If you are married, on your wedding day you made a vow where you pledged your “faith, each to the other.”
But what is faithfulness in marriage?
Most people say faithfulness means not having sexual or emotional intimacy with anyone besides your spouse. And certainly that is a critical part of faithfulness.
But, believe it or not, it’s not the most important part.
Above all, being faithful to your spouse means that even when they have angered you or hurt your feelings, you refuse to believe they are a bad person. You “keep faith” in them.
I maintain faith in my wife by remembering who she is, that I love and care for her, and that she loves me too. And if I remember she loves me, I know she would never purposely do anything to hurt me.
This means no matter how hurt or upset I may be, I cling stubbornly to my belief that my wife is a great person. I refuse to allow my negative feelings to lead me to think she’s *trying* to hurt me, or that she’s intentionally setting me up to lose an argument or to look or feel like an idiot.
It sure can feel like it sometimes though, can’t it? In certain seasons of marriage, it can sometimes feel like you’re butting heads constantly. After a while you can easily start making highly toxic assumptions about your spouse:
- He must not really love me
- She loves it when I look stupid
- He doesn’t even want to talk to me
- She’s not even trying
- How could he/she do this to me?
- I’ve been a fool all along thinking they were going to come through
When you allow yourself to believe any of these things about your partner, you have gone from thinking they may have said or done a bad thing to believing they are a bad person, that their desire is to do you harm.
This is why it is so important to marry a good human being, one in whom your faith can be reasonably placed. Because if you are certain your spouse has ill will toward you, then only one of two things is possible. Either you are mistaken, or you married a jerk.*
This happens of course. Good people marry jerks all the time. And jerks marry other jerks. If you are engaged, and you are not absolutely certain that your partner is a deeply good human being who desires good things for you, turn around and run! And don’t stop until you fall into the arms of such a person.
Sometimes your spouse will lose faith in themselves.
They will have times where they aren’t sure if they are a good person.
When this happens, your job is to simply tell them what you know and have always known — that they are good, even if sometimes they don’t talk or act or feel like it. And their job is to do that for you.
But neither of you can do your job if you lose faith in one another, if you stop believing in each other’s good intentions.
So beyond sex, have you been faithful to your spouse? Or when things get tense, do you quickly start thinking they don’t care, and assuming bad things about them?
Keep the faith. The more you believe in your spouse’s goodness, the more you will see it in them.
*[Jerks are people too. You can care for them and have compassion for them. But you do not have to allow them into your life to spread their chaos.]