24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. 25 Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. 26 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and give no opportunity to the devil. 28 Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. 29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Conventional wisdom will say that a successful marriage must learn to compromise within the roles and expectations of the husband and wife. The danger of compromising in the marriage relationship is that it often quickly becomes a tit-for-tat nature of transaction between the husband and wife. It might start off well; the husband agrees to go to the ballet with his wife, while the wife then agrees to watch the entire Daytona 500 with her husband.
At first glance, this seems like a harmless way of two people simply trying to make the other one happy. However, as this pattern continues in the marriage, the scorekeeping rapidly becomes more and more difficult to track fairly between the couple. What may seem like a small compromise to the husband, may seem like a significant compromise to the wife, and vice versa.
Fortunately, God gives us better and clearer instructions on how to have a healthy and thriving marriage. In the excerpt above from the letter of Ephesians, the Apostle Paul essentially lists out many of the most basic traits of what a professing Christian should consist of. This list comes before Paul mentions the biblical roles for husbands and wives.
Interestingly, if husbands and wives are already faithfully committing themselves to living out the qualities in Ephesians in their marriages, they will already be excellent husbands and wives! Being godly husbands and wives actually have very little to do with husbands leading and wives submitting (Ephesians 5), because if they are not already exhibiting the basics of devout Christian living, they will be ill-equipped to fulfill their roles in their relationship.
Godly marriages thrive on CONFORMING to God’s standards for Christian living. We do this by “putting on the new-self” when we receive Christ by faith and are made a new creation for the purpose of carrying out the good works God has prepared beforehand for us.
When husbands and wives focus on conforming to God’s will for them in their marriage, there is no longer and need for compromise, because both individuals will not need to question whether their needs will be met in the relationship. When both individuals showing this kind of commitment to one another, sacrifices won’t really feel like sacrifices anymore; instead they will be seen as opportunities to willingly serve the other for the sake of pursuing a deeper intimacy with their spouse.
Take a look at the list of qualities in the excerpt from Ephesians: honesty, seeking reconciliation, no foul language, using words to encourage one another, doing away with bitterness, wrath, and anger, and finally…forgiving one another.
Don’t’ compromise in your marriage as a way of serving yourselves, but instead conform to Christ’s example set before us of serving one another and He has served us.