Of course for some of you, February might just be a reminder of your real life where you don’t feel love, your marriage isn’t what you wished it was or you just feel plain lonely.
For the whole month of February, this blog is going to dwell into the different parts of a relationship; what makes it work and how to keep it going.
What is the secret of a successful marriage? I truly believe that the reason a marriage either makes it or doesn’t comes down to one thing; either one or both of the parties in it are selfish.
Think about that. If there is an alcohol or drug problem, then that person is being selfish. If there is an anger problem, that person is being selfish. If there is a problem dividing up the household / children / money responsibilities and one person isn’t pulling their weight, it’s a selfish problem. If one person is having affairs, they are being selfish. If one person won’t talk or become involved in the home, they are being selfish.
I know when someone loses their temper, stays away from home and responsiblities, has an affair, or indulges in drugs or alcohol; they like to blame their spouse.
“Well, if she / he wouldn’t do _________ or if she / he would do ________ I wouldn’t have done that!” However, I don’t care for the blame game. You and I are still responsible for our actions. Our actions are to line up to what God says in His Word. How we are to live life is our responsibility.
TIME magazine came out with a special report in November, 2010, asking the question “is marriage still relevant?” 64 percent of those polled were already living with a partner and when the question “Is marriage becoming obsolete?” was asked, nearly 40 percent said yes. The article also reported that “fewer U.S. adults are married, more are living alone and more kids are born to unmarried women than at any other time”. In 1960, the percentage of children living with married parents was 87 percent. In 2008, that percentage fell to 64 percent.
As a Christian, these statistics are alarming. God performed the very first marriage ceremony. He gave us this wonderful gift of living and loving throughout a lifetime with one special person. Why are we having such a difficult time with marriage?
I believe it’s because we are imperfect, sinful people marrying imperfect, sinful people. The Bible says that “the heart is deceitfully wicked, who can know it?” In other words, each one of us is selfish, mean, hateful and wicked! No wonder what we do in life doesn’t result in perfection.
But God knows the condition of our hearts. That’s why He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for our sins and the Holy Spirit to live in our hearts. With God’s love we “can do all things through Christ.”
Back on our selfishness. If we are not walking with Christ, we will be walking in our sinful flesh. So what are some ways to be a better spouse?
1. Focus on your own shortcomings, ready and willing to change for Christ.
2. Be ready to forgive your spouse. God says that if we do not forgive, He will not forgive our sins. Read Matthew 18: 21-35, the story Jesus told of the King who forgave a huge debt and his slave who wouldn’t forgive a tiny debt.
3. Be ready to bear each other’s burdens. (Galatians 6:2) If your husband is overworked, think of a way you could ease his workload or other responsiblities. If you are overwhelmed, share with your husband and ask him for help.
4. Confess to your spouse when you have done something wrong. “Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” James 5:16
5. Stay in the word of God daily: “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” Colossians 3:16
6. Stay away from the world’s ways and do not live an immoral life, with greed, anger, jealously, evil desire, etc. (Colossians 3:5)
7. Remember that those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (Galatians 5:24)
8. And then the fruits of the Holy Spirit will be a part of your nature; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. (Galatians 5:22)
9. Understand how important honor is in a marriage or for that matter, any relationship. We are to show honor to our spouse which shows great respect. “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor.” (Romans 12:10)
10. There is no such thing as no-fault divorce, according to Jesus – only hardness-of-heart divorce. Even though the Bible allows for divorce in certain situations (see Matt. 19:9, 1 Cor. 7:15), it must always be understood in the context of Jesus’ words, that what God has joined together, let not man separate. (Matt. 19: 6).
One of my favorite verses is from Ephesians 4:26-32. If we could remember to do what these verses say, I believe we would have better relationships:
Be angry, and yet do not sin: do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity.
Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear.
And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander by put away from you, along with all malice.
And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.
Our emotions really do get a work out in a marriage! Our husbands can say one thing wrong and we are off with a temper and a fit too quickly for words! Or, we can be in the middle of PMS and suddenly, we don’t even think we like our husbands, much less love them!
I think the main cause of our emotions moving in so many wrong ways is because we are in a war – and it’s not against our flesh and blood husbands:
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day. Ephesians 6: 12-13
Ladies, understand that the enemy wants to destroy your marriage, your family, your walk with the Lord. And so stand firm, daily, against his schemes.
Holding hands is healthy for you! A study at the University of Virginia placed self-described happily married wives in stressful situations. When they were allowed to hold their husbands hand, there was an immediate calming effect.
Author’s Note: I know that talking about marriage can be uncomfortable or even sad for some. For the next few weeks, I hope I will cover enough on this topic to be a help and a blessing for you. However, I want to stress that if you are in an emotionally, verbal or physically abusive situation, you must get outside help. God does not want His children living in that kind of home.