Identity Relationships

Marriage-It’s Where Most Guys End Up

Alex woke up one Saturday morning to a wife and 3 kids in bed with him. “How did I get here?” he asked himself as he lie there half awake.  “Am I dreaming?” He reached over to discover, it was a real woman in bed and three kids sprawled out in and under the covers. Kids who resembled him a lot!  

He recalled being 19, dating this cute gal. That morphed into love and at 21 taking the infamous marriage plunge. Now 28, with three kids, a mini-van, and a mortgage, the single-guy still lurking in the crevices of his soul was crying out for attention. 

Family

Single guys eventually get to a point they want a family of their own. I recall being 21, getting hit with a very clear drive to find a wife, and start having kids!!  In Genesis 2, we read that God set things up for a man to eventually leave his parents and find a wife. Pro-creation is part and parcel of most men’s experience in their 20’s. 

“Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.” Genesis 2;24-25 ESV

Notice that God calls a man to leave his parents. Boys are meant to be at home. It’s when boys make the transition to manhood that the drive to leave and cleave increases.  That transition is far more than physiological. It’s more about their inner character. Their desire to take on not just the world, but to find their own way in life. Their own identity. Their unique Kingdom voice.

Kids in your 20’s

It happens!  Oneness in marriage leads to intimacy under the sheets; which often leads to pregnancies, birthings, and babies. Suddenly, a host of new emotions and responsibilities emerge that those early seasons of kidless marriage didn’t require. Now, you find yourself stumbling over toys in the living room, smushed bananas in the kitchen, and rubber duckies in the tub.

“Honey!  Ashton needs to get to his tee-ball game in 30 minutes. Can you run him over? Chloe is sick and I need to stay here. Oh, and by the way, when you come home, please stop by the store for some Pedialyte. We’re out again.  Do I need to text that to you so you remember?”  You grunt as you run out the door with your son in tow. You dawn your favorite ball cap on backward, a crumpled t-shirt while your boy changes from his jammies to his game shirt in the car, sucking down an applesauce mashup.

Now, before you throw up your hands and tell me that is not why you wanted to get married and have kids, keep in mind that part of your manhood journey is turning from self-focused singleness to a man of selflessness. You give your life for your family.  Not with some martyr mentality, but in a supernatural way that actually fuels you to enjoy those seasons of flurry and chaos.

Don’t Get Drunk

Statistically-speaking, 90% of the general adult population consumes some amount of alcohol on a regular basis. That includes many Christ-followers. In Ephesians, Paul knew that even amongst the Jesus followers, there was a tendency to get drunk. To check out and escape; even if for an evening or a weekend. Reality is there is something actually better that can fuel your life not to escape but embrace the new roles and responsibilities of having a family in your 20s’.  He is called the Holy Spirit. 

“And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit.” 

Ephesians 5:18 ESV

When you and your wife are filled with the Spirit, He, not you, is empowering your ability to love your spouse and kids. 

It might not change the fact you still have to run your son to his tee-ball game, or that your little girl is sick again, but it changes how you deal with it.  The biggest enemy of young marriages is self-centeredness.  Often, young wives engage in their new roles and responsibilities quicker than the man. He’s still crawling out of his self-focused single-mode, sometimes acting as a late teenage boy than the man who stood before God, family, and friends committing his entire being to love and marriage.

Grow Up!

A few verses after Paul contrasts drunkenness and being filled with the Holy Spirit, he goes into an excellent talk about marriage; husbands and wives. Interestingly, he starts it off with the two submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. 

“…submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Ephesians 5:21 ESV

Then, he dives into husbands loving their wives as Christ loves the church who gave himself up for her. When you look at all Christ did for us, you realize that the Gospel is the best example and supernatural reason for marriage. There is no way in you know where that I can truly love my wife apart from me being a man yielded to the Holy Spirit. In the same light, my wife cannot truly respect me (the way I receive love) unless she is a woman yielded to the Spirit. This is true whether you are married at 21, 29, or have been married for 45 years. 

Horrible, Good or Great

As Tim Keller explains in his book The Meaning of Marriage if neither you nor your spouse figures out how to yield to the Holy Spirit, you will have a horrible marriage. If one of you figures it out while the other doesn’t yield, you’ll have a manageably good marriage. But, if both of you learn the rhythm of living by the Spirit, it will lead to a great marriage.

Conversational Intimacy

One way to think about yielding to the Spirit is by asking God to father you as you go through life. There are many Christ-followers who attend church, carry their Bibles on Sundays, but are practical agnostics the rest of the week. Yielding to the Spirit is an intentional pursuit of an on-going relationship with your heavenly Father; in all and everything, including all aspects of being a husband and a dad. When the mini-van breaks down on the side of the highway and the kids are starving for McDonald’s.  When the toilet is clogged because little Johnny dropped his toy car down it again. When you are exhausted because your little girl was up all night with the crud. “God, father me in this. Help me hear you. Lead me and may I find your power to love my family through this chaos.”

It’s Not All Chaos

If you are a single guy wanting to marry someday, don’t conclude from what I’ve described above that marriage is all about one struggle to another. There are times when Johnny is a sweet boy, helpful, and cooperative. Little Chloe can look like an angelic cherub lying in her crib. They can say the sweetest things, give the biggest hugs and slobber kisses!  Your wife can look as hot as ever and all you can think of is making love again! Yes, it may be easier to be a Spirit-filled husband when circumstantially life is good, but keep in mind that there is no situation, no predicament, no relationship that the Spirit cannot work in and through. 

Unless the Lord calls you to celibacy, someday, one day, you’ll wake up with a wife and kids; and that will be a glorious thing!

Warrior On!

David Riffel is the Founder and Executive Director of www.Mentoring-Warriors.com. Having gone through his warrior years (18-30) essentially without a mentor, God has placed in him a heart for warriors, to come alongside them in various ways as they figure out life. David’s newly released book, Mentoring Warriors: Coming Alongside Young Men 18-30, outlines principles for mentoring and gives advice for warriors in six key areas of life: self-management, life skills, education/career, relationships, faith, and identity.

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