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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God’s Purposes for Marriage

In an age when many young people choose to live together rather than actually “tie the knot,” the question is always raised, “why?” What is the point of marriage? Why is marriage such a big deal?

What are God’s Purposes for Marriage?

  1. The first reason that the Bible gives for the existence of marriage is simple: Adam was lonely and needed a helper (Genesis 2:18): This is the primary purpose of marriage—fellowship, companionship, and mutual help and comfort.
  2. Another purpose of marriage is to create a stable home in which children can grow and thrive: The best marriage is between two believers (2 Corinthians 6:14) who can produce godly children (Malachi 2:13-15). BTW, this Malachi passage shows how much God cares about marriage being kept intact. A good marriage between two godly people will mean that any children they have will tend to be godly as well.
  3. Marriage also protects individuals from sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 7:2): The world we live in is full of sexual images, innuendo, and temptation. Even if a person doesn’t pursue sexual sin, it pursues them, and it is very hard to escape it. Marriage provides a healthy place to express sexuality, without opening yourself up to the severe emotional (and many times physical) damage that is caused by casual, non-committed sexual relationships.
  4. Marriage is a vivid picture of the relationship between Christ and His church: The body of believers that make up the Church are collectively called bride of Christ. As Bridegroom, Jesus gave His life for His bride, “to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word” (Ephesians 5:25-26), and His selfless act provides an example for all husbands. At the Second Coming of Christ, the church will be united with the Bridegroom, the official “wedding ceremony” will take place and, with it, the eternal union of Christ and His bride will be actualized (Revelation 19:7-9; 21:1-2).

So, we see that God has a unique purpose for marriage. In the same way that Christ sacrificially gave Himself to the church, you and your mate should be willing to sacrifice your individual desires for the sake of your marriage covenant. Here is a brief summary of the purposes of marriage.

Partnership: God has given you each other as partners for life—true companionship grows when there is emotional, spiritual and physical unity. Malachi 2:14 emphasizes, “She is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant.”

Parenting: God’s first scriptural command was for Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply, filling the earth with godly offspring. “God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it” (Genesis 1:28). Oddly enough, this is the only command of God that mankind has not disobeyed.

Pleasure: The marriage relationship and your mate are God’s special gifts to you.  God is not a cosmic kill-joy. Sex is a good thing, face it, but God has some limitations on it for two reasons:

  1. To protect us: like from disease, death, reputation and heartache.
  2. To provide the best for us: like having no thoughts of previous encounters haunting, interrupting and comparing your experiences with your wife.

True enjoyment will grow out of self-control and a servant’s heart. Proverbs 5:18 says, “May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth” (Proverbs 5:18).

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

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God’s Pattern for Marriage

I always want to pass on relevant information that I run across, and for the Men of Steel, it generally has to do with being the best husbands and fathers we can be. The following information is from June Hunt, the founder and CEO of Hope for the Heart:

Why do some marriages endure and others not? Why do some couples struggle and others not? What one factor makes the greatest difference and prevents so many marriages from failing? It’s the word covenant. The concept of covenant is a long, winding path that ends when “death do us part.” The marriage covenant is a couple’s lifetime commitment—a lifetime journey of love and loyalty. Jesus states it well: “They are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate” (Matthew 19:6).

What is God’s Pattern for Marriage?

Marriage is a covenant agreement in which a man and a woman are legally and spiritually joined together as husband and wife. Genesis 2:24-25 establishes the four elements in God’s perfect order for marriage.

Separation: “a man will leave his father and mother”
Both the husband and wife leave the authority of their parents and become a separate family unit. In marriage, the loyalty to your parents should never be stronger than the loyalty to your spouse.

Bonding: “and be united to his wife”
By an act of your will, bonding is a mental commitment to have a faithful, permanent marriage relationship with your spouse regardless of difficulties.

Oneness: “they will become one flesh”
Physical oneness is the ultimate consummation of sexual closeness. For this sexual oneness to be continually mutually satisfying, look for ways to express unselfish love to each other. Openly ask, “What best communicates love to you?” and then take the time to enjoy one another.

Intimacy: “they felt no shame”
Emotional intimacy is encouraged when you seek to be vulnerable and transparent, honestly sharing with one another your feelings of frustration and failure, your deepest disappointments and desires.

Spiritual intimacy is achieved when you continue to reveal to one another your unmet needs, praying together, praying for each other and sharing what God is doing in your lives.

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Priorities in Marriage

No one has it all together in their marriage. We are like pilgrims on a journey trying to figure out how to survive and thrive in this most important human relationship. The point is that God has called us to love our wives like Christ loves the church (Ephesians 5:25-26). The point is that it is quite difficult to love anyone else that much. Christ loved the church so much that he died for us all. You may also love your wife enough to die for her, but do you love her enough to live for her. That is the great challenge. That takes sacrifice.

Priorities and Unity:

Have you ever been at a place in your marriage where you and your wife were not aligned in your priorities? Maybe you wanted to focus on items 1, 3, and 5, but she thought items 2, 4, and 6 should be given higher priority. This can quickly begin a cycle of strife and stress that will not be resolved until root issues causing the division are dealt with.

I read recently that much marriage division is the result of DI-vision (meaning two visions). My vision is different from her vision. I see things from one perspective, and she sees them from another. I place greater importance on certain things, while she places higher importance on something else.

I have found that talking things through, thinking aloud together, and trying not to be overly defensive with “my position” can help. Men need to share “why” they feel a certain way about a matter, while she should try to see things from our perspective.

Doing this may not resolve differences in quickly, (but then again it might) so it’s worth trying. We also need to pray and seek Divine guidance in the areas of our division. There may be fears, insecurities, or other areas of sin that need to be confessed and corrected. It may help to get together with another couple you both respect and share with them the challenges you are facing in your marriage.

Honoring Your Wife:

Finally, we husbands are advised to honor our wives:

In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat your wife with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life. Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered (1 Peter 3:7).

Let’s not get sidetracked on the “weaker” comment, but notice that how you treat your wife will influence your spiritual life… like hinder your prayers!

If your marriage is challenging right now, is there any way in which you are not honoring your wife? Are you giving her the value that is due her as a woman, wife and mother?

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