Ask An Eastern Orthodox Christian: Restoring Your Marriage

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By Nicholas Damascus

How do I restore my marriage?

Ephesians 5:31-32  “For this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”  This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

In the Eastern Orthodox Church marriage is a sacred and holy mystery joining a man and a woman in union with God.  Their lives as individuals strive to surrender and serve one another, liken to a form of martyrdom, not as indentured servants, but in willing obedience of love for each other.  This is the expectation. This is definitely the struggle.

Luke 9:23   Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.

Marriage is a path to salvation where Christ is the one who unites us in this holy sacrament of marriage.  There are no vows by the participants for it is not a contract between two people.  Within this marital equality, there is order which the book of Ephesians best explains.

The iconic relationship between a man and a woman should be similar to the Bridegroom Christ who leads and loves His bride the church.  Did not Christ give His life for His bride the church?  Does not His church give back to Him the honor, worship, and glory?  

What makes God be is the communion of each person in the Trinity within each other yet retaining their individuality. Similarly, in the union of marriage the husband and wife are in communion as one, yet retain their individuality. 

Marriage can give us the ability to access a higher plain of growth, understanding, and experience to become something more than what we are.   Are you in communion with one another and living as one, or is it my car, my bank account, my money?       

The manifestation of God’s unconditional and infinite love within us is essential for one’s marriage to succeed.  Earthly conditional love fades and is as fleeting as temporal happiness of worldly things like possessions, profit, power, position, pleasure, and praise.  Divorces are rampant in our society today.

If your life is NOT Christ-centered who is constant, never changing, infinite in experience, eternal in self-giving, how can anyone have any stability or consistency in this ever-changing world let alone their marriage?

So to follow up how does one restore their marriage?  The condition of a person’s heart determines the outcome of one’s marriage.  If Christ lives within us, He can help all of us to transform the condition of our hearts not just to love, but to become love to one another.  If Christ is not present in one’s marriage, then I would say that it is just a relationship between two people.

Philippians 4:13  “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Galatians 2:20  “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

A personal note:  My biggest regret is that God gave me my wife Mary to take care of, to love and cherish and to lead and instruct.  I failed to recognize this too  late.  I was in my own prison of self-centeredness and found myself succumbing to my own passions and interests after 33 years of marriage and the blessings of three beautiful children.  It is only now that I have this vision and the insight and if I had it then it would have been a joy and a blessing in our marriage.  I hope this personal experience can help others perceive that ultimately it’s not about you it’s about us.  Blessings to you and yours.

Some challenging words on the epistle from St. John Chrysostom:

“If your spouse does not obey God’s law, you are not excused.  A wife should respect her husband even when he shows her no love, and a husband should love his wife even when she shows him no respect.  Then they will both be found to lack nothing since each has fulfilled the commandment given to him.”

Nicholas Damascus

About Nicholas Damascus

Nick Damascus is one who seeks to discover and apply the proverbial question of what is truth and wisdom, to fill that gaping hole, to become complete and to become realistically and synergistically functional. In an attempt to live the Christian life, which he says is a definite work in progress, he has discovered that he's created the Christ that fits his lifestyle and agrees with his ego (and boy what an ego, he says), carefully avoiding what God intended him to be.

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