By Leslie Diestelkamp
In 1975 and again in 1976, there were more than a million divorces in America in each year. Of all those who marry in 1977, at least one-third will end in divorce. This chapter will be devoted to discussion of some things that cause divorce or that otherwise wreck marriages. Of course we can only consider a few such causes, but it is hoped that at least a few people will be better prepared to withstand the prevailing trends so that a few more marriages may indeed endure. These items of destruction we shall mention need to be recognized before marriage and also afterward. “To be forewarned is to be forearmed.” Dangers must be recognized before they materialize into explosive weapons of destruction in family circles.
1. Virtually every marriage is characterized by some disagreements; some of these differences eventuate in arguments or quarrels. But such arguments do not usually bring separations. Certainly they need not cause serious trouble. But accumulative quarreling may destroy the marriage. This is the kind of argument in which one or both may keep bringing up old differences, adding one quarrel upon another. In such cases old wounds never have time to heal but are opened with fresh irritation again and again. We must forgive and forget! Let by-gones be by-gones! If you must argue today, do not look back upon the last quarrel. Let every hasty, angry word of yesterday be forgotten. Let no burning embers remain in your heart from yesterday’s argument. In other words, do not add fuel to an old flame!
2. The social and economic structure of our society, especially that which has developed since World War II, provides too much temptation to too many people. Because men and women work together day after day in very close proximity, those associations that should be only casual often become intimate and frequently lead to overwhelming temptation and also to jealousies. It has been said that “Familiarity breeds contempt” and in this case familiarity becomes too intimate and that intimacy leads to passion and lust. This has~led to tragic immoral corruption. Almost every town has been rocked by such scandals, and every city contains great numbers of people who have thus fallen. The crude, vulgar jokes about executives and their secretaries are not amusing to good people, but the sordid pictures they paint are too often true-to-life regarding many people in all kinds of occupations. And the special point I want to make here is to urge every reader who counts his marriage precious to be absolutely sure that regardless of his work and the necessary proximity to others working with him that he does not permit himself the luxury of intimacy! It will be much better to have been considered cool and aloof than to have been made another victim of too much familiarity.
3. Paul admonished, ‘Defraud ye not one the other, except it be by consent for a time… that Satan tempt ye not” (1 Cor. 7:5). Yet many marriage counselors tell us unsatisfied emotions is a major cause of separation and divorce. One partner may think only in terms of receiving emotional satisfaction and of fulfilling his own passionate desires. But, without taking either for granted, each must give real consideration to the needs of the other, and this must be done freely, even enthusiastically, and certainly not reluctantly. In fact, therein (that is, in satisfying the companion) lies one of the greatest joys of the marriage relationship.
If quarrels are settled and the matter is dropped, if each spouse conducts himself (or herself) in such a way, at all time-at work and at play, at home and away-so as to deserve the trust and confidence of the companion, and if each wholeheartedly participates in every marriage relationship so as to please and satisfy the other, then most other troubles and problems will be overcome. And remember, when there is a joyful home life, other things will usually be all right. Solomon said, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones” (Prov. 17:22).
Solomon also said, “Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing” and I am convinced that the wife that finds a good husband has not done all that bad either! We are made for each other and it is God’s intent that we share the most precious and the most rewarding of all human relationships. But God’s intent can only be fully realized when each can face the other with a clear conscience, a clean heart and a pure body.
Furthermore, the greatest success cannot be attained in the marriage companionship merely because of romantic appeal, emotional release or even because of a passive fidelity that precludes unfaithfulness. to the spouse. Rather, to assure success, each partner must live every day by a solemn commitment that was made before the wedding and that we reiterated constantly thereafter. This determination must include tolerance for the faults of a companion, patience with the other’s weaknesses and compassionate kindness for one another. Satan tries constantly to wreck your marriage, you know, and he is wise to all the subtle temptations and all the aggravating frustrations which the world can cast in your pathway. The devil will be happy if he can make you unworthy of the love and trust of your companion, and he will be just as glad if he can make you unwilling to forgive an unworthy spouse! He wants to destroy the real sanctity of your home and the peace and harmony you should have there; and he does not care how he does it. Besides that, he knows that you are the only one that can prevent that destruction. Do not let him get a foot-hold in your family circle! Watch out for the little things that can become home wreckers! Next: “Stop The Clock.”
Truth Magazine XXII: 7, p. 114
February 16, 1978