Recently, my Men’s group met for our weekly Bible study (and the dedicated time to discuss sports, as well!), and the topic was one that draws excited cheers from most men (blatant sarcasm alert)….marriage. After a little quiet uneasiness, where I’m convinced I heard a few birds chirp and some monotone voice humming “Bueller….Bueller”, the group loosened up and a great discussion ensued.
One of the key points was about how failed marriages, manifested in divorce, account for half (that’s 50%….1 in 2) of all marriages. Doesn’t that seem crazy! And the worst part is that’s the same statistic within the church! Why? Well, we discussed many reasons. However our group agreed that the biggest reason for many failed marriages was due to the lack of thought, preparation, and counseling for the couple before the “I do’s” are formally said.
I have to admit that I’m pretty sure I totally fit the pre-marriage “lack of thought and preparation” (but completely fit the “taking the plunge” mentality!). Dana and I went through a couple informal meetings with our pastor and got the stamp of approval, but I’m pretty sure I was thinking more about the score of some ballgame rather than the advice that was being given. However funny (or stupid) this may seem to be, this is the main reason that our marriage had some major bumps early on.
What has helped me be better husband is my reading and processing what the Word of God says concerning marriage. Ephesians 5 in particular gives important direction for husbands and wives. In this text (like most of the Bible), it places the vast majority of responsibility on the husband. It states he is the “head of the wife” and the wife should “submit to her husband”, but the husband is instructed to “love your wife as Christ loved the church” and to “love their wife as himself”. The husband leads the marriage, but does so in a loving and self-sacrificing manner and not in a prideful or self-serving way. Only once I understood and applied these principles with my better half, did our marriage smooth out the bumps and begin to grow and strengthen.
As I processed our discussion that evening, I felt convicted to think about my marriage. Specifically, what I’ve learned over the 11 years, and what I think a young man and woman who are ready to make that commitment need to hear.
– Serve your spouse. Ephesians 5:22-33 uses the words love, submit, and respect. While the man is called to be the leader, he is also called to love his wife as himself and give himself up for her, as Christ did the church. This means a sacrificing and serving relationship from both parties, which will create a loving and strong bond. As Rob Base once famously said, “It takes 2 to make things go right…it takes 2 to make it outta sight.”
– In Genesis 2, when God created woman for man, it is stated she was “flesh of my flesh.” This statement signifies the marriage relationship is meant to be the closest of all human relationships. Not only should you be husband and wife, but you should be best friends!
– Boda-bing, boda-boom! 1 Corinthians clearly expresses that the physical, sexual needs of both the husband and wife must be met. If not, then the marriage will undoubtedly fail. Sexual disconnect is the number one reason for divorce. Don’t let this happen to your marriage.
– Spend time together. Another common reason for divorce is “we just grew apart.” Seriously, I know work, kids activities, etc keep each person busy, but your marriage must be a priority. You need to go on Date nights, stay up and talk (or boda-bing, boda-boom!) after the kids are in bed, and find a hobby you can do together occasionally. The truth is that you and your spouse are in control of whether or not you “grow apart”.
– Listen, listen, listen. I’ll admit, I’m a terrible listener. Every time I hear James 1:19 (“let every person be quick to listen, slow to speak…”), I get convicted. However I have noticed that communication, as well as dealing with problems, is much smoother when I follow this simple statement. Listen to your spouse and put away your pride, because you may learn something!
Marriage is a life-long commitment. It has ups and downs. Your marriage will likely not be a Disney or Hollywood fairy tale. Mine has not been perfect, but it’s getting better. And the reason for that is that we’ve put Jesus Christ and his teachings at the center of our lives. If (or, when) you hit some bumps in your marriage, don’t give up on it. By staying and working on your marriage, you and your spouse will be blessed.