December 4, 2023

What if My Spouse Let’s Themself Go? J. I. Packer and the Puritan Ethic of Marriage

ONE Thought (from us)

Is it shallow to care about how my husband/wife looks? The short answer is no, not inherently. But what if your spouse has stopped caring for themself and stopped caring about his/her physical appearance? Some aspects of aging together “until death do you part” are naturally inevitable, but not all. How can you discern which is which?

Here are some truths to help you think about this question:

Aging is good, and it comes along with changes. Some weight gain is natural as your metabolism slows. Things like wrinkles, hair loss, etc are natural and inevitable. These things are out of our control, and it requires both spouses to love one another through all seasons of life.

Some aspects of our appearance ARE in our control. God gave us bodies and it’s our job to steward them unto His glory. But, it’s also our job not to elevate bodily appearance to a place where it dishonors God, whether it’s valuing our own bodily appearance too much (vanity) or demanding too much perfection from one’s spouse. As a married couple, you don’t do each other any favors when you let yourselves go physically, but you also don’t want to be the couple that obsesses about outward appearances while neglecting your relationship with God or other aspects of your marriage. There’s no pill you can swallow to gain wisdom in this or any other area; you’ll have to work for it just like everyone else.

If you’re wondering how to talk to your spouse about this, we recommend listening to or watching this podcast episode.

“…for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.”
(1 Timothy 4:8)

ONE Quote (from another)

“The Puritan ethic of marriage was first to look not for a partner whom you do love passionately at this moment but rather for one whom you can love steadily as your best friend for life, then to proceed with God’s help to do just that.”
– J.I. Packer

ONE Question (for you)

Without falling into the trap of perfection, have you let yourself go, physically, or otherwise? What is one small change you can make today to get back to where you know you need to be?

Note: We talked about this topic in this week’s podcast episode. Be sure to watch or listen to get the full discussion!

Much love and stay fierce!

Ryan & Selena Frederick
Founders of Fierce Marriage