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Here’s a simple but very real truth: The more you rely on an earthly thing to satisfy you, the less satisfying it becomes. The more you rely on Jesus to satisfy you, the more satisfying He becomes. The more you rely on the perfect Son of God, the more you can love and be thankful for your imperfect spouse.

Set your mind on things that are above. When you set your mind on God, you are reminded of His love, grace, and control. He is strong. He is trustworthy. He is a well that never runs dry. He is never changing. He will never leave nor forsake you.

He will take you through everything life throws at you. He will use life’s pain and difficulties to mature you. He will cause all things to work together for your good. Because He is for you, no one can successfully come against you.

He will finish the work in you He started. He will always provide for your needs. Your inheritance is beyond comprehension and is secure. This life is fleeting, but you have an eternity of perfection with your Father in heaven.

When you set your mind on these things, you are less stressed, more settled, and life is put in perspective. You are shown there is a much bigger picture than the screen you can see right now. Your hope is not in this life. It is in the perfect life that has already been lived. Encouragement in Christ replaces discouragement with life and other people.

So, we fix our eyes on things above, not on things that are on earth. When you put your hope in a spouse, financial security, and/or happy and healthy children, you get more and more stressed as tough issues arise. A bad financial development. A struggling child. A depressed or angry spouse. A brushfire will always break out.

If you wait for this life to finally deliver, you will be waiting until you die. As soon as it seems like it is delivering, everything falls apart again. I’m an idealist and tend to live upset that things aren’t right. I must learn to rest and trust in CHRIST.

If we focus on earthly things, we will live in perpetual frustration. Things don’t always work out, and people don’t always act like they should. This has only been the case since the fall of Adam.

What will happen to your marriage when you set your mind on earthly things? You will find your spouse doesn’t compliment you enough, doesn’t appreciate you, doesn’t provide enough help, doesn’t desire you, and is either too passive or too demanding (or a bit of both).

Marilyn and I did an intense marriage study years ago. Each of us was asked to share our desires and needs. Then, we were told to focus on our spouse’s desires. As part of the study, I shared how much I love back rubs.

But after we returned home, guess what? I did not get more back rubs. I thought, “Now she knows, and she still doesn’t do it!” We had both shifted our focus to look to each other for satisfaction, something only Christ can deliver.

Christ is perfect, consistent, and full of grace. Your spouse is imperfect, unreliable, and can be critical and unkind. We learn not to put our hope in our spouse changing, but in our God who never changes. Frustration and anxiety are replaced with grace and peace.

We take first. We receive grace, love, and peace from Him. We take from Him, and then we give to our spouse. We allow what we have received to flow out of us for the benefit of others and the glory of God.

What your marriage needs is the fruit of the Spirit. A home full of peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, joy, and self-control does pretty well. This fruit, however, is received from God – none of those are achieved by the efforts of man. Only by abiding in Him can you bear fruit.

To receive from God, we must put ourselves in a posture to hear from God. This means making space in your life for reading Scripture, prayer, meditation, and silence and solitude. The disciplines don’t bring us peace, they put us in a position to receive it from God.

God is our Creator and Sustainer. If we do not seek provision from Him, we will not run this race well. In this way, we are like vehicles. If we don’t follow the manufacturer’s recommendations as to the correct oil and fuel for the vehicle, it will not run well. If we are not fueled by God’s grace, peace, and obedience to His word, our lives and marriages won’t run well either.

Once we receive, we give. Having received grace, peace, and sustenance from God, intentionally give the same to your spouse. You have been given favor and mercy despite ongoing sin. So give favor and love despite the ongoing struggles of your spouse.

Christ sets us free to thrive. With two spouses satisfied in God and not putting pressure on one another to be something they cannot be, the marriage is set free to thrive.

No longer does either spouse feel the responsibility for the happiness or joy of the other. Each spouse simply extends grace and intentionally invests in the marriage.

Two forgiven spouses forgive one another, and sin no longer has dominion over the marriage. God’s grace is put on display and God gets all the glory. A thriving marriage is a gift of grace from God, not a result of a spouse’s works.

The truth of Galatians 2:20 will now sustain the marriage. “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

The focus shifts from being satisfied by your spouse to laying down your life for your spouse. We think about how much we are loved by God and not on how we can be better loved by our spouse.