Five Troubled Marriages

God uses marriage as a chisel to chip away your character flaws. Rick Warren once tweeted something like “marriage is the original on the job training.” The only guidebook is the Bible, and so many people don’t crack it open.  God intends both partners to move from selfish to sacrificial behavior, reflecting the sacrificial love of Christ. If selfishness creeps in, marriage is in trouble. I read this information by June Hunt, which gives the characteristics of five troubled marriages:

The Make-believe Marriage—lacking honest and intimate communication by:

  1. Not working through problems (stubbornness)
  2. Not accepting responsibility (defensiveness)
  3. Not acknowledging your mate’s feelings (rejection)
  4. Not concerned about your mate’s needs (self-centeredness)
  5. Not displaying affection (apathy)

Make-believe marriages are marriages in name only. To enjoy intimate communication is to be as concerned about your partner’s needs as about your own. Philippians 2:3 says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.”

The Maladjusted Marriage—experiencing sexual difficulties because of:

  1. Frigidity (fearfulness)—from false guilt, sexual abuse, psychological problems
  2. Impatience (insensitivity)—being demanding, coercive
  3. Infidelity (selfishness)—indulging in adultery, pornography
  4. Fatigue (exhaustion)—caused by excessive busyness or overcommitment
  5. Anger (bitterness)—unforgiveness, manipulation

Maladjusted marriages fail to experience the unique expression of physical oneness. As an act of love, God’s design is that both partners yield their bodies to one another. True sexual fulfillment comes through seeking to provide pleasure to the other. The Bible says, “The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife’ (1 Corinthians 7:3-4).

The Mixed-up Marriage—having conflicting values over:

  1. Opposing religious beliefs
  2. Opposing parental responsibilities
  3. Opposing marital commitments
  4. Opposing friendship choices
  5. Opposing moral principles

Mixed-up marriages produce power struggles, tension, and criticism. With basic values in conflict, the couple has great difficulty developing oneness of mind, heart, and will. However, Philippians 2:2 says, “Make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.”

The Money-troubled Marriage—experiencing financial disagreements over:

  1. How family income will be earned. . .and spent
  2. How credit cards will be used
  3. How credit card misuse will be handled
  4. How the budget will be followed
  5. How the lack of money for essentials will be handled

Conflicting answers to these questions and other financial difficulties can result in an unhealthy focus on money and material needs. However Hebrews 13:5 says, “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have.”

The Misaligned Marriage—failing to recognize/respond to God-given roles

Failure of the husband:

  1. To be a spiritual leader
  2. To be financially responsible
  3. To make wise decisions
  4. To seek to solve problems
  5. To be attentive to his wife

Failure of the wife:

  1. By not having a gentle spirit
  2. By trying to control her husband
  3. By becoming involved in power struggles
  4. By withdrawing emotionally
  5. By being bitter and sarcastic

God’s design is for the husband to feel significant through providing for his family and receiving the respectful love of his wife. He fulfills her need to feel secure through his love, acceptance, and sensitivity to her desires. It may sound old fashioned, but these verses are right out of the Bible. Once we have a proper understanding of love and submission, it’s not such a bad deal. Ephesians 5 paints the picture:

“And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church. For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her ” (Ephesians 5:21-23,25).

This is information I discovered from June Hunt, the founder and CEO of Hope for the Heart.

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3 Replies to “Five Troubled Marriages”

  1. Frank

    Love Some Input

    Some material used in marriage counseling came my way recently and it caused me real concern.


    A few questions about the “Misaligned Marriage:”

    I’m struck with the implied tasks. Presumably if the husband succeeds he will 1) be a spiritual leader, 2) be financially responsible, 3) make wise decisions, 4) seek to solve problems, and 5) be attentive to his wife. Fine as far as it goes, all admirable tasks.

    The successful wife on the other hand (and I’m rearranging the list intentionally) will avoid becoming involved in a power struggle, 2) not try to control her husband 3) make herself available emotionally all the while 4) having a gentle spirit and 5) not becoming bitter or sarcastic. Not so noble and so far below the classic ideal God gives us in the Proverbs 31 woman.

    It’s difficult not to see this as a sad waste of resources because the wife is certainly capable and actually required by scripture to make wise decisions, seek to solve problems, and be financially responsible. (And what husband wants a foolish, contrary, financially irresponsible wife?)

    I’m also struck with the irony regarding emotional availability. In my experience it is husbands who most have difficulty being available emotionally. Wives tend to be emotionally available, unless, of course this is a euphemism for sexual availability in which case wives are usually sexually available to husbands who are emotionally available to them, especially to those husbands who also have a gentle spirit. (It was Christ who said “learn from me for I am gentle …” Matthew 11:29, and Paul who said, “But we were gentle among you just as a nursing mother …” 1 Thessalonians 2:7. Please correct me if it was wives who were exclusively being addressed here.)

    Your distinctions and scriptural selectivity raise serious concerns for me. I’d be interested in your thoughts.

  2. Scott Chafee Post author

    Thank you Frank for stopping by.

    As indicated in my first paragraph, I was reading an author June Hunt and passed on her teaching on the topic of troubled marriages. You notice it is a concise list rather than an exhaustive one. I am not a fundamentalist who promotes the “ball and chain of command” but simply passed on this information from the traditional view.

    When people are hurting and in crisis, I believe the traditional roles of marriage (once understood, or perhaps modified for their situation) can give couples a handle on some things they can change to make it work together.

    My wife is an ordained and endorsed hospital chaplain, and I fully support women in ministry. That attitude flows into my belief that there is no difference between the genders in our standing before God or responsibilities in life, relationships or ministry. In marriage, mutual submission is also a biblical concept (Ephesians 5:21). I will amend my original post to include that verse at the end. The post was not intended to contradict the Proverbs 31 woman.

    I have written a further response in a separate post:

  3. Frank


    Thanks for the response, and thanks for amending the scriptural reference to include vs. 21. It is the context for what follows and so is critical for its interpretation.

    I understand your respect for traditional roles in marriage. One issue I have with the list is its implicit communication that the wife’s primary job is to get out of the way of the husband. Is this God’s design? Certainly some Christian marriages are in trouble because the husband abdicates his responsibilities. However many Christian marriages are in trouble because of the opposite problem. In that case this list will only make the matter worse and there is little hope or help for that wife.


    PS – Abigail (I Samuel 25) is a wife in a difficult marriage who takes bold action to not only save her husbands life (from David), but also prevents David from rashly shedding blood. Her wisdom and respectful initiative might provide a more helpful example for the wife I mention above.
    (“And David said to Abigail, ‘Blessed be the Lord . . . who sent you . . . . you who have kept me this day from blood guilt.” vss 32 & 33)

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