The spiritual foundation of Marriage-Reset are the teachings that God shared with the Israelites, i.e. the Bible. Should you find that some of the religious assumptions that underpin this post differ from yours, please bear with and continue to share in this exploration. You'll find that the conclusions drawn here should be acceptable to anyone who believes in God. In fact, even if you don't believe in God, the insights that follow should be of interest to any couple. Let me know if you agree.
Now, let's move on to some assumptions:
Assumption # 1: God is the Creator of space and time. All existence, in other words, the universe and whatever else may be, is a continuing manifestation of His will. (Please note: The use of the masculine gender merely follows convention. Of the many Hebrew names for God, the gender can be either male or female, depending on the characteristics the particular name in question evokes. So, for example, the word for God's 'Presence' in Hebrew is in the feminine.)
Assumption # 2: God, as a perfect being, is not affected in any way by what transpires within His creation.
Assumption # 3: God is so beyond us that we can't understand His essence, so we try to develop an understanding of God from his creations and how he relates to us.
Let's begin by seeking an understanding of what a relationship is in the first place. Dictionary.com defines a relationship as a connection between people. Technically, therefore, you have a connection to the cashier as you pay your bill but that wouldn't at all describe the depth of the meaningful relationships you have in your life. Wouldn't you say that a more relevant definition of a relationship between people is the sum of the interactions between two individuals that results in a heightened emotional state since they fill each other's needs to some extent?
In a healthy relationship there is give and take. Both people are affected by the connection. One of the greatest feelings you may experience is being needed by another person. Imagine that you are woken up in the middle of the night by your crying baby. You get out of bed wishing you could just sleep through the night. Instead you find yourself yet again trying to keep your eyes pried open while you feed your baby. As you look down at the little one, your gaze is returned by a big smile. Although you are tired, you feel 'like a millions dollars.'
How about this situation? Your spouse has invited the boss over but the house is messy. You know that as hard as they will try to tidy up and create a positive impression, there just isn't enough time to do a proper job. So what do you do? You pitch in. By the time your honored guest arrives, your house looks great. When the bell rings, your spouse walks over to the door. S/he stands their for a moment, turns around and looking straight at you, gives you a big appreciative smile that says that they couldn't have done it without you. Awesome.
But if God has no needs and is not affected by anything you could possibly do, how do you form a relationship with Him? What can you possibly give a being that is perfect in all regards and that needs absolutely nothing from you? Furthermore, if you only take but can't give, how can this relationship feel good for you?
So, does the fact that you are constantly taking from Him create a relationship? Yes. But this kind of a relationship seems infantile, back to being a fetus deriving all nourishment from its mother. Take, take, take. Yet people don't like to just take. Giving is what really feels good. If you don't believe this, then try this experiment: on a day when you are feeling blue, volunteer to help people who are less fortunate than you are. Before long, you will feel a whole lot better. A lot of that improvement in mood will be due to your giving to other people. You can even get that feeling just by listening to someone tell you about their life.
The Bible teaches us that there is one thing that God chose not to control. In creating us in His image, He gave us free will. We make choices. And your free will affects your life in more significant ways than having to make those difficult choices at the ice cream counter. Every day you can choose whether to control your frustration and take the time to re-explain something to your spouse. When your child drops and breaks another glass, you can yell or you can count to ten and use that time to remember that your child is a precious gift from God and a whole lot more important than a glass. Your ultimate choice is to allow God into your life. Do you accept His teachings? Are you as kind and as generous as you should be?
Your choices are the only thing that you can, in essence, give to Him. Anything else is already His. But can you overcome your temptations and do what He asks of you?
Now you can think about the question that started this post: how do you and your spouse serve God?
You can coordinate your efforts and use your collective free will to do acts of goodness to others. When you ask yourself, "What does God want of us right now?," you set the stage for taking the initiative and becoming a partner with God. He wants the world to be a great place. Now, in a sense, you can do what He can't do, ensure you live according to His guidance. By doing so, you also set an example for other couples to follow.
You can also serve God as a couple by consistently working to ensure that your marriage is as healthy, loving and supportive as possible. With this lofty and holy goal, even the individual work that you do to improve your and strengthen your marriage will merge into the work that the two of you can do together for others.
What I hope that we can all agree upon is that a happy, healthy marriage is a blessing. If you agree that God wants you to honor and love your spouse, speak gently to them and always remember that they are endowed with a holy soul. By being kind and loving to others, starting with your spouse, you are now a couple that is serving God.