Christian marriage is meant to be a place in which love can flourish without fear. It is intended to create families into which children can be welcomed, to provide a secure and life-giving context for sexual relationship, and to set in place a nurturing and supportive relationship between husband and wife. It is meant to be a setting in which human beings grow together into a love that is shaped by God’s own love for his people.
But we live in a fallen world, and this does not happen automatically. The best of marriages are marked by shortcomings and imperfections. And when marriages go bad, they can go very bad indeed. The children of such marriages tend to be very deeply marked by the sorrow and suffering they have endured. They want so desperately to do better themselves and are often deeply skeptical as to whether better things are really possible.
In circumstances like these, how can we find the courage to love? One way to begin might be to remember the continuities between marriage and Christian life in general. Sometimes, what a marriage or any relationship needs is not an injection of big doses of excitement or inspiration. What it needs is more of the basic things that form the substance of the Christian life…love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control.