Saturday, November 3, 2012

Enemies of Marriage: Love Bears All Things

Enemies of Marriage: Love Bears All Things


“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” – 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

There are many things that can enter into a marriage and cause it to become a burden instead of a blessing.  It breaks down because of actions that the husband and wife take – or fail to take. 

Marriage is like the minivan, aka “the kid mover”.  Once in a while you need to wax it, take it in for a tune up, check under the hood, change out the spark plug wires, put on new brake pads, and sometimes, if you really love that old van, you’ll be willing to do a complete overhaul.  Marriage is worth the effort – but retaining its luster does require some work! 

Marriage is a sacred union between God, Husband and Wife.  Ecclesiastes 4:12 refers to it as a three-strand cord of husband, wife, and God.  If you want your marriage to succeed, stay in alignment to God’s chain of command with the husband having responsibilities to Christ, and the wife having responsibilities to the husband.  If that’s too much to ask, get on your knees in prayer.  Your marriage won’t make it with God as that third cord in this world.

Marriage vows are taken not only to each other, but to God as well. We need to guard it as if it were the crown jewels!  But if you’re going to set up watch for your marriage, you need to know where the enemy lurks to destroy your marriage.  Based on several websites, here are some of the top reasons for divorce:

·       Money Problems

·       Infidelity

·       Lack of Communication

·       Differences in Life Goals

·       Children

·       Abuse

·       Addictions

·       Sexual Problems

·       Religious and Cultural Differences

·       Incompatibility

Each one of these has, based on research into the causes of divorce, become a weapon of war against marriage in the hands of the enemy.  Let’s take a look at them and what God’s word says about each of them.

Money problems happen whether you are married or not! It’s a fact of life. But when money affects love, we have somehow valued it higher than our relationship. When money becomes more important, you have a problem in more areas than your marriage! The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil (1 Timothy 6:10).

But I submit to you that you may have this enemy even as close to you as your wallet.  Credit cards and credit in general can be the fall of a couple’s financial future.  I would encourage you to read Dave Ramsey’s book “Total Money Makeover” if you’re in any kind of debt.  It’s straight talk about one of the greatest stressors of marriage. 

And watch for this tell-tale sign of unhappiness: a spouse that seems to need “things” to make them happy.  These “things” can be a continual need to buy clothing or shoes, or collections of things that have no value to the couple as a whole.  When your happiness begins to come from “things” instead of each other, fix it. It’s not wrong to have “things”, but when your focus of your spare time becomes gaining more “things” at the cost of time spent in your relationship, there’s a deeper underlying issue (says the woman who once owned over 90 pairs of shoes!).

One of the issues God warns us to guard ourselves against in marriage is infidelity, or relationships outside of marriage.  He’s pretty clear on how He feels about those that fall into these relationships of adultery.  Proverbs 6:32 says “He who commits adultery lacks sense; he who does it destroys himself“. Two have become one in the bonds of marriage.  Harming your spouse through adultery is going to harm you as well. 

How important is it to you to maintain your spouse’s trust?  Trust is hard to rebuild and has to be earned over time.  During that time there is suspicions that must be dealt with, and accountability for time and place while you’re apart.  Lose your spouse’s trust due to an affair, and you will put yourself in a cage of “where have you been and how long were you there?” 

The relationship may seem harmless.  But when you have to start hiding the conversations you have had, begin discussing your marriage problems with them, have long lunches, or hidden meetings, etc… you’re in too deep. Matthew 5:28 says that adultery can occur before entering into a physical relationship through lust.  Stop the relationship early!  Have the courage to just say “Look, this relationship has to end for the sake of my marriage.” NO RELATIONSHIP is worth the pain of divorce.

Lack of Communication is something couples have to work on. We all get busy and it’s hard, especially for couples with young children, to have intimate conversations. But you HAVE to set aside the time for that. For every other activity you have to do in a day, you create an appointment. Do the same for your spouse.  There are many ways you can have conversations that don’t mean you have to have one-on-one time.  Write love letters.  Send sweet text messages.  Put notes on their pillow.  These are all good for filling the gap when time doesn’t allow for face to face conversations, but they are not replacements either.    

Where communications break down is when the couple doesn’t feel free to express their true feelings to each other.  I submit to you that anything less than being open about how you feel is dishonest.  If something bugs you – talk about it – be it a big thing or little thing.  Many walls were built with small stones.

Differences in life goals can threaten a marriage.  As life happens, things happen, such as jobs moving to a different town creating a need to relocate, or further education needs causing the spouse to have to quit work to gain the education needed to survive in their field. To this end, I submit to you the Chain of Command again. Do what is best for your marriage, and approved by Christ. Seek Him in all decisions. And with any change to the lives of each other, there should be complete agreement without contention.  And wives, if your husband does not agree with your choices for life goals, submit.  God blesses obedience.

Children are also listed as one of the causes of divorce. There are two different reasons behind this being on the list of reasons for divorce. One is that children are brought into an already shaky marriage because they are thought to strengthen it. My goodness, as the mother of two I just want to laugh at the idea! Before doing this, please consult ANY parent!  Although children bring great job, they also bring additional responsibilities, additional chores, additional expenses, stress, and they need affection.  This affection and the time it takes to give it are in direction other than your spouse. Children will not strengthen your relationship unless your relationship is already strong enough to bear the liabilities. Consider the decision to raise children a business. Do you have the assets (time, money, desire for success) to devote to it? If not, don’t get into the business!

The second reason children are listed as a reason for divorce is that the couple begins to think it’s best for the children not to be in the marital environment. Except in the case of abusive relationships, divorce is never better for children.  Your children are a gift from God, and the blessing he gives as the purpose of marriage (Malachi 2:15).  Consider the effects divorce and custody models/visitation rights have on children.

Visitation rights mean that you give up the right to decide where your child goes when they are with the other parent. As step-parents are chosen by the ex-spouse and not yourself, you have no rights to how they influence your children.  You give up the right to decide the permissions given to them to do various things, and the way they are raised. You become their half parent as your rights are cut in half. Consider as well that there may come a day when you are no longer the custodial parent. Laws and courts are not always fair in these matters. The facts may present themselves against you rather than for you.

Abuse should never enter a marriage relationship that is based on love. Abuse is not perfect love at all because fear does exist. For those in an abusive relationship, please know that this is not God’s will for your life and seek help.

Do you want to know what God thinks of spousal abuse?  Take a hammer in your right hand, pull up the sleeve of your left arm, and smash it with the hammer.  Two have become one!  You only harm yourself when you harm your spouse! Abuse can be either physical, emotional, or verbal, but it’s still abuse.  1 Peter 3:7 speaks to the husband and tells him to treat his wife with honor “so that your prayers may not be hindered.” I submit to you that the same would be true of a wife that treats her husband with disrespect.  Proverbs 14:1 speaks to the wife and says “The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down.”  And Proverbs 25:24 speaks of the wife who nags and argues as it says “It is better to dwell in a corner of a housetop” than with her.  Spousal abuse, be it physical, emotional or verbal, is simply marital suicide. 

Addictions should not enter into a Christian marriage when the Chain of Command (God – Christ – Husband – Wife) is followed because both are in submission to Christ. At the point any activity, any substance, any hobby, are put on the throne of your heart where Christ should be, you have a personal problem. Fix it before it becomes a marital problem. Two have become one. Your addictions will affect your spouse as easily as infection in one organ affects the whole body. 

Sexual problems are also listed on the top reasons for divorce. Friends, one word to you if you’re in this situation: COMMUNICATION. The marriage bed is for satisfaction of both parties to prevent the desires to look outside the marriage for fulfillment. Get this worked out even if it means a little embarrassment to you or your spouse. Your marriage will be stronger in the end, and your love life more enjoyable!

Sexual problems can also result from arguments and bickering. Withholding sexual relations from your spouse is a sin. 1 Corinthians 7:5 says “Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” When you withhold sex from your spouse, you open the door for them to be tempted and taken away from you.  Withholding sex doesn’t solve problems – it creates them.  Ephesians 4:26 says “do not let the sun go down on your wrath”.  In other words, don’t go to bed angry!  Not even once.  Make it a commitment between the two of you that any problem you have is talked out to remove all anger before you sleep.  Yes, you may very well lose sleep, but you won’t lose each other.

Religious and cultural differences, along with incompatibility should be worked out long before marriage occurs. But people do change. ADAPT! 

Before marriage occurs, I would encourage you to follow the one year rule. The one year rule is this –know a person for a year before you commit to marrying them, living with them, or having any form of sexual relations with them. People change through the seasons, and anniversaries of events in their lives. Many endure depression in the winter months, and come to life in the spring. Take at least a year – if not longer – without committing. If you both cannot commit to the one year rule, well, there you have it!  It’s not meant to be!

In God’s perfect vision of marriage, His love is woven and braided with husband and wife’s love to make a three strand cord that cannot be broken.  From time to time, it’s wise to compare your relationship to 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, which explains that love should be patient, kind, self-less, and honest.  Learn to love and forgive each other even in times of stress and pain and argument.  Love will cover a multitude of sins and failures (1 Peter 4:8).  Love bears ALL things.

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