February 5, 2014 - Marriage

Marriage is the reflection of Christ’s relationship with His bride, The Church. For that reason a husband must love his wife more than himself and give himself—his very life—for her. To be clear, he is to trade his life for hers.

Couple sitting of the couch having problems in their relationshi

As romantic and wonderful as that is, marriage can be stressful at times and problems surface that may be hurtful and damaging even to a seasoned marriage. But there are steps we can take to avoid pitfalls before they gain a foothold and threaten to destroy us.

Eight major stressors of marriage are divided into two categories: exogenous (arising from outside the marriage) and endogenous (attacking from within).

  • Exogenous
    • In-laws
      • For some in-laws it’s difficult to let go. A father can’t stop thinking of himself as his child’s protector and provider. He has done it all his life and can’t let go. Perhaps a mother can’t understand why her daughter-in-law isn’t doing things for her son the way she did. But scripture is clear; if there is interference from mom and dad, a bond must be severed if only (and ideally) for a season. But the husband and wife are to become one, and the in-laws must be left behind if there is friction or inappropriate controlling. Tough love, but true love.
    •  Finances
    • Jobs
      • We all need to work, but even the Bible tells us to be cautious about having the wisdom to know when enough is enough. Many of us are driven to climb the corporate ladder, and I’m not saying that’s bad. But we need to temper it, or it will control us.
    • Serious Illness
      • Nobody sees this one coming, and places immediate stress on any marriage. The stressors include financial, fear, the looming unknowns, the sudden realization that we truly are mortal, and the inability to fix it.
  • Endogenous
    • Unkindness
      • My father told me for years that marriages that struggled or failed had one common trait—a failure of the husband and wife to show kindness to each other. Unfortunately, I have seen this all too often. Kindness is self-fulfilling. Offering kindness when you don’t feel like it or when it doesn’t make sense, builds character. Soon it becomes part of you, and it’s contagious.
    • Sarcasm
      • This is not the same as unkindness and it isn’t resolved in a similar manner. Sarcasm is an insidious passive aggression, and must be identified and stopped. There is no place for sarcasm in marriage. It is used for the purpose of degrading, belittling, and condescending to our spouse. The best way to deal with it is to notice it in yourself, and the moment you realize you are doing it, stop in mid-sentence and apologize. You will be amazed at the results in both you and your spouse.
    • Pornography
      • I have addressed this in several blogs over the years on this site including:
      • Porn is addictive, degrading, and it is adultery. There is no way it can boost a marriage or be beneficial in any way. Pornography addiction or use by the husband or the wife will cause damage to the marriage this is difficult to repair. It is indeed the direct cause of many marriages in this and other nations. Studies by Dolf Zillman and Jennings Bryant discovered that the effects of repeated exposure to standard, non-violent, commonly available pornography includes:
        • Increased callousness toward women
        • Distorted perceptions about sexuality
        • Devaluation of the importance of monogamy
        • Decreased satisfaction with the partners sexual performance
        • Decrease affection toward one’s spouse
        • Decreased satisfaction toward one’s spouse’s appearance
        • Doubts about the value of marriage
    • Failure to have a relationship with the Lord
      • It shouldn’t surprise us that marriages struggle when the Lord is not there. We can’t expect a close, romantic, loving marriage when we slowly allow Jesus Christ to slip into the background of our lives. This is key, and should take center-stage.

Marriage is the most perfect relationship we can experience on earth. It is God designed and God ordained, and therefore a target of Satan’s attacks. Recognizing the pitfalls is priceless in preventing them from damaging or destroying us. It’s worth the investment of time.