The obligation of marriage is the overlooking…


So I’m waiting in a very slow moving line at the store and a woman behind me is talking on her cell phone about her marriage.

A bit too loudly.

And I didn’t mean to listen, but she was right behind me and there was no place to go.

Her tone was miffed, if not a bit demanding, and while I don’t remember all she had to say I recall a phrase she kept repeating.

We’re married and he’s obligated …

Now I’m not sure what her Mr. was supposed to be doing in their marriage, or maybe wasn’t doing, but the words got me thinking just what is the obligation of marriage?

In addition to upholding the wedding vows I like to think that the obligation of marriage {and I hate calling it an obligation because marriage is such a privilege and gift!} is the overlooking.


Overlooking those things that annoy and seeing the big picture of all that is good instead of nit picking on the little things that you don’t think are perfect.

Overlooking the pesky faults, occasional bad moods, the forgetting something important to you, or those moments when your spouse is frustrated and behaving less than their best self.

Overlooking your own wants, and sometimes needs, in order to bless your one-flesh other more than yourself. Marriage obligates you to step away from selfishness to lay down your life for another.

Covering over shortcomings with that warm and wonderful banner of love.

And perhaps the obligation of sharing your life with a spouse means going into marriage with both eyes wide open, understanding that your spouse is simply a man, or a woman, no more or less. Full of imperfections like you and like me.

Then keeping your eyes half-shut to those things that can drive you to distraction if you allow them to and zipping your lips when you feel like complaining or criticizing. {Yet in the overlooking, never excusing a spouse’s abuse!}

Absolutely the obligation of marriage is holding on to him or her while letting go of the trivial that may annoy or disappoint you.

Because you are far from perfect, too. Maybe even more so than your spouse?

We are all flawed.

And we all want and need to be loved and accepted. Safe in our partners embrace, knowing that no matter how we might stumble our mate will stand by us.

Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their efforts. For if either falls, his companion can lift him up; but pity the one who falls without another to lift him up. Also, if two lie down together, they can keep warm; but how can one person alone keep warm? And if someone overpowers one person, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not easily broken. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12


Yet all this overlooking cannot be accomplished outside of a relationship with God.

In Christ you can do all things, but without Him you will simply add additional burden to your marriage. And knowing that you cannot ever change your partner leads you to your knees, praying for grace to be the best spouse you can be. And your character growing more like Christ’s day by day.

For marriage is a crucible that creates.

Life together with your mate rubs off your own rough and grimy spots, making you shine like His Son.

And those bothersome things in your spouse that get under your skin?

They may very well be the tools that pick away at your own shortcomings. God uses them to make you more patient. Or kind. Or forgiving, understanding, accepting, gracious, loving.

More of whatever you are lacking so you can be more like Jesus.

Making your marriage reflect the kingdom of God.

In a much lovelier light…

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18 thoughts on “The obligation of marriage is the overlooking…

  1. Sheila your posts always talk to me! I don’t know, maybe there is in me a wife that is struggling with some things! I admit, I often focus my eyes on those little things that I don’t like a lot about my husband. And tend, to let that cause me bad feelings. I know I need desperately the help of God on that! Thanks for encouraging me today. I’m visiting you from #RaRalinkup, also sharing with you there! Have a blessed week!

    Tayrina from TGAWrites

    • Hi Tayrina — so glad my posts help you and your marriage! Thanks for encouraging me. And I think inside all of us wives is a woman who struggles with something pertaining to marriage. BUT GOD…and His grace…and us for each other in this common challenge. Blessings…

  2. Sheila, truth right here … “And those bothersome things in your spouse that get under your skin?
    They may very well be the tools that pick away at your own shortcomings.” So very true 🙂 Blessings!

  3. What an awkward situation to stand there and listen to that–but I know you handled it with grace 🙂 .
    It’s so important to remember that none of us (our spouses included) are perfect, so we aren’t let down later when people don’t act as we expect. We can learn to overlook what we perceive as flaws, or learn to love them.

    • It was indeed awkward, Deborah. Uncomfortably so…And yes, having no expectations about a spouse OR rather having the expectation that they — like us — are HUMAN goes a long way in loving them with patience and kindness always. Thanks for stopping by.

  4. “Covering over shortcomings with that warm and wonderful banner of love.” Oh yes, this! We are covered by a mantle of grace and wear a robe of righteousness only because Jesus died for us. He sets us free to live less selfishly. God’s luminous love is the oil we pour over all troubled waters. As we have received, so we can give out to others – and especially our spouse. There is so much truth here to ponder on! Thank you, Sheila, for keeping it real and helping us to make our marriages stronger by implementing the God-given things you share. Bless you, friend! 🙂 x

    • Thank you, Joy, and you are welcome. I am so grateful to God that He let’s me share…sometimes as I am learning!! He is such a good Father. And YES, we are FREE to live and love selflessly…we just need to keep CHOOSING His way over ours. Blessings and hugs…

  5. Wow, Sheila! Beautifully written and so very profoundly true! I’m going to be sharing this! Love it and your heart, girlfriend!

  6. Your words here pierced my heart. In seeking advice on marriage, I went to your blog. And here, God spoke to my heart. I’m not without sin, and I messed up. I so wish I could re-do the day today. I wish I could take things back that I said. Thank you for your words here. To remember to look past the silly little annoyances and look at the big picture. YES. I will.

    Much love to you!!!

    • Awww, dear Dana. I have no doubt that God loves you and He is pleased with your soft heart that is willing to work on changing. Never give up no matter how many times you stumble. I have fallen from grace much in my past life and even sometimes still, BUT GOD…He is so faithful and He loves His girls. While we can never take back what’s been said or done, or regain what has been lost, we can GO FORWARD wiser and more obedient and make each new tomorrow BETTER. You can do this!! And thanks so much for the kind words of encouragement. They touch my heart greatly, dear friend…Hugs.

  7. Yes! I’ve never thought about it like this before, but you’re on to something. Our obligation to our spouse is to overlook the things that bother US, and do all we can to build our spouse up. Other than that, I can’t think of another ‘obligation’ in marriage :).