Seven Causes of Marriage Conflicts, Part 1
We’re going to deal with PROBLEMS IN THE MARRIAGE RELATIONSHIP. And what we are going to talk about is FOUNDATIONAL, and therefore MANDATORY for all. None of this is OPTIONAL or to be dealt with later or lightly. It is first things first, right from the beginning issues. It all stands or falls right here.
In fact, we’re going to spend most of our time IDENTIFYING problems, because I’ve discovered you can’t RESOLVE marital conflicts until you can first see that a problem EXISTS, and what it is.
The following principle is not a quote from the Bible, but principiently it is in the Bible throughout:
“NONE ARE SO BLIND AS THOSE WHO WILL NOT SEE.”
Jeremiah 5:21 put it well,
“Hear this, O foolish and senseless people, who have eyes, but see not;
who have ears, but hear not.”
“NONSENSICAL FOOLS WHO CHOOSE TO BE BLIND AND DEAF TO THE
TRUTH ABOUT THEMSELVES.”
“MANY TIMES THERE ARE SPOUSES WHO CURSE THE MARRIAGE AND THEIR MATES,
RATHER THAN BEING WILLING TO LIGHT THE CANDLE OF UNDERSTANDING,
BECAUSE IT IS TOO PAINFUL TO SEE THE TRUTH”
And when we discover that it’s FOUNDATIONAL in nature, rather than simply CAUSE and EFFECT, and when we discover the ROOT CAUSES, this then will explain why there is a multiplicity of problems or continuing problems in the marriage!
The point being:
“IF YOU HAVE BAD FRUITS, YOU HAVE BAD ROOTS.”
And once we’ve exposed bad roots, we can begin to ask the Holy Spirit to deal with the root situations. This can be radical surgery, as Jesus said about root sources in Matthew 3:10,
“And the axe is already laid at the root of the trees….”
That is where we are going, not to the fruits, but to the roots. We will not be applying Band-Aids, but we will be doing surgery.
Oh how the world lays faulty, funky, and failure-doomed foundations for love and marriage these days. SUDS – SEX – SANDALS RESORT! That will do it, and you will live happily ever after. What a bust! And the dismal statistics of marriage and divorce prove it. The world’s foundation for love and marriage are all cracked, and so are they who lay them.
It all reminds me of the little daughter playing house with her miniature set of white, plastic dishes. She is mixing up a stew of mud and grass in her plastic pot, and calling it soup. The only difference being that the other kids won’t eat the awful stuff that she is offering, but millions of adults consume what the world has to offer as the foundation for love and marriage. And before long, like a prizefighter who has had enough, the deluded spouses throw the towel into the ring, signaling the end of the marriage.
Now then, some of the things that we are going to share will simply flow out of Biblical principles that we all must learn. Other things will come out of our own experience, or out of the lives of others whom we have counseled.
And so eventually we’re going to look at 7 basic problems, foundational problems in marriage. And I’m going to share these 7 things in a PROGRESSIVE way. In other words, each of these things will INCREASE in their complexity. And I should also preface my remarks by saying that these are problems that relate to CONTINUING CONFLICTS in marriage, conflicts that will always worsen, unless they are dealt with at a root and foundational level.
But first, before we get to the FOUNDATIONAL DEFECTS that cause MARRIAGE CONFLICTS, we must deal with some hugely important priority issues first. If you will, what we will now address for a bit could be called THE STEEL RODS THAT HOLD THE MARRIAGE FOUNDATION TOGETHER. If you will:
“THE RE-BAR STRUCTURE FOR STRONG MARITAL FOUNDATIONS.”
Without these rods being laid and set in place, the foundation will surely crack and crumble from the weight and pressure of the modern world upon marriage and family.
RE-BAR # 1 – GET RID OF THE MARRIAGE MYTHS
Now don’t get me wrong, marriage is WONDROUS AND GLORIOUS. I would not trade my marriage for anything. When God created the world, He called everything He made “GOOD.” But only when He had created ADAM AND EVE, the first married couple in human history, only then did He say in Genesis 1:31,
“THIS IS VERY GOOD.”
As far as I am concerned, heterosexual marriage, which is really a necessary redundancy these days, is the greatest thing that God did in His six days of creative genius. Not all of the stars in the heavens, and not all of the flowers on the earth, can even begin to match its beauty. Marriage is a most beautiful thing!
-FIRST MYTH – YOU CAN RETAIN YOUR SINGLENESS
I agree that marriage is more than fantastic. But I also agree that marriage creates challenges that the single life never experiences. Not the least of these is that you are leaving the SINGLE LIFE for the PLURAL LIFE, and this means that in marriage and family:
“THE PRIVATE AND SINGLE GOOD MUST NOW TAKE A BACK SEAT TO
THE COLLECTIVE GOOD.”
Most marriages that fail do so because the single never makes it to the plural. Not an easy transition! If you will:
“WHEN THE SINGLE FAILS IN THE TRANSITION TO THE THE PLURAL, IT IS
BECAUSE THERE IS A FAILURE TO MOVE FROM SINGLE MONOPOLIZING
TO THE NECESSARY ART OF MARITAL COMPROMISING.”
It all boils down to this:
“ONLY WHEN THE ONE TRULY BECOMES TWO, CAN THE TWO TRULY
If you will:
“THE DOMINATOR MUST BECOME THE COOPERATOR, OR THEY WILL SOON
BE SAYING TO EACH OTHER, ‘SEE YOU LATER.’”
It starts to show when she announces darkly,
“YOU NEVER PAY ATTENTION TO ME,”
and she stalks into the bedroom. Yes, the words “NEVER” and “NEVER EVER” are the indicators that singularity is struggling with marital plurality. And I like to say:
“LOOK, YOU GOT EXACTLY WHAT YOU DESERVED BY GETTING MARRIED.”
-SECOND MYTH – PERFECT MARRIAGES AND PERFECT SPOUSES.
Everyone has problems in relationships now and then, particularly marriage relationships. Hear me now, it’s a profound news flash – an all-points bulletin – a Fox News Alert:
“THERE ARE NO PERFECT MATES AND NO PERFECT MARRIAGES.”
Perfect marriages are mythology, not reality. Perfect marriage partners are mythological figures, nothing more. I know that this may shock a lot of young people, but as awesome and heavenly as marriage can be and is:
“MARRIAGE WILL CREATE A WHOLE NEW SET OF PROBLEMS THAT YOU NEVER
HAD WHEN YOU WERE SINGLE, FOR INSTEAD OF LIVING WITH ONE
IMPERFECT PERSON, NOW YOU MUST LIVE WITH TWO
“PERFECTION IS A LAUDABLE GOAL TO BE ACHIEVED ONLY IN HEAVEN, WHILE
PERFECTIONISM IS A NEUROTIC ILLNESS THAT DESTROYS EVERYONE
AND EVERYTHING IN ITS PATH ON EARTH, INCLUDING MARRIAGE.”
People who are looking for the PERFECT MATE will be the first ones to make sure that not only will their marriage not be perfect, but in fact will be painful in the extreme.
Years ago when I was in evangelistic work, we had a lady tell us that she had the most perfect marriage in the world, with the most perfect husband in the world. They invited us over for dinner, and we got there just in time to hear her saying with a sweet voice at the top of her lungs,
“Henry, sometimes you are the STUPIDEST man!”
So much for the perfect marriage! Hear it:
“NEUROTIC PERFECTIONISM ALWAYS TURNS MARITAL BLISS INTO MARITAL
BLISTERS, FOR IT HAS NO TOLERANCE FOR IMPERFECTION.”
RE-BAR #2 – DRINK WATER FROM YOUR OWN CISTERN
Now then, in Proverbs 5:15-23, there is a re-bar system that must be put in place to strengthen the foundation:
Verse15, “Drink water from your own cistern and fresh water from your own well. (16) Should your springs be dispersed abroad, streams of water in the streets? (17) Let them be yours alone, and not for strangers with you. (18) Let your fountain be blessed and rejoice in the wife of your youth. (19) As a loving hind and a graceful doe, let her breasts satisfy you at all times; Be exhilarated always with her love. (20) For why should you, my son, be exhilarated with an adulteress, and embrace the bosom of a foreigner? (21) For the ways of a man are before the eyes of the Lord, and He watches all his paths.”
Yes indeed, God the Holy Spirit inspired those words. Holy Spirit inspired SEX THERAPY! In fact, there is no SEX THERAPIST that can come close to God’s wisdom. What a God we serve! Now I haven’t the time or space to exegete this entire passage, for we have so much to cover. Nor do I have time to talk about the seducing evil spirits and constant pressures for adultery upon the marriage. I think we KNOW the tremendous pressures that exist when we’re living in a nation where 5 out of 10 are getting a divorce, and 7 out of 10 wish they were. It is just plain dismal.
But what I want to emphasize is what this Proverb says:
“Drink water from your OWN cistern.”
You can in no way any longer PLAY THE FIELD – FLIRT – SEND SIGNALS THAT YOU WERE SO GOOD AT WHEN YOU WERE A SINGLE PLAYER. THOSE DAYS ARE OVER, PETER PLAYER. SUMMERS AT THE BEACH ARE OVER, BETTY BIKINI. You’re married. Knock it off RONNIE ROVER and WANDA WINKY.
Drink water from YOUR OWN CISTERN. That has to do with marital fidelity. FAITHFULNESS TO ONE AND ONLY ONE – YOUR SPOUSE! Got it! Your life will never be the same, and remember that when the first stretch marks appear after she gave birth to the child that you stretched her with named JOHNNY JUNIOR. Right, JOHNNY SENIOR!?
We live in a rampant adulterous generation – CHEATERS – CHEATING HEARTS. They often siphon water from other people’s marriages/cisterns. It is looked upon as not only inevitable today in the NEW MORALITY, which is the OLD IMMORALITY, but it is looked upon as acceptable to experiment and bring some pizazz back into your life. After all, it is impossible for one to totally satisfy the other one all the time. It is just not realistic. So the line of the liberated immoralists goes.
When the fact of the matter is:
“HUSBANDS AND WIVES ARE DRIVEN TO DRINK FROM OTHER CISTERNS
BECAUSE OF THE RAGING HEAT OF THEIR OWN CARNAL LUSTS.”
God commands us here to DRINK FROM OUR OWN CISTERN ONLY. And again He says:
“And fresh water from your own well.”
The point being that FRESH WATER only comes from your own marriage well. To drink from other sexual wells is to drink dirty, infectious, and deadly water. It will poison your mind and your marriage every time or even just one time. Just one drink could kill you and everyone around you. For sure, to slake your thirsty lust from a strange well is to break your MARRIAGE VOW. Hear me,
“IT IS SLAKE AND BREAK – NOT THE LEAST THE BREAKING OF YOUR SPOUSE’S HEART.”
Fresh water from your own cistern speaks of pure and satisfying marital love and life. God here talks about marital sex being a fountain of purity and exhilaration. Who in their right mind would drink from dirty mud puddles? That is what all extra-marital sex is.
“THE MORE YOU DRINK FROM YOUR OWN CISTERN, SEX, LIKE AN ARTESIAN WELL,
THE MORE IT IS FRESHENED FROM ITS OWN SOURCE, EVEN IN LATER AGE,
IT FINDS THE FLOW TO RUN STRONGER STILL, THOUGH PERHAPS
DRUNK FROM LESS FREQUENTLY.”
After all, when you are 73 years old, you are no longer BILLY THE RAGING BULL and HELEN THE TIRELESS HEIFER. But when you do CONSUMMATE, it will mean so much more if you did not SEXUALLY WATERGATE.
“NOTHING WILL PLUG UP AND DAM UP AND SCREW UP A MARRIAGE
LIKE DRINKING FROM A STRANGE WELL.”
RE-BAR #3 – BE WIDE OPEN TO CORRECTION
Now I am totally convinced that there is a solution in Christ to every problem in our marriages, if we are willing to see them and identify them for what they are. True, JESUS IS THE ANSWER, BUT THE ANSWER TO WHAT? We must first ask the question, “WHAT IS THE REAL PROBLEM HERE?” And then the Lord will have the right answers for us, and the steps that must be taken.
How many of you understand that when we start to address a problem, many times we suddenly go deaf? Especially if we’re threatened! If somebody starts to touch an area that is really close to something that threatens us, there’s a mechanism where our hearing starts to go bad.
“THERE ARE TWO NOBLE SENSES THAT NEVER TIRE OF EXERTING THEMSELVES –
SEEING AND HEARING, THAT IS, IF THE SIGHT AND SOUND
POSITIVELY AFFECT THEM.”
“EYES AND EARS CAN QUICKLY GO BLIND AND DEAF, IF THE SIGHT AND
SOUND ARE CONFRONTED WITH DISTASTEFUL SIGHTS AND
DISCORDANT SOUNDS ABOUT THE SELF.”
Marriage is a continual learning process! It is a JOURNEY, not a DESTINATION. We LEARN MARRIAGE, but we don’t ever GRADUATE FROM MARRIAGE CLASS. NEVER! When husbands and wives become PROFESSORS and not STUDENTS, marriage will fail, for then we have DOMINEERING KNOW-IT-ALL PERSONALITIES and no longer MOLD-ABLE TEACH-ME-MORE PERSONALITIES. Hear it:
“WHEN YOU NO LONGER ALLOW YOURSELF TO BE THE CLAY ON GOD’S MARITAL
POTTER’S WHEEL, THAT IS WHEN YOU AND YOUR MARRIAGE
WILL BECOME MISSHAPEN.”
And where there is growth required, there are always growing pains. I have seen those pains on counselees’ faces too many to number.
II Peter 3:18 tells us,
“To grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior,
I can say this without equivocation that every bit of growth in every area of the Christian life, INCLUDING MARRIAGE, comes from learning and understanding more about Jesus Christ the Heavenly Bridegroom. He alone is the LIVING AND DYING MARRIAGE MANUAL. We as husbands are told to love our wives AS CHRIST LOVED THE CHURCH AND GAVE HIMSELF UP FOR HER. (Ephesians 5:25)
“WHEN YOU LOVE YOUR WIVES LIKE CHRIST LOVES HIS CHURCH, YOU MOVE TO A
NEW AND THE HIGHEST PLANE OF MARITAL LOVE. JESUS IS THE GOLD
STANDARD OF MARITAL LOVE.”
And remember, you will live there with hand-scars in tack, and sacrifice written all over your face and side. It is the only way to marital bliss – GIVING TOTALLY OF YOURSELF TO HER. That starts right away, and means that you don’t hand the baby to her every time there is the first smell and sight of dirt on the baby’s blanket, or in the baby’s diaper. By the say, what did you smell like when Jesus first came to change you?
RE-BAR #4 – GOD HATES DIVORCE – SO MUST WE
Now let me build upon a basic premise. Let me establish this before I go on:
“GOD HATES DIVORCE.”
We read in Malachi 2:16,
“For I hate divorce,” says the Lord, the God of Israel.”
How many believe that? We are told by God in the Bible to hate sin. You who love the Lord, hate sin. God abhors divorce! God despises divorce! God loathes divorce! Why? Because DIVORCE IS SIN. It is not a failure, it is not a mistake, it is not even a NECESSARY EVIL, which is a contradiction in terms. Divorce is just plain evil. For the GOD WHO IS LOVE TO HATE, MEANS THAT WHATEVER HE HATES IS REALLY BAD. It is the pits and comes from the pit. Divorce is not AMORAL – it is IMMORAL.
Let us get this re-bar strongly in place, for the world is telling us that we can always go into marriage with the option of getting out of it if it doesn’t work out.That is Satan talking, because SATAN LOVES DIVORCE. Satan hates everything that God has made and is out to destroy it. Wherever you live and work and play, Satan will be there sticking his slimy foot out to trip you up and make you fall, and bring your marriage down.
Have you ever said about something,
“Oh, I hate that!”
That is what God feels about divorce. He says,
“Oh, I hate that!”
How many understand that if God hates it, then we have to hate it and be against it too. Our God is a FORGIVING AND RESTORING God, not a SEPARATING and DIVORCING God. Divorce is the complete anti-thesis to His very being.
Now having said that, I know that divorce happens, and separations occur in spite of the best efforts of pastors and counselors who try to help. And we could get into a whole teaching on the exceptions and all of that. But I’d like for you to take this basic premise with you:
“WE ARE NOT LOOKING TO GET OUT, BUT WE ARE LOOKING FOR A
WAY TO STAY IN TO COMPLETION.”
Listen to it real good:
“GOD WANTS TO WRITE THE WORD ‘COMPLETED’ FOR EVERY MARRIAGE IN
GREEN GRASS OVER QUIET AND PEACEFUL GRAVES.”
Now I think anybody who understands life and its problems knows this – whether it’s your job or the military or anything else. If you’re looking to get out, you’ll find ways to get out. Isn’t that true? If you want out of your marriage, you’ll find all sorts of reasons to get out. If you don’t like living in Michigan, you’ll find a reason to move. If you don’t like the car you’re driving, eventually you’ll find a way to sell it and get another one. Isn’t that true? That’s human nature.
But our basic premise is, we’re not looking to get OUT of a marriage, but it’s how to STAY IN IT and get THROUGH it, and bring the marriage out of sin’s curse and into Divine blessing. It is not ultimately how you start, but how you finish that makes you a winner. You’ve got to hear this:
“MARRIAGE QUITTERS ARE LOSERS, BUT MARRIAGE KEEPERS ARE WINNERS.”
Hollywood is full of MARITAL QUITTERS AND LOSERS. If there ever was a loser society, this is it. Some of them have been in more marriages than they have been in movies. They have a list of EX’S LONGER THAN THEIR ARM, because their arms are always hugging other men and women, if not simulating sex with them in the nude. LUST AND NO-HOLDS-BARRED ACTING – THE PERFECT STORM FOR DIVORCE! I wasn’t born yesterday! Who are you trying to kid, except yourself? And we pay to watch them in the THEATERS! You thought that the Roman Amphitheater was bad!
RE-BAR #5 – TREAT EACH OTHER GRACIOUSLY
Now I want you to SEE how this relates to the marriage itself. I Pet. 3:7-8 states,
“You husbands likewise, live with your wives in an understanding way…”
Now he’s not talking about understanding feminine psychology. He’s talking about understanding the WORD of God. The K.J.V. says, “Dwell with them according to KNOWLEDGE…”
Now, if we’re moving in Biblical understanding, we understand that the wife is what? We read,
“As with a weaker vessel since she is a woman…”
Of course, WOMEN LIBBERS have scorching fire coming out of their eyes and their ears when they see and hear God’s word about the woman:
“A WEAKER VESSEL.”
Forget that baloney, for:
“I AM WOMAN, HEAR ME ROAR.”
Gazillions of women and men have bought into WOMEN’S LIBERATION. The mantra is well known, EQUALITY, EQUALITY, EQUALITY.” But it has become more than that, for it has now become THE BATTLE OF THE SEXES. If you will:
“ANYTHING HE CAN DO OR SHE CAN DO, I CAN DO BETTER.”
Professional boxing and wrestling proves the point. Now they are talking about women playing in the NFL which is arguably the most violent sport in the entire world. SUPERMAN MY FOOT – WE MUST NOW HAVE SUPERWOMAN TOO.
God says she is WEAKER than man. He made her that way! I know that He isn’t just talking about MUSCLE AND GRIT, but about TENDERNESS, VULNERABILITY, WOUND-ABILITY, and DEEP SENSITIVITY AND IMPRESSIONABILITY both positively and negatively. We are to live with our wives according to the super-sensitive knowledge that God gives us here about them. We as husbands are to love them and guard them accordingly, and not be cruel, clumsy, and calloused dumb heads and buffoons.
The marriage counselor was about to give up on the disgruntled couple, until he heard the wife refer to her husband as “Hon.” He said to the wife, “Things cannot be that bad if you still call him “Hon.” She said to the counselor,
“THAT HAS BEEN HIS NICKNAME FOR YEARS, AND IT IS SHORT FOR
‘ATTILA THE HUN.’”
And brethren, if you mishandle and mistreat your wife, you are in a very serious spiritual fix. WHY? Because he says,
“Grant her honor as a fellow-heir of the grace of life so, that your prayers
may not be hindered.”
In a marriage relationship, husbands and wives are heirs TOGETHER of the grace of life. Even as God has been gracious to us husbands in his loving and forgiving and patient grace in our lives, so we are to honor our wives with that same loving, forgiving, and patient grace in their lives. Listen, if the marriage isn’t doing so good, then somebody is dishonoring and disgracing the other somehow and in some way. Every single time!
Listen to me:
“WE ARE NOT ONLY SAVED BY GOD’S AMAZING GRACE, SO ARE OUR MARRIAGES
SAVED BY GOD’S AMAZING GRACE.”
Grace is undeserved favor, and when spouses hurt us deeply, we are to grace them with love and forgiveness and kindness, just as God graces us every day. Hear it:
“THE BLESSED AND SUCCESSFUL MARRIAGE GOES FROM GRACE TO GRACE,
BUT THE GRACELESS SPOUSE GOES FROM MARRIAGE TO MARRIAGE.”
And then, one of the first things that will dry up in the husband’s ungracious and cruel life toward his wife will be his prayers. Hear me:
“WE CANNOT AND WILL NOT RECEIVE GOD’S GRACE AND MERCY IN PRAYER,
WHEN WE ARE BEING UNMERCIFUL AND UNGRACIOUS TO OUR
WIVES IN LIFE.”
The awful fact is this:
“THERE ARE MANY MEN, AND YES, WOMEN TOO, WHO HAVE SUNK TO SUCH A
LEVEL OF SENSUALITY AND EVEN BRUTALITY, THAT THEY DO NOTHING
ACCORDING TO REASON, LET ALONE ACCORDING TO GRACE.”
Then verses 8 and 9 go on to say that we should walk in a harmonious and humble way, and never give insult for insult, but give BLESSING that we might inherit blessings. None of this TIT FOR TAT – FIRE FOR FIRE – JAB FOR JAB – HURT FOR HURT JUNK.
Now I can tell you from my own marriage relationship that when Ruthie and I are flowing together, our prayers are answered in a way that they are not answered when there is some strife or hurtfulness taking place. It will show up in our lives and in the lives of our children. We reap what we sow in our marriages. Hear it:
“WE CAN EITHER COME UNDER THE GRACE OF GOD, OR THE HARSH
DEALINGS OF GOD.”
I can take you all the way back to Genesis with this principle, and that is that God said there would either be blessings or curses. After the fall God said in Genesis 3:17-18,
“Cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you shall eat of it all
the days of your life.”
“Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you….”
There are many, many marriages that are full of thorns and thistles, and children are brought forth in sorrow. Or, on the other hand, the gracious and mutually honoring marriage brings forth not briers and thorns, but the fruits of JOY and PEACE and ANSWERED PRAYER.
Now then, with those steel rods in place, we can begin to pour the concrete foundation. What I’m about to give to you will be primarily PROBLEM ORIENTED. In fact, I almost retitled this: IDENTIFYING PROBLEMS IN THE MARRIAGE. Now there are some answers in what I’m giving, but basically this teaching is designed to help us diagnose the problem. You CANNOT cure a problem until you know what the problem is.
Some years, ago physicians used to have what they called a shotgun dose that they would inject into people. They’d put a certain number of C Cs of penicillin, and a certain amount of streptomycin, and a certain amount of other antibiotics, and then they’d give this guy a shot of it because they didn’t know what was wrong with him. So they hoped that one of these things would hit it.
But they found out that this didn’t work so good. In fact, they discovered there was a lot of injury because of improper diagnosis or SHOTGUN DIAGNOSIS.
So I’m asking the Holy Spirit to do what He does best in IDENTIFYING some things that perhaps haven’t been exposed to us before. And then rest assured the Holy Spirit, Who brings the diagnosis with pin-point accuracy, can also bring a solution to the problem.
And I would understand these things to be somewhat progressive in nature. They are progressively more difficult as I give them to you. I’ll give you what I would understand to be the EASIEST and MOST BASIC first, and then as we move down the list through these 7 causes of marriage conflict, they will become increasingly more complex. It is also progressive in that each one tends to be BUILT upon the other.
I. INADEQUATE FOUNDATION
Now then, this first one is what I would call an INADEQUATE FOUNDATION. You cannot build the superstructure of the marriage. if the foundation is bad. Let me give you some examples of what I’m talking about.
A. For example, if you’re UNSURE OF THE WILL OF GOD, if you’re not sure that you married the right man or the right woman, then you’ve got a basic foundational problem. Like:
“Boy, I wonder what it would have been like if I’d have married Mary?”
“Man, I think I missed it, I think John was the right one.”
Do you see what I mean? You can’t build a marriage on that kind of shaky foundation. And I might say something without getting into this problem in great detail. I discovered a long time ago:
“MARRIAGE ISN’T NEARLY SO MUCH FINDING THE RIGHT MATE,
AS IT IS BEING THE RIGHT MATE.”
We read a powerful love-principle in I Corinthians 13:5,
“LOVE DOES NOT SEEK ITS OWN.”
“THAT MEANS IN MARRIAGE, I DO NOT SEEK WHAT I CAN GET, BUT
WHAT I CAN GIVE.”
If you will:
“THAT MEANS IN MARRIAGE I DON’T SEEK WHAT MY SPOUSE CAN BE FOR
ME, BUT WHAT I CAN BE FOR MY SPOUSE.”
There it is:
“THAT MEANS IN MARRIAGE I DON’T DEMAND THAT MY SPOUSE BE JUST
RIGHT FOR ME, BUT HOW I CAN BE THE RIGHT ONE FOR MY SPOUSE.”
But when both husband and wife SEEK THEIR OWN SELF FIRST:
“MARRIAGE WILL BE A TASTE OF HELL ON EARTH.”
But when both husband and wife seek TO FULFILL THE NEEDS AND DESIRES OF THE OTHER FIRST:
“MARRIAGE WILL BE A TASTE OF HEAVEN ON EARTH.”
Get that straight right from the start! It is foundational, and when the foundation is SELFLESS, the holy marriage temple will not crack or fall. But when the foundation is SELFISH, the marriage temple will crack and fall for sure.
“THE ENTIRE TEACHING BY JESUS CHRIST ON THE CHRISTIAN LIFE IS
NOT SELF-SERVING, BUT INSTEAD SELF-DENYING. IT IS THE
PRINCIPLE THAT GOVERNS EVERYTHING,
If that isn’t the principle that beats in your heart and governs your life, do not get married. Rather, stand in front of the mirror and blow kisses at yourself for the rest of your life. When you are married to SELF, you cannot be married to SOMEONE ELSE. It is not possible.
B. The second foundational problem deals with SEXUAL INVOLVEMENT PRIOR TO MARRIAGE. Now that may or may not involve a pregnancy, but it might.
It can go something like this! A couple becomes involved sexually. They feel guilty or infatuated or confused or obligated. In any case, they get married. But later she says,
“He doesn’t REALLY love me, He only married me because we were
sleeping together.” (or vice versa)
But the foundation for the marriage is very shaky. So when they get into a pressure situation, he or she is liable to go through all sorts of changes and doubts and confusion.
Or another one goes something like this! They’ve been married about 3 years, and the husband’s starting to work late at night. She says to herself,
“He did it with me outside the bonds of marriage, so he would do it
with someone else.”
She starts suspicioning things & accusing. Trust is broken down and a host of other things can happen. But, again, it’s foundational.
More specifically, why does the Lord right from the beginning say what He says, and in the order in which He says it? Remember Genesis 2:24,
“For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall
cleave to his wife, AND THEY SHALL BE ONE FLESH.”
It does not say:
“FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LIVE WITH HIS GIRLFRIEND, AND SHALL
CLEAVE TO HER, AND THEY SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH.”
No, ONE FLESHNESS, THE JOINING OF THE MALE AND FEMALE BODIES INTO ONE, I.E. SEXUAL INTERCOURSE, is reserved for husband and wife by Divine design. It is clear as crystal from the very beginning. But why?
I taught a “Marriage and Family Perspectives Course” for many years, and in that time I learned a great deal. One day a young couple came in and asked me to marry them. She wanted a church wedding, and that was fine with him. One question I ask all prospective husbands and wives is if they are having sex in their courtship. The girl in this case responded to my very intruding interrogative and said very bluntly,
“YES, WE HAVE SEX ON EVERY DATE, WHICH IS SEVERAL TIMES A WEEK.”
I then proceeded to ask what else they did on their dates. Not much else, except go to a movie now and then, and still they would climax the evening with intercourse, excuse the pun.
I explained to them that not only was it fornication, but that their entire relationship was based on sex. I told them that intercourse before marriage was a barrier to their being able to know each other. And looking at the young man I said to him,
“YOU WILL PRIMARILY BE MARRYING A VAGINA.”
And to the young woman,
“YOU WILL PRIMARILY BE MARRYING A PENIS.”
They were shocked, and needless to say they asked me what I meant. I told them that they had it all backwards, and that:
“PRE-MARITAL SEX DOES NOT OPEN THE DOOR, BUT BLOCKS THE WAY TO
TRUE MUTUAL DISCOVERY OF THE REAL PERSON YOU ARE THINKING
I also discovered that PRAYER together was non-existent. It is very hard to pray constantly and sin constantly too. Why? Because:
“THE LOVE AND PRACTICE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS CAUSES THE SOUL TO RELY
UPON GOD IN PRAYER, BUT THE LOVE AND PRACTICE OF SIN CAUSES
THE SOUL TO DEPART FROM AND EVEN RUN FROM GOD.”
So it is that we read in I Thessalonians 5:17 and 22,
“Pray without ceasing….abstain from every form of evil.”
For you see:
“WHEN YOU ARE LIVING IN SIN, YOU WILL NOT DESIRE TO PRAY, AND IF
YOU ARE UNCEASINGLY PRAYING, YOU WILL NOT DESIRE TO LIVE IN SIN.”
“IF YOU ARE LIVING IN SIN WHICH BRINGS A CURSE, WHY WOULD YOU BE
PRAYING TO GOD TO OBTAIN A BLESSING?”
AND THIS IS HUGE! More than that, they rarely if ever conversed with each other on any significant level. Just heavy breathing and orgasms was their way of communicating. I demanded that they stop having sex immediately until they got married, and I gave them a number of vital issues that they were to talk about together, as well as write down and report their findings.
Within two weeks, the young woman called my secretary, cancelled all pre-marital counseling, for as she went on to say:
“SINCE WE HAVE BEEN DOING WHAT PASTOR BOB HAS REQUIRED, WE HAVE DISCOVERED THAT WE HAVE NOTHING IN COMMON. WE HAVE FOUND OUT THAT WE DIDN’T KNOW EACH OTHER AT ALL, AND THAT WE ARE NOT MEANT FOR EACH OTHER. I HAVE GIVEN THE ENGAGEMENT RING BACK, AND WE WILL NOT BE MARRIED. OUR RELATIONSHIP IS OVER, AND THAT UPON MUTUAL AGREEMENT.”
C. A third foundational problem is when HE OR SHE NEVER “LEAVES HOME.” Do you know what I mean by that? If you’re not sure you married the right one, or perhaps there was too much intimacy, or if a parent perhaps became extensively involved arranging or manipulating the marriage. Mama persists,
“I want you to marry John.”
And it gets very complicated because when the TESTING comes, then the husband or wife finds themselves unable to say,
“Well I KNOW that this man or woman is the will of God for me.”
Now I should probably emphasize here that I’m not talking about parental blessing. That’s an extremely important part of the foundation for a good marriage. In fact, a lack of parental blessing could probably be identified within the foundational problems.
But what I’m talking about here is marrying your mother-in-law or your father-in-law. The Bible says in Genesis 2:24,
“For this reason a man should LEAVE his father and his mother and shall cleave to (whom?) his wife….”
HUGE! LEAVING & CLEAVING! Fact is:
“IF YOU DO NOT LEAVE, YOU CANNOT CLEAVE. BUT IF YOU ARE INDEED
A CLEAVER, YOU ARE FOREVER A LEAVER.”
At the risk of oversimplifying, let me say it this way. There are bad, unhealthy, and we might say even illegal relationships, between a married man or woman and his or her parents that will affect the foundation of the marriage. They will erode the foundation of marital love and oneness. He cannot be married to his sweetheart and his mommy too, even as she cannot be married to her sweetheart and her daddy too. That is a complete violation and erosion of the Lord’s foundation for marriage.
If every time there’s a disagreement, she says,
“I’m going home to daddy.”
Or if he INSISTS on rehearsing and exposing his marital wounds before his Mommy, he hasn’t cut his apron strings! He hasn’t left! Do you understand that there’s a basic foundational problem here that needs to be resolved? And that includes comparing her cooking to his dear mommy, and his income to her dear daddy.
She returned very upset from a visit with the clinical psychologist. “O Momma,’ she cried, “The psychologist said that Joe has a very strong OEDIPUS COMPLEX.” Her mother remained unruffled and totally unsympathetic. She said to her daughter, “Don’t listen to the quack. Your fiancé Joe is a wonderful man. Just look at how much he loves his mother.” *
*Seven Causes of Marriage Conflict Pt. 2 coming soon.