Are there any in this generation who can manage to stay married for more than five years? And if so, can they manage to stay happily married for this long? The more people I come across, the more it seems that my answer is an astounding no. Really. Well, okay, I realize that there are marriages out there that last longer than this, even some happily. Almost always, the successful marriages that last longer, where the couples are actually happy and growing stronger, are strong Christian marriages where Mister and Missus are committed to God’s way of marriage. Unfortunately, not many Christians today are interested in God’s way of marriage, though they say they are. They have the mindset of all the devil’s children, but they go to church and read their Bibles, so they think this makes everything okay. This would explain why one can’t find much of a difference in the divorce rate among unbelievers and believers. In a study from 2007 through 2008,
“The Barna Group found in its latest study that born again Christians who are not evangelical were indistinguishable from the national average on the matter of divorce with 33 percent having married and divorced at least once. Among all born again Christians, which includes evangelicals, the divorce figure is 32 percent, which is statistically identical to the 33 percent figure among non-born again adults, the research group noted.”
I work a customer service job for a major utility company, taking calls that cover three different states. A lot of customers tell me their life stories and the happenings of their lives, especially those calling because they cannot afford their bill. One of the words I hear as frequent as any is the word divorce. I hear it several times each day. It never ceases to amaze me how lightly people talk about it, as if it were no big deal, just like breaking up with their boyfriend/girlfriend in high school (as an aside, this shows why dating is a bad idea). And the people that stay together are always critical of their spouse. They’re usually younger people of my generation (born in the early 80’s) or people who are younger. I have spoken to people who were not yet twenty years old talking about their “ex-husband.” What?! I Have never once had a customer tell me they are celebrating an anniversary of such and such amount of years unless they were much older. And even people from my parents’ generation are getting divorces left and right. Can anyone stay together? What is the problem that leads to this?
No matter what guilt-laden people from this generation (who failed at their own marriage) will tell you, people from times past in this nation did have both successful and happy marriages. They didn’t just drudge through miserably, avoiding divorce because it was a societal taboo (with maybe a few exceptions). There are very specific and easily understandable principles explaining why their marriages lasted for life and were productive and joy-filled.
My wife Holly and I will have been married for ten years this June; and our marriage is much stronger, much happier, and better in every way you could think of, than it ever has been. This didn’t happen by chance. I didn’t “just happen to meet the right person” and that is why it is this way. No. This is nonsense talk from people unwilling to admit their life failures, which is not uncommon in this generation.
Nobody wants to take responsibility for their actions. Nobody wants to admit that they failed or could have, or better yet, should have done better — just like a parent who won’t accept the blame for an unruly or unsatisfactory child he raised and produced. Parenting takes hard work, dedication, devotion, time, and wisdom and obedience from God’s word. The same is true for marriage. People expect for it just to all fall together somehow because they “met the right person” while they worship at the altar of the god of fatalism. Their marriage is based on an emotional high rather than godly principles (real love). So they get a divorce, and try for “somebody better” or “someone who is better for them.” It couldn’t have anything to do with lifestyle, habits, and behaviors! Of course not! How dare you say that! So they move on to their next spouse who is better or “better for them,” and the cycle happens again. We have relatives on their third marriage already. It’s becoming commonplace for such a thing. No, it’s not that chance isn’t smiling upon you, it’s that you are not following God’s way of marriage.
It’s easy to say you are following the Bible and God’s way in marriage and in life. It’s another thing to actually do it. When you are in obedience to God’s will, you will be successful (Psalm 1). The test is in the fruit of your works (Matthew 7:16). I have found that the families and marriages of specific attributes are almost 100 % successful. I will outline some key observations from their marriages that Holly and I have adopted over the years in this article and another article in the future. Thank God for the wise, older Christians who have been there to teach us along the way; otherwise I am not sure if I’d be writing this today.
In Genesis 2:24, the Bible declares that you and your spouse “shall be one flesh.” I am not of the opinion that this is just some kind of mystical, cute phrase that God came up with. When you join together with your spouse you are becoming one person. You are no longer individuals. You are a single unit functioning together. There are no more singular goals, but family goals. This is the pivotal point, and main divider that separates a successful marriage from an unsuccessful marriage. If you and your spouse are working separately, forming your own goals apart from each other, trying to maintain your own life as you may have before your marriage, you are doomed for failure from the start.
We’re not trying to create our own identity. We don’t have separate friends. We are one. We are friends with families, couples, and singles together. If you have a problem with my wife then you have a problem with me, and vice versa. Christians in the 20th and 21st century have fallen prey to the me-first, individualistic, mindset. They probably don’t even realize it. They think it is normal. They will even accuse you of robbing people’s identities. “You’re not letting them be their own person!” they’ll accuse you.
I realize the extreme someone could take this to, just like with any subject. The thinking reader knows what I am talking about here. I am not saying your wife can’t like chocolate ice cream because you don’t. I don’t mean you have to be interested in all the same detailed subjects as one another. But your goals, your dreams, your direction, and so on — they are one. You are one flesh.
Part B, you could say, of the pivotal point for successful marriage, is that you and your spouse need to know, understand, and function within your God-ordained roles. Women are to be “keepers at home” (Titus 2:5) and be in the supporting role as a helper (Genesis 2:18). The man takes the lead and the wife supports him in his dominion-oriented tasks. The wife is not to compete with her husband in the work force, but assist him to his ends. The two strive together for the same goals.
Functioning as one, in your proper, God-ordained roles eliminates a vast majority of any tension that could exist in your household. You’ve got to love all the “Christian” marriage counselors who debate and discuss and offer advice on so many things you and your spouse can do to have a happy marriage. None of them include getting to the root of the problem, which is that the marriage is not founded on God’s order, as I described above. These “counselors” are like people discussing and debating new and different ways to properly mop up the mess caused by a leaky faucet. None of them can gather up the wits to think that perhaps they should find a way to fix the faucet once and for all. If you’d just get the thing fixed, you wouldn’t have to worry about these “solutions” to problems that shouldn’t exist in the first place!
Just as love is a choice and not an emotion, so marriages are made good by the choices of those involved. The foundation for a successful marriage is laid by acknowledging and functioning as one unit instead of as individuals, and by staying within our God-mandated boundaries. This is the vast majority of what it takes to do things right. We plan to discuss some practical ways to enhance and maintain our marriages in a future article.