When I was fifteen years old I met the man who would eventually become my husband. I remember spending countless hours in class daydreaming about our future together and doodling what would be my married name inside all my notebooks. Young and inexperienced, I placed so much of my hope during that season of life in what lay before me. I had no idea how hard it would actually be.
Fast forward a few years and things started to get real. I quickly learned how much my fears and insecurities would affect my marriage and how tirelessly Satan would try to feed on those fears and insecurities to drive a wedge between my husband and me.
What I’ve learned is that when we enter into marriage, we often wrongly expect our spouse to complete us – to be the other half that makes us a lovely, beautiful, whole thing. But the reality is that God’s design isn’t for two imperfect halves to come together to make a perfect whole. His design is to make two people whole and perfect through his grace, and then do a new and glorious thing in and through us once we are married.
When we look to our spouse to complete us, we put our hope somewhere where we will inevitably be disappointed. The Bible says, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 6:33, New International Version) It would be naïve for us to think we should never encounter challenges in our marriage, and when we look to our spouse for things we should only seek from God, we end up disappointed, jaded and fearful.
I propose that we allow God to change what we perceive the purpose of our marriage relationships to be. There are so many gifts and blessings that God intends to give us through marriage, but the purpose definitely isn’t something meant solely for our pleasure.
Marriage is an opportunity for us to cultivate a beautiful partnership that refines us and reflects the kind of sacrificial love that Jesus showed us – and that kind of love requires both bravery and vulnerability. It takes courage to follow Christ’s example and to love each other unconditionally as he first loved us. It requires responsibility and a commitment to keep choosing love over and over again. Sometimes it doesn’t make sense to choose to love our spouse despite the sin, despite the hurt and despite the challenges – especially when the world around us is telling us at every turn to run for the hills and do what will make us happy.
However, when we stop looking to our spouse to fulfill our needs and desires and start seeing them as a counterpart with whom to journey through life together, learning, supporting each other, encouraging each other and sacrificially loving each other, we are able to keep the flame of hope alive. This starts by choosing to place our hope in the one who is able to sustain and steward that hope well - the one who wants nothing but the best for us and promises never to leave or forsake us.
The keys to a thriving, growing, maturing marriage relationship are real, true, sacrificial and unconditional love, vulnerable and transparent communication, humility and perseverance. In order to make sure you aren’t leaving weak spots where Satan can sneak his way in, we must take care to place our hope and trust in God and ask him to strengthen us against the coming attacks we will face.
Here are a few ways we can practically deal with fear and insecurity in our marriages:
1. Identify what your fears and insecurities are
I suggest regularly taking time to journal your hopes, thoughts, worries and fears in order to know yourself better. One of the most dangerous places to be is unaware of what is actually going on inside our minds or hearts. By acknowledging and owning our fears and insecurities, we are then empowered to do something proactively with them.
2. Share your fears and insecurities with God
There is no one better to be real, raw and vulnerable with than the very creator of our souls. We will never surprise him and he wants nothing more than to work everything you will face in life for your good. He also promises to give us exactly what we need when we need it, so we needn’t fear what’s to come or look elsewhere for what only God can supply. “Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” (John 6:35, NIV)
3. Talk through your fears and insecurities with your husband
Lastly, and I know this is a tough one, but sharing your fears with your husband can be an amazing birthing ground of intimacy in your marriage. God can use our vulnerability to produce the kind of sustaining intimacy that will draw you closer and make you both stronger, both separately and together.
Just remember to be “joyful in hope, patient in affliction and faithful in prayer.” (Romans 12:12, NIV) When we place our hope and trust in God, there will always be hope for our marriages.