In the Greek fable Sisyphus is condemned to struggle and suffer by endlessly pushing a massive round stone up a steep hill only to have the stone fall back upon him near the summit of the hill and roll to the base of the steep hill. Sisyphus is condemned to repeat this task, which he does so on a seemingly endless loop for eternity. This fable in the modern context is used describe the meaning of laboring in vain.
In our series examining Marital and Family Crisis, many seem prone to laboring in vain. Anyone who has ever been married understands that there will be periods of suffering, turmoil, disagreement, unkindness, and confusion in the middle of marital conflict. Unchecked and unresolved, these feelings can destroy the fabric of our marriages. It feels almost impossible to be self-reflective during periods of marital crisis. However, when we are in those periods of quiet reflection, it is important to ask what is the cornerstone of our marriages.
Pop Culture and Secular Wisdom Make a Poor Cornerstone of Your Marriage.
Pop culture suggests that the cornerstone of your marriage should be the “self.” This false cornerstone is reinforced on a daily basis through media and the messaging that is pushed out. Songs, films, TV, and print media all urge each spouse in the marriage to “do what makes the individual happy.” As a result, we are saturated with phony ideals and a romanticized image of what should be the cornerstone of your marriage.
Unfortunately, secular wisdom isn’t much better. You may have heard well-meaning therapists or counselors claim things like “respect, maturity, compatibility, or even love” should be the cornerstones of your marriage. Like pop culture, this overemphasis on the feelings of each individual is a false cornerstone of your marriage. While these positive attributes are good byproducts of a solid cornerstone of your marriage, they are not in themselves the cornerstone that will maintain structural integrity for the marriage. In fact, overindulgence and/or a hyper focus on these feelings will often lead to marital drift because undoubtedly you will not “feel” the byproducts of love, respect, maturity, or compatibility at all times.
What Is the Cornerstone of Your Marriage?
A cornerstone is defined as “a stone that forms the base of a corner of a building, joining two walls.” For the two walls to have any structural integrity, there must be a strong cornerstone that connects the two walls together and solidifies them into one unit. You must have a strong cornerstone of your marriage as well. The Bible tells us that there is only one cornerstone, and that is Jesus Christ. Ephesians 2:20; 1 Peter 2:6.
During a recent lunch, a close personal friend shared with Drew and me one of his favorite Scripture verses with me, which really supports how vital Christ’s involvement is at the heart of our marriages, “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.” – Psalm 127:1. Think of it this way: If we don’t place Christ at the center of our marriage as our foundation (cornerstone), we are laboring in vain in our marriage.
Placing Christ as the cornerstone of your marriage instead of positive feelings is not a novel idea. In Matthew 7:24-27, we get a very clear picture of the difference between building something on a firm foundation and not a shifting foundation. “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”
In our marriages, we must have Christ as our cornerstone in order to join both spouses together into one unit that will provide structural integrity for the entire family. Christ, not our feelings, which can shift depending on a number of factors, must be the cornerstone of your marriage. Likewise, pop culture seems to change almost on a daily basis. It cannot serve as a firm foundation for our marriages. We need an immovable foundation that can survive the natural ups and downs of life. A foundation that can survive personal challenges, turmoil in our professional and personal lives, and the unexpected curve balls that life will throw at you is essential! Without the cornerstone of Christ, our marriages are simply unstable, not functional, and do not provide structural integrity for the entire family.
If You Find You Are Laboring in Vain, What Can You Do?
So, if we find that our marriage is laboring in vain or we think that we might have a faulty foundation, what should we do? Recognition is always the first step. Pray that the Lord would reveal to you exactly what is the cornerstone of your marriage and whether you are currently laboring in vain. If you believe that your answer is that your marriage is (or has) drifted from the cornerstone of Christ or is laboring in vain, it’s time for a course correction!
Recognize that “it’s not about you!” Marriage is not about you or your feelings. Our prayer for you is that you are not laboring in vain in your marriage. If you and your spouse have Christ as your cornerstone, the typical selfishness that can be symptomatic of marital discord can be avoided. Likewise, recognize that the shifting sands of pop culture are not the answer. You may need to turn-off your TV, radio, social media, or other external mechanisms that are influencing your thoughts or emotions in your marriage.
Instead, focus on Christ, not your feelings. This may require you to sacrifice by pressing into your local church, spending time in prayer, surrounding yourself with a community of friends and support system that understand the importance of having the proper foundation for your marriage. The more you press into the Lord, the firmer your foundation in marriage will become. The byproduct of pressing into the Lord in your marriage will be love, respect, maturity, and a satisfaction of compatibility with your spouse.
Read about how to maintain your marriage HERE.
Did you know that Kelley Clarke, PLLC Lawyers are happy when you Reconcile!?