glory. But before I come to understand who I really am in relationship to my Creator and my Savior, I’m looking for a sense of identity somewhere else.
Because of where our society is and what Satan has done to manhood, too many men stand in the altar and say “I do” without knowing who the “I” really is in that declaration. We’ve found our identity in the affirmation of others, in the trophies we won playing sports, and in our jobs and careers. Most men haven’t discovered that their identity is intrinsically tied to their Creator.
There is a God, and you were his idea. He formed and fashioned you from the womb to be the man you are. You bear his image. You reflect to the world a God of intellect, emotions, and will. But because of sin, the image of God in us is marred. Our sense of identity is messed up and must now be redeemed by the God who gave his Son for our sins.
Some guys look for their identity in a gang. Others in the endless pursuit of more education. And tons of us define ourselves by whatever job title happens to bring home the bacon. And added to that mix is our hope that we’ll find a piece of our identity in marriage. This is who I am… she’ll complete me… and without her I’d never know who I really am…
See the danger? Let me put it a little more simply. My wife can’t bear the burden of giving me the sense of identity that God alone can grant. If I’m consistently struggling to know who I am, I can’t possibly expect my wife to have a deep sense of security and trust in me.
To carry it a little further and bring home the truth of this… My marriage will only be healthy when I have a healthy view of myself. So, get alone with God and figure out who you are!
- I am created in God’s image. (Genesis 1:27)
- I am a sinner, and God gives grace. (1 Timothy 1:8-16)
- When I repent and trust Jesus, I become brand new. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
- God is re-creating me in his image. (Ephesians 2:8-10)
- I am gifted, anointed, and called to serve others.
- I am a missionary, changing the world with the gospel.
- I am a leader, a prophet, and a pastor in my home.
And the list goes on. Your wife didn’t create you. Your wife can’t save you from your sins, or wipe away your guilt, or make you make good choices. She can’t fix you and the burden of keeping your sense of identity strong and healthy is a burden she was never meant to bear. It’s too much. It’s impossible, in fact, for anyone other than God to redeem and heal and save you, and to re-make you into the man he intends for you to be.
The Lies Men Believe About Marriage Series: