Together with their family and friends, each couple is full of hopes and dreams for their future life together. But the road to a happy marriage is far from easy. And as today’s divorce statistics demonstrate all too well, many couples opt not to complete the journey.
It would be easy to blame our high rate of marital failure on things like not spending enough quality time together, allowing bitterness and resentment to build in our hearts and failing to keep communication lines open. There’s no end to books, articles and seminars that tell you how to improve these and many other aspects of your relationship. But while quality time, forgiveness and communication are vitally important to creating a happy marriage, if such things aren’t happening, it’s usually a sign of a much deeper problem. And until this problem is addressed, no amount of external behavior modification will work.
To get a hint of what this deeper issue might be, let’s take a look at the following Scripture passage:
One of them, an expert in the law, tested him [Jesus] with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’
This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it:
‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:35-40)
I believe that virtually every marital problem can be traced back to one or both partners failing to abide by these two laws. The same is true of any relationship. The minute we begin to focus on our own wants and needs over those of God or our partner; we’re destined for trouble.
Experiencing communication problems in your marriage? How often do you really focus on listening to what your partner (or God) has to say instead of insisting on more airtime? Feeling bitterness and resentment growing toward your partner? When was the last time you brought him or her before the Lord in prayer and truly thanked God for your relationship? Struggling to find quality time together? How about praying with your partner and asking God how he would like you to use your time?
As you begin to do these things, you’ll notice that your focus automatically starts to shift away from you and your desires and over to God and your partner. As a result, communication problems begin to improve, anger and resentment fade away and you naturally want to spend more time together. Of course, you can’t expect such changes to happen overnight. Your relationship is also bound to face financial pressures, child-rearing issues and other problems that are beyond your control. But if you commit your relationship to God and make a conscious decision each day to put God and your partner first, your marriage will be able to weather any storm. Not only that; you’ll also have plenty of fun together along the way!