Why Marriages Succeed
Our nation has a very unenviable divorce rate, presently about one out of two marriages ending in divorce. This is cause for alarm not only among those who respect the will of God but also for economists, historians, psychologists, law enforcement agencies, educators and others who are concerned for the welfare of the future of our nation. The disintegration of the home cannot be denied. Furthermore, there are rabid and active opponents working for the total destruction of the home as we know it and have learned from the Bible.
There are many reasons why marriages fail and these deserve study. But we can learn all the reasons for failure and still not know why marriages succeed. In an all-inclusive statement we can say that marriages succeed because a man and a woman who love one another and decide to live together in marriage listen to God
There is much in Scripture pertaining to marriage, the home, husbands, wives and the rearing of children. Those who succeed obey the voice of God. Let us consider a few areas where they listen to Him.
Husbands and wives listen to God when He tells them that marriage is a divine institution with spiritual purposes (Genesis 2:18,22). Marriage came from the mind of God as did the church. It is more than a social, legal and economic contract. Instituted by God, it is for the good of mankind (Genesis 2:18).
One of the primary purposes of marriage is to provide companionship, helpfulness and procreation. It is also to avoid fornication. Marriage is a relationship which is designed where one helps the other to please God in life and to go to heaven when this life is over. In marriage we are not dealing with just men, women, society, civil laws, etc. We are concerned with the souls of people. Any disposition of marriage must include God who originated it. Marriages are more likely to succeed when the spiritual side of it is respected.
Marriages succeed when the husband and wife listen to God when He tells them that marriage is for adults. The divorce rate among those who marry in their teen years is four times higher than the deplorable national average. God said, “Let a MAN (emphasis, JWB) leave his father and mother.” Marriage is not child’s play. It requires more than physical maturity. There must be a reasonable degree of emotional, mental and spiritual maturity to handle the duties and privileges of marriage.
We sometimes hear people blame marriage failure on incompatibility. More often than not it is irresponsibility due to immaturity. It is a case where “children” have attempted to assume an adult role. In addition to marrying too early in life we also see the danger of brief courtships that do not allow for the discovery of the levels of maturity. One mate may say to another, “You do not seem to be the same person I married.” If they married very young you can be sure after a very few years they will not be the same people because they married while they were still growing up. They should wait until they are grown.
Successful marriages are enjoyed when husband and wife listen to God as He teaches the oneness of marriage. “The two become one flesh.” There is to be the leaving of parents and the cleaving to each other. There is to be unity and oneness in handling the finances of the home. There is to be unity in the matter of faith. There is to be loyalty to one’s mate above everyone else except Deity. No in-law or outlaw can drive a wedge between a husband and wife who are loyal first to each other. The reason others can sometimes contribute to splitting a marriage is because the married ones are not united as they should be. In marriage it is no longer me-my-mine, you-yours. Everything becomes we-us-ours. Unless we listen to God in this respect we invite trouble. Even blessed children should not be allowed to divide husband and wife.
Marriages succeed when husbands and wives listen to God when He teaches there must be love in the home. Love is seeking the other’s highest good. Wives are to love their husbands and husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church. Too often people think of love only in terms of sexual relationships. This is involved in marriage and is an expression of love that God reserves for the husband and wife. Sexual relationships outside of the bond of marriage are sinful whether it be before marriage or after marriage. How can there be the trust, mutual respect, esteem and admiration one for the other when such unfaithfulness to the vows of marriage are in evidence? How can there be the holding up of each other’s hands as is necessary in marriage when there is betrayal?
Two major complaints made by wives and husbands are: (1) she nags and belittles; (2) and he constantly criticizes and finds fault. Such is simply a manifestation of the lack of love. Love will unselfishly seek what God has decreed to be for the good of the other. Certainly we are not to be totally blind to the faults of the other. But the motive behind noting the faults is all important. Is it to hurt, ridicule, degrade and harm, or is it to help the other improve and overcome fault? We need the insight of each other but we do not need the barrage of criticism designed to humiliate and destroy. Furthermore, marriage partners need to be considerate in choosing the time to mention faults and shortcomings. Some have done it so openly and publicly to the hurt and embarrassment of the other that it scars. This is not a manifestation of genuine love.
Marriages succeed when people listen to God regarding the sexual association in marriage. First Peter 3:7 and First Corinthians 7:2-5 gives us the divine mind in this realm. One purpose of marriage is to provide for the satisfaction of the sexual appetite. In marriage it is a relationship that is sacred, pure, holy and undefiled. Outside of marriage it is a degenerate behavior that reduces people to the level of animals. There is no way for even this sophisticated and permissive society of today to so glamorize sin as to make it acceptable before God and before those who love God.
Though there be many similarities between husband and wife, there are also tremendous differences and these differences must be respected. There are differences other than physical differences. God made us so as to complement each other. The bodily association must include the greatest respect for the body of each other. The body is the temple of God (First Corinthians 3:16). Your body belongs to your mate and vice versa. Yet, each body deserves the utmost care and kindness. The sexual relation in marriage is not merely an animalistic craving being satisfied. It is, as already stated, an added language of love.
Many enter marriage without understanding the functions of the body. This can be learned without carnality and sinfulness. The duty of parents is to see to it that their children know the sacredness of the body, its function, and how God intends its use. Young people ought not have to learn such things from the alley, restroom walls, filthy language of peers or through fornication. Explicit and reverent material is available to assist parents in the discharge of this duty.
Marriages will more likely succeed when partners listen to God and apply the Christian virtue of selflessness. Selfishness is often at the tap root of marital problems. When we see husbands loving their wives as Christ loved the church, and wives loving their husbands in return as the church is to love Christ, there is the basis for a happy home. But the disposition to have “my way” and seek only what “I want” will soon destroy a marriage.
God teaches that the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church (Ephesians 5:23). This does not contend that the husband is superior and the wife inferior. Each is superior in his or her role and realm. Each becomes misplaced outside that realm. There is no room for a tyrannical husband or a domineering wife. In both instances that only brews marital strife. Selfishness makes marriages unhappy. Selflessness contributes to a successful marriage.
Marriages are more likely to succeed when both listen to God when He teaches that marriage is for life, “till death do us part,” in sickness and health, prosperity and adversity, for better or worse, good times, bad times, all times. Marriage partners must enter marriage with that understanding and intent. Anything less is to distort what God has implanted. It has been that way since the beginning, Jesus said in Matthew 19:8. This idea of trial marriages is an abomination to every nation.
In conclusion, as goes the home, so goes the nation, society generally, even the church. The home is the basic unit of society. From the home comes the population of everything. The stream cannot rise above the fountain from which it flows. Those in marriage and those contemplating marriage must learn these things and keep them in mind throughout marriage. Such doctrine from Deity is indispensable for a successful marriage. God’s richest blessings will abide with those who will listen to Him and heed His Word.
1. What basic reasons would you offer as to why marriages are successful?
2. How much does unselfishness count in marriage?
3. What are some acceptable ways to teach the young about the sexual relationship?
4. Discuss: Marriage is for adults.