“Is this all I can hope for in my marriage?”

I wonder how many marriages are “hanging in there” but there’s not much meeting of minds. In other words, there’s union but not much communion.

Husband and wife are wholeheartedly dedicated to keeping their union intact, but they have trouble sharing their innermost thoughts or being sensitive to each other’s needs. They’re almost on different wavelengths, where they never quite tune in to the other’s personality, humour and ideas about things. They aren’t upset by the same things either, so they have trouble expressing their real feelings for fear of making things worse.

So they both muddle through a relationship that’s wonderfully enduring but not tremendously satisfying. There’s a deep hunger for communion, but neither partner knows how to make it happen. They courageously avoid daydreaming about what they might have had instead, but on occasion they can’t help wondering if there could be more to their marriage than what they’ve got. And as they look into the future, perhaps the thought flits through their minds, “Is this all I can hope for in my marriage?”

That thought has crossed my mind – on behalf of my wife as well – because is what I provide for her all she can hope for in her marriage too? And that makes me feel woefully inadequate at times, because I know I can’t provide the communion I’m sure she longs for, and it hurts me that she’s had to settle for less. So I wondered if there was any help in Scripture and that’s when Colossians 1:8 came to mind, and the time when Paul expressed his delight to the Colossians on hearing “of your love in the Spirit.”

The report of their “love in the Spirit” had come from Epaphras, who couldn’t help noticing that something amazing was happening to people when they heard the gospel. First it was union, a shared “faith in Jesus Christ” (verse 4), but there was more. There was communion too, because Epaphras also mentioned “the love you have for all the saints.” This was love, he noticed, that enabled people of different backgrounds, different personalities, different ways of viewing things, different sensitivities, needs, wavelengths and humour, to love each other without those differences making any difference.

Ah, so this is what “love in the Spirit” provides; it’s love that makes differences make no difference. It doesn’t matter, therefore, how different a husband and wife are; the Spirit can provide communion for both of them, regardless. It happened to the Colossians. They didn’t even think about their differences. They just loved each other.

There is always hope in marriage, therefore, because of what the Spirit has yet to add to it.

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