Joby Mundackal asserts that the core of Christian marriage is to follow the footsteps of Christ. He provides some profound pointers to young couples embarking on their journey of married life

Battle! Often people misunderstand this battle and think that the battle is between the husband and wife. In a war, if the enemy is smart his best strategy would be to confuse the opposing soldiers and make them fight among themselves. Our struggle is not against enemies of flesh and blood, but against the spiritual forces of evil (Eph 6:12). Let us explore married life through this lens and equip ourselves.

On May 6th, we celebrated our 16th wedding anniversary – a good time to reflect on our lives and also to evaluate the battle.

Three weeks after our marriage, me and Vinitha moved to UK. We began our life far away from our immediate families. A small family can encounter difficult obstacles when it is isolated from relatives and friends. The ecclesial community therefore has the responsibility of offering support, encouragement and spiritual nourishment which can strengthen the cohesiveness of the family, especially in times of trial or difficulty. (Benedict XVI). Most of our families are in a way slightly isolated. There are advantages and disadvantages to this. None of our intermediate relatives witness the mood swings in our family life, and thus miss the opportunity to provide support and guidance. However, the role of ecclesial communities like Jesus Youth can play a vital role in these situations. Our fellowship gatherings give ample opportunities to interact with other families and youth. One common agenda in all JY gatherings is time for personal sharing. This provides opportunity to share at least a fraction of our vulnerability and raise our need for prayer support.

We also find time to visit other families. In fact when we became parents, we visited and stayed with many other JY families. This given an opportunity to build relationship with them and also to see the dynamics of other families. One important blessing that happened for us was in having another couple as our cell mate. This close friendship has given us an opportunity to be accountable about our life.

Combined Faith Journey

Till marriage the spiritual journey is personal. But with marriage my partner becomes my way of getting closer to Christ. In fact one of the mysteries of marriage is that our choice of our life partner becomes a gift of God. When we reflect on the lives of St Monica or St Rita, we can be certain that our ways of gift is completely different from God’s gift, and only in time can we fully understand it. We spend time together in praying, talking, traveling and many other activities. But the most nourishing time is when one person shares their spiritual insights, which often become the food for the other person’s soul. This should be a two way process, so both will grow spiritually.

The soldiers in the battle field talk about the strength of their King, which in turn empowers them. So don’t miss any opportunity to talk about the spiritual experiences in your daily lives.

Now they are no more two but one. It’s important to go to bed as a couple. Sometimes we tend to stay with the phone or engrossed in some other business as late night is often a quiet time. So prioritize those activities. It is important for couples to reconcile to one another and thank God before sleep. Don’t let anything that affect your marital relationship to go with you to your sleep.

When it comes to any major decisions, it should be decided with mutual consent. Sometimes this can be costly, but through this process your decisions won’t be influenced by any external factors.

One major mistake we do in our marital relationship is underestimating our spouses. During the honeymoon years we try to discover one another and often make the mistake of judging our spouses. The success of an individual lies in discovering himself/herself under the eyes of his/her creator. As time progresses, I am discovering many more new things in me. If I could do this to myself, how can I stop discovering the diamond in my spouse. When God created everything, He concluded with a statement that “It is good”. Also, His love is new every day. The beauty of marriage is helping one another to discover this diamond. The best way for evil to win the battle is to make you believe that there is nothing new in your spouse. Are you losing your battle or winning?

Another mistake couples make is mocking a character trait of their spouse in front of others. If your husband is someone who doesn’t help with the daily chores, or spends too much time with social media, you should find the right time to talk to him, rather than talking about this frustration in a funny way in public, as this will usually be counterproductive. In the same way, talking bad about your wife’s nature in the presence of friends’ would only damage the relationship more. If you are finding it difficult to talk about such sensitive issues, bring them in prayer – your help comes from the mountain (Ps 121). Lives of St Rita and St Monica gives us hope. Having a close cell group often helps in opening up.

If someone were to ask me what the core of Christian marriage is – it is to follow the footsteps of Christ. He emptied himself and navigated life in its entire spectrum of difficulties and sufferings, in complete obedience. So to bear fruit in our family life, we should be willing to die. Dying to self is vital. Thus the other person’s interest becomes my interest. If we observe carefully, the Old Testament rule of a tooth for a tooth is still visible in many of our families – actions and reactions abound, thereby giving room for evil. But when we begin walking in the footsteps of Christ, his divinity starts blossoming in our life.

So the golden rules..

We are in battle with the forces of darkness. If we are getting irritated with our partner, it is most likely the power of evil. So that’s the time to sharpen; put on the armour of God (Eph 6: 13-17). Our weapons should have power to defuse all evil powers (2 Cori 10:3-5).

Your faithfulness is towards Christ. He is the standard. All comparison is with Him, not with our spouses. In every effort try to imitate Him (Phil 2:3-8) and the Lord will raise you up, as he promised.

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