Strengthening the Threefold Cord in Your Marriage
“Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” — Ecc. 4:12
A few years ago, I heard an insightful message from author and speaker Heidi St. John about what it means to “intersect” with your spouse. Using the verse above, she explained how vital it is that we protect the places that we “meet” with our spouse — activities, values, desires you have in common, goals for your family and future — to maintain intimacy and strength as “one” entity (Mark 10:8). The opposite of this threefold cord is a couple who live parallel lives: They are both moving toward individual goals and fulfillment separately, and they rarely intersect on an intimate level — leaving room for the enemy to work a wedge into this gap.
As the verse states, the tightly knit two can withstand an attack, but a threefold cord can endure longer. The increased strength comes from that third strand, which is our relationship with God. When we’re walking with the Lord as one, we’re better equipped to withstand repeated attacks of the enemy on our marriage.
For 20 of the past 22 years of our marriage, my husband’s job has required a lot of travel — on busy months, he’s out of town almost every week. For most of these years, I’ve been able to avoid becoming the “worrying wife” that checks receipts, cell phone bills, etc. And when I’ve had moments of mistrust in the past, by God’s grace, we’ve worked through them.
However, during a recent bout with insecurity directed at my husband — fueled by seeing the husbands of a few close sisters in Christ walk away from the Lord and their marriages — God reminded me of this verse from Ecclesiastes and a dimension that hadn’t occurred to me before. Although we may picture this threefold cord to be three separate strands weaved together, the threefold cord in a Christian marriage should start with two individuals who are first tightly bound to the Lord. Then when we become one, the Lord is already present in that oneness.
Before we can say that Christ is at the center of our marriage, He must be at the center of our own hearts as individuals. And if we haven’t found our identity in Christ and our security first in our relationship with Him, then our marriage cord isn’t as strong as it needs to be. When I reflected on the demise of my friends’ marriages, I could see how the enemy had started his attack on the husband’s faith first, and as that weakened personal faith was challenged by more direct hits of temptation, the loosening cord came unraveled.
This time, when I began to feel insecure about my husband’s traveling, the Lord reminded me that my true security comes from my relationship with Him — not my husband’s reassurances. My ability to trust my husband starts with trusting my faithful God first, and then trusting the evidence of God’s work in my husband’s life. When I look at my husband’s relationship with the Lord, I see fruit that tells me he’s still attached to the vine of Christ (John 15:5). If I trust God’s word, then I can trust that fruit as evidence of our threefold cord being intact.
Continuing to abide in the vine myself is the best thing I can do for our marriage. No amount of digging around for evidence (or lack thereof) can make me feel truly secure about my husband’s faithfulness. However, I can surrender that desire to be reassured to the Lord — and He will be faithful to fill me with His peace because I trust Him. There’s no greater sense of security than that!
Are you struggling with issues of trust and insecurity in your marriage? The one thing you always have control over is YOU: Keep your eyes on the Lord’s faithfulness, develop a deeper trust in Him, and no matter what pressure your threefold cord might endure, you can rest in the knowledge that He will always be by your side!
“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.” — Heb. 10:23