The Truth About Marriage-A Biblical Perspective
It is interesting to do some serious study of what the Bible says about marriage. The popular romantic nonsense that exists in the minds of many people (both young and not so young but who are not yet married) is that marriage is a wonderland of bliss and beauty. That if I meet Mr. or Ms. Right and get married in a beautiful and often expensive, (because my parents are paying for it) wedding, we will go on a wonderful honeymoon and then settle down in our new home to live happily ever after.
Unfortunately that only happens in fairy tales and in the stark light of reality the picture is different. The high divorce rate testifies to that and the fact that many are choosing to just live together until they decide to part. So what is wrong with the unrealistic picture that many hopeful people have in their minds. Jesus in dealing with the people in his time who were trying to test him (Matthew 19:1-10) He makes an important statement about marriage and the fact that divorce is not God’s way. His disciples then react by saying;”is it better then not to get married?” As they compare the option of one man and one woman together “until death us do part”, they are shaken to their roots.
The Human Factor.
So why is there this conflict between what God intended and what seems to be so problematic in reality of life? It is the human factor of course. Going back to the story of creation it becomes apparent that when God created man, Adam was needy, and so God obliged by creating a “helper”. (Genesis 2:18) The same verse also states that it is not good for a person to be alone. He also created them male and female. So a couple of important facts emerge from this early Biblical account. Man needs help and company, as obviously do women. Men and woman are different. And so when we begin to take a closer look at marriage today we see clearly that human need that is unfulfilled is perhaps the main reason why many marriages fail or run at a very low level of happiness and satisfaction.
But back to the amazing statement by the disciples: “Is it better not to get married?” The answer is obviously: “no it is good to get married because it is God’s plan, and if it is approached in the right way it is indeed a great experience, with blessings that cannot be found outside marriage.
But it is DIFFICULT! Here the human factor comes into being. Two people with different backgrounds, different views of life, different expectations, and different needs are thrown together in a relationship that is challenging to say the very least. Both have needs; the need to be loved and appreciated; the need for company and togetherness; the need for loyalty and trust; the need to feel useful, and so we could go on. Added into the mix is pressure from living in this crazy world. Demands on time and pressure from others come camping at the door and are hard to prioritise as everything seems urgent, even if it is not really that important. Children bring new challenges that test every relationship.
Secrets of a lasting marriage.
Here is the first secrets of a successful marriage. Don't don’t exchange what is really important in life for other things that often seem to be more important. At the same time each partner in the marriage relationship needs to be aware of and work hard at meeting the needs of their partner. If they are not met by the partner they may find these needs being met elsewhere.
Imagine for a moment a women who is really beautiful and takes good care of herself and longs for an occasional word of appreciation. But in the rush of daily life the husband neglects to tell her and even occasionally give her a little gift to show his undoubted appreciation. At the same time she is told regularly by a co-worker/boss how great she is looking. Over time her feelings for her hard working husband are usurped by someone else.
But bring the scene closer to home. She has always done something one way and he had done it another way. So in the everyday pressure it gets done his or her way, without talking about it. So every time this situation arises one is happy and the other is hurt. It can be such a small thing as which way the toilet paper in put on the holder, or where to eat supper or what to watch on TV. In these situations the obvious solution is discussion and compromise, but that often does not happen. Instead resentment builds up over time and good feelings are eroded.
The Answer is real love.
The answer is in love. Not the emotional early love often fuelled by strong sexual attraction and desire and does not sustain a deep companionship relationship. This love is described in 1 Corinthians 13:3-6 by the Apostle Paul as being kind, long suffering, not demanding one’s own way, is not puffed up, and so on. In Ephesians 5:21 Paul exhorts Christians to submit to one another. In 1 Peter 3:7 Peter encourages husbands to treat their wives kindly. In Titus 2:4 older women are instructed to train the younger ones in how to love their children and husbands. Peter also encourages women to develop a spirit of unfading beauty of a gentile and quiet spirit. (1 Peter 3:4) They need to submit to their husbands and both need to submit to something greater than either of them, and that is marriage with all its potential and promise.
Just a few suggestions for a successful marriage from a Biblical and common-sense perspective:
- Getting married is a serious commitment and needs to be treated as that.
- Marriage is difficult and challenging because of the human factor.
- Emotional first love needs to be completed with a deeper “agape” or selfless love.
- Work on your marriage because it is more important that your work, family or entertainment. It needs lots of regular hard work to succeed.
- Allow the Holy Spirit to empower you in your life and also in your marriage. You need all the help you can get.
- Make your marriage everything that it is meant to be and realise that there will be difficult times, but with God’s help even they can provide growth opportunities.
- A wise woman once told me; “the secret to a good marriage is giving 80% and expecting 20%” Perhaps both should rather give 100%!