How to Have a Better Marriage

2. Why Marriages Fail?

Scenario B: Showing How to Have a Better Marriage

It’s Saturday morning and Jon wants to play golf with his buddies. He rolls out of bed and tells Lisa that he’s leaving and won’t be back until about 4 p.m. Lisa acts surprised and says, “I thought we were going on a picnic today!”
“Oh, can’t we do that tomorrow?” Jon says, his voice on edge. “Anyway, I haven’t played golf in two weeks. It’s such a beautiful day. I’m out of here!” Jon shuts the door hard on the way out.
Lisa feels snubbed and after shedding some tears, she stomps angrily through the apartment and throws the pillows on the couch across the room.
“You jerk!” she yells, wishing she could tell Jon to his face just how angry she feels.
Lisa decides to go for a walk, and by the time she passes through a park, her hurt and anger are subsiding. On her way back home she’s able to pray, “Dear Jesus, I’m really mad at Jon and think he’s being selfish. Please help me not to be selfish, too, and let my anger get out of control.”
Lisa decides to call a girlfriend and they make a date for an early lunch and some shopping. While at the mall, Lisa buys a new outfit.
Meanwhile, Jon is finishing the front nine of his golf round. He and his buddies stop for a sandwich and drink at the club snack bar. Jon notices how pretty the girl behind the counter is, but he just gives her a friendly smile and walks to join his friends. Earlier this morning Jon had thought Lisa was pretty whiney and clutching on to him — unfairly wanting to keep him from a good time with his buddies. But now Jon feels guilty for how he treated her. He’s not enjoying himself.
“Hey guys,” Jon announces, “I’m going to quit for today and go home. I need to spend some time with Lisa.” Two of his friends tease him, but Jon sticks with his decision.
When Lisa gets home at 1 p.m., she’s surprised to find Jon sitting at the kitchen table. She notices the picnic basket is out and half-filled with food and drinks.
Why are you home so early?” she asks, the hurt still evident in her voice.
“I’m sorry for the way I acted this morning,” Jon says. “I wanted to play golf and didn’t care about your needs. I guess I was being kind of selfish. Will you forgive me?”
Lisa bites her lip. She’s still hurt, but Jon looks like he’s really sorry. And it’s pretty incredible that he quit his golf round early. “Yes, I forgive you,” Lisa says quietly.
As they hug, Jon says, “Could we kind of start this day over? I came home early thinking we might still have time for that picnic? Do you want to go?”
Lisa resists the temptation to pout and make Jon “pay.” Instead she smiles and nods her head.
The day turns around for both Jon and Lisa. The anger has been cleansed from both of them. Their relationship feels as fresh as the earth after a spring shower. In both of their lives Jesus has been at work, first showing them how to live and then giving them the strength to deny themselves and forgive — two actions essential to love but very difficult to do consistently and authentically without help.
Of course these two scenarios offer just a surface view of a complicated interpersonal situation, but they do illustrate why God’s involvement individually in the lives of a husband, wife, and their marriage makes such a difference. The Christian faith is not simply a collection of principles and rules — it’s a living, moment-to-moment interaction with God through which we receive guidance and power to live life the way it was designed to be lived.

There’s No Need for Your Marriage to Fail – Listen to God’s Word

God is very clear in the Bible about the destruction of divorce, about the need to humbly consider the other person’s needs above our own, about being truthful with each other, about avoiding sexual immorality, and much more. But being told what to do does not necessarily mean we will want to do it. His guidance is often different from what we would feel like doing (for example, telling your spouse the truth at a time when lying would appear very useful). But repeatedly couples have found how wise God is, and how smart it is to trust and follow His blueprints for building relationships.
For example, God still says that marriage needs to come before sexual intimacy. Yet in our culture 64% of college students in a poll agreed with this statement — “Living together as a couple before getting married is a good idea.”5 Many of these students watched their parents’ marriages fall apart and reason that “trying out” the relationship seems like a good idea.
So why does God put marriage before sexual involvement? Because He wants us to experience lasting, fulfilling intimacy. How can two people feel secure enough to be totally vulnerable — a requirement for deep intimacy — in an environment where either person can bail out at any time? Research shows that the divorce rate is actually higher among those who live together before marrying later.6 God’s wisdom is unerring, it’s always right. And always God’s directions come from His caring, protective love for us.

“But God does not merely want to be a marriage counselor, dispensing advice into our lives. He wants us to know Him, to be in relationship with Him, and to trust Him.”

God Can Guide You Toward a Better Marriage

But God does not merely want to be a marriage counselor, dispensing advice into our lives. He wants us to know Him, to be in relationship with Him, and to trust Him. In order to faithfully love someone else, He says we first need to experience His unconditional, faithful love for us.
Prompted by His love for us, God did something remarkable on our behalf. We’ve talked about how our selfishness separates us from one another, and it especially separates us from God who is holy and perfect. The Bible says “your sin has made a separation between you and your God.”7 No amount of good deeds or effort on our part can erase our sin before God’s eyes. Worse, there is a penalty for our sin…death. It means eternal separation from God, even after our earthly life. And there is nothing we can do to fix it. His standards require perfection, and we don’t measure up. However, God’s justice is accompanied by His tremendous love for us — demonstrated by the solution He provided.
Jesus Christ, who is God in human form, came to pay the penalty of death for our sins. Jesus also came to teach us God’s ways and to give us a meaningful life. But primarily He said His purpose for coming as a man was to die in our place. He fully paid for all of our sins — my sins, yours, the whole world’s — when hanging on a cross (a Roman form of execution), so we may be forgiven. After being buried for three days, Jesus physically came back to life. Many eyewitnesses went on to tell the world about Him and the life God offers us.

Just as Marriage is a Free Choice, God Offers You a Relationship with Himself, Freely

It is not up to us to work for God’s acceptance. He offers us a relationship with Him as a free gift. It is our choice whether we want to receive His forgiveness and enter into a relationship with Him. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me.”8 He wants to come into our lives, but again, it’s an individual decision we need to make. If marriage is a significant decision, this is even more so. Do you want to have an eternal relationship with God and allow Him influence in your life? Do you want to be guided by His wisdom and supported by His strength?
If so, you can ask Him into your life right now. Just as a couple are not married until they actually make that public commitment of “I will,” beginning a relationship with God is also a knowledgeable act of the will. Jesus said, “Behold, I stand at the door [of your heart] and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in.”9 The Bible says, “But as many as received him, to them he gave the right to become children of God.”10
Would you like to know God’s love for you and ask Him into your heart? This might be a way you can express that to Him: “Lord Jesus, I want you in my life. I want you to guide me, and forgive me for all of my sins. Thank you for paying for my sins on the cross. I now ask you to come into my life. Thank you for your promise that you would come into my life, if I opened the door, which I am now doing. Thank you that now I can begin to really know you. Amen.”
If you sincerely prayed this, you have begun a relationship with God. What effect can this have on your marriage problems? Now that you know why marriages fail, you now are able to ask God for guidance, for his wisdom and ability to love your spouse. You can have a love-filled marriage. Like all husbands and wives, you will make many mistakes and sometimes you will need to exert strenuous effort to have a great marriage. But, as you rely on Him, God will give you the strength and vision needed to love your mate in a selfless, forgiving manner and experience a better, lasting marriage.

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