Even though school is out for the children, it is never out for us as adults. That is especially true for those of us who are married. The minute that we say 'I Do' at the altar, what we are really 'doing' is signing up for a lifelong learning experience--at least that is what it should be. At its core, marriage is an education in self-discovery and relationship building. For Christian couples, however, there is another element--Christ-likeness. Marriage is not for everyone. But, for those Christians who choose it, it is a sacrament--just like communion. It is a continuing reminder of who you are in relation to Christ. It is a continuous challenge that you must decrease in order that Christ may increase. It is an ongoing test in your own humility and self-sacrifice. And, frankly, it isn't easy. This is why so many Christian marriages are stuck in mediocrity. They simply refuse to do the necessary studying so that the tests of marriage become more easy. Take it from someone who has been married for decades, it does get easier but only if you take time to learn. Just like any education setting, marriage demands that you pass tests to grow as a couple or in your individual Christian walk.
As Christian couples, we must actively continue to learn what we need to know in order to be more successful in life. We are constantly being bombarded with new information and new products and skills that we have to learn.
But does this knowledge help us to become more like Christ?
Does it help us to have a greater witness for Christ to our families and our neighbors?
Does it propel you towards a marriage that glows with love and Christ?
One of the seminal ways Paul tells us to educate ourselves is captured in his letter to the Colossians, Colossians 3:18 -19 (MSG). He writes, 'Wives, understand and support your husbands by submitting to them in ways that honor the Master. Husbands, go all out in love for your wives. Don't take advantage of them. Paul instructs husbands and wives to know each other so they can better support and love them.
The key words here are 'know each other'. These are just three words but they are steeped in meaning. First, it is not unilateral. In other words, both spouses must commit to the education. Second, this is not a superficial take home test. No, this type of knowledge requires understanding. It takes time and attention. That is the only way to truly know each other. This command to 'know each other' is akin to graduate study where you specialize not general undergraduate education. In fact, you can even think of your marital education as a doctorate in spousology. Each of us has to specialize in understanding our spouse to truly know them the way that Christ commands. It is only by becoming a specialist (to get a “doctorate”) on our spouse that we can really support and love them like Christ wants us to.
So, consider these questions honestly.
Do you spend time studying your spouse?
Do you know what s/he did or struggled through as a child?
Do you know how s/he survived the struggles?
Do you know what triumphs s/he celebrates?
Do you know what makes her/him happy or sad?
Do you know her/his interest?
The implication of the Apostle Paul's instruction is clear. You can’t fully love someone if you don’t know them.
I urge you to schedule at least one night a month (a week is much better) to study each other. Seriously, decide on an area to research. Then, go out to dinner or dessert and talk
to each other about each other. It may sound silly. But, I guarantee it will incite a fresh conversation. I’m sure there are many areas of your lives that are waiting to be rediscovered.
Here are a few questions that you can use as a starting point in your discussions:
What were some of the struggles and triumphs you had at various stages of your life?
How did you meet your best friend?
What were some fun things you did together?
What were some fun things you did during the summer (or whatever season it currently
is) while growing up?
Tell your spouse about someone who has encouraged you?
This is one class that you cannot afford the fail because your very soul is at stake.
This great video from the movie Fireproof gives a vivid description of what it means to study your spouse.