Inching up the Triangle
I’ve heard it described before that marriage is like a triangle with God at the summit. As the husband and wife get closer to God they necessarily get closer to each other. I like the illustration well enough. It is true that the man and the woman have their own, personal relationship to God, a relationship that in many cases existed before the wedding and one that can provide support during marriage.
But most of the Christians I fellowship with on a regular basis do not usually struggle to remember or attend to our individual access to God. “I have a relationship with Jesus Christ regardless of what happens around me.” That is true, and there is a proper way to emphasize that. It becomes a problem, though, when we value our individual access to God in such a way as to consider our spouse (or children) as an obstacle between us and God. We come to think of our husband or wife as a hurdle to get over, and then even as a hurdle to leave behind on our way to God.
There is a sense in which every man by himself and every woman by herself bears the image of God. But a married couple bear God’s image together. So your spouse–even your sinning, selfish, stand-offish, criticizing, fussy spouse–is less of a hindrance to Your fellowship with God and more of a reason for it. Christian couples should think correctly about their connection. In other words, it is not a time to congratulate yourself when you’ve inched closer to God on your side of the triangle but your spouse stays further back.
Husbands, if your wife is falling back, then your individual Christian growth (which you should pursue) will result in your loving sacrifice that, by grace, will win/woo your wife to come along. Likewise, wives, if your husband is falling back, then your individual Christian growth (which you should pursue) will result in joyful respect that will, by grace, push your husband further. Individual Christian growth that does not look to unite, even if that unity doesn’t happen overnight, is not growth in godlikeness. God unites us to Himself, He doesn’t just celebrate that He is better than us.