More and more studies are showing how important it is to have a healthy relationship with your spouse. Statistics show that happily married people are better adjusted, more successful, healthier, and even wealthier than their unhappily married counterparts.
Despite these statistics, the majority of couples still struggle – and even divorce – because of conflicts involving money, intimacy, friends, in-laws, child rearing and other common issues. That doesn’t mean strife and conflict have the right to rob you of the blessing God intended your marriage to be!
Since God is the originator of marriage, His Word is the best source of help for dealing with marital issues. While the Bible doesn’t promise you a problem-free marriage, it does give you guidance and counsel to help you through them.
God designed marriage to be “for keeps.” He said, “Therefore, shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife; and they shall be one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). It wasn’t by accident that He used the word “cleave.” It means to “stick together like glue”.
His plan is for one man and one woman to be together – to be adhered together as if by glue (not Velcro) – for one lifetime. This requires that the man and the woman commit themselves to each other for their entire lives. It sounds perfect, don’t you think?
But your marriage, like every other, is made up of two imperfect people, and imperfect people do not make perfect marriages. Still, whether your marriage needs a little “tweaking” or seems beyond repair, there is hope that it can be better.
Hope in the Lord
Most couples try to resolve problems as they arise, but after time and many repeated disappointments, hopelessness can set in. When that day comes, it’s like the straw that broke the camel’s back. The frustrated spouse thinks, “If nothing is going to change, why should I keep trying?”
Don’t give up hope if you are at that point!
All things are possible with God. In Ephesians 1:18-20, as Paul prayed for the believers, he prayed that they would know “…what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places.”
Think about it: we serve a God who was able to resurrect His Son from the dead. And He makes that same resurrection power available to you – and your marriage!
So if your marriage needs “a little tweaking” or seems beyond repair, put your trust in God. Let Him be the source of your hope. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV). Hope can be to your marriage what a transfusion is to someone who has lost a great deal of blood!
Dealing with Conflict
According to the Bible, conflict is rooted in selfishness. James 4:1 says, “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?” (NIV) In the flesh, people think of themselves first. When both of you want the same thing, there is no conflict, but when there is disagreement, selfish desires can lead to disputes.
This really gets out of hand when both spouses refuse to change because they are upset with the other person. If you look at the situation honestly and objectively (as if it were someone else’s), it is much easier to see your part of the problem. But, too often, we only see our spouse’s part, and we refuse to change because we’re mad at them.
Did you know that psychologists tell us that every couple has about 10 issues they will never resolve? This is true even when two people love the Lord and each other. So, even if you were to get a divorce and remarry, you would still have irresolvable issues. Obviously divorce is not the answer!
A Better Way
One of the foundations of Christianity is this: “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). As believers, we should follow His example. We should give up our own selfish desires even when our spouse is not acting the way we feel they should.
Don’t fall into the trap of “I’ll change when my spouse does.” Selfishness is sin. If you are wrong in an area, it is best to admit it and quit it. Even when your wrong is smaller than your spouse’s, ask God to show you how you can improve the relationship. Is there is something you should be doing? Do it whether or not your spouse does the right thing.
When you are willing to set aside your own desires, strife will begin to be suffocated. Remember, the goal is not to be the one who is right. The goal is to have a happy marriage. So when a dispute arises, ask God to show you how you can be part of the solution rather than part of the problem.
Beginnings of Peace
When you pray, you welcome God into the situation, and He promises to bring His peace with Him. Philippians 4:6-7 tells us, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (NIV).
If you and your spouse are both Christians, it’s ideal to pray together about issues as they come up. It’s not always an easy thing to do, but it is always effective. As difficult as it may seem at the time, humble yourself and suggest prayer before things become too clouded by emotions. You’ll find that it’s nearly impossible to stay mad at each other when you pray together – peace is on the way.
Even if your spouse is unsaved, you can still pray. Romans 4:17 refers to our God as the “one who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were.” When God speaks, miracles come! If He could raise His physically dead Son from the grave, He can certainly raise a spiritually dead spouse to a place of new life in Christ!
Words Are Important
God’s Words are not the only words with power. Proverbs 18:21 tells us that, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” Your words have the ability to create or destroy. That’s why it is so important to choose your words wisely.
Words like, “I wish I’d never married you,” destroy the security and commitment of your relationship. They are like weeds that threaten to choke and hurt your spouse.
If you want to “harvest” a better marriage, you need to plant better seeds. Begin to deliberately say things that line up with God’s Word and your commitment to your spouse. Saying something as simple as, “I love you. I’m committed to our marriage and I believe that God will help us with our problems” can make a huge difference!
Only God can change a person. But as you pray for your spouse and deal with your own issues, you’ll experience more of God’s peace. Remember that your fulfillment comes from your relationship with the Lord. Your hope in Him will sustain you as He works to change your spouse.
One definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result. If something in this brief teaching has spoken to your heart, put it into practice. As you do something differently, there is great hope of achieving a different result. There is hope for your marriage!