By Donald Townsley
Is your marriage as happy as you want it to be? Many marriages today are in trouble and the mates are unhappy. With the high divorce rate in this country, and unfaithfulness to the marriage bed so prevalent, it is clear that many marriages are not what God intended them to be. God never intended that marriage be an unhappy state, but that it be one of the happiest, most fulfilling relationships man would have on this earth (Prov. 5:18-19). When a marriage is in trouble and the companions are unhappy, someone is breaking the laws of God!
God created the man and said it was not good for him to be alone, so he made an help meet for him — woman (Gen. 2:18, 21-22; 1 Cor. 11:9). God then instituted the marriage relationship (Gen. 2:24). The institution of marriage is a divine, monogamous and life- long relationship of oneness (Matt. 19:4-6; Rom. 7:3-4). God said by the prophet Malachi that “he hateth putting away” (Mal. 2:16). Jesus said that there is only one reason for “putting away” and marrying again, and that reason is fornication (Matt. 19:9). Only the innocent party has the right to put away his companion and marry again.
The Husband/Wife Relationship
God ordained that the man should rule over his wife (Gen. 3:16), not unjustly as if she were a slave, but he is to rule her with love (Eph. 5:25, 28-29). This is to be a self-giving concern for her person — a love that seeks her happiness and well-being at the sacrifice of his own interest and welfare (1 Cor. 13:5). The wife is to reverence and submit to her husband (Eph. 5:24, 33; 1 Pet. 3:1), and to love him (Tit. 2:4).
In the marriage relationship the husband and wife become exclusively the possession of each other (1 Cor. 7:2-5). Marriage fulfills one of the greatest needs of mankind — to love and be loved. This relationship brings into the life of each mate fulfillment, satisfaction, and contentment. A fruitful marriage is built upon love, trust, respect, faithfulness, and mutual consideration. Let us now look at some attitudes that will build each other up instead of tearing each other down — attitudes that will sweeten marriage.
1. Express Appreciation to Your Companion. Express appreciation for things that are done whether they be large or small. Look for the good qualities in your mate at all times; don’t just look for the negative — if you do, everything will begin to appear totally negative! If you are to stay in touch with the reality of the good in your companion, you must look for good and express appreciation for it often.
2. Give Honor and Respect to Your Companion. Peter said to the husbands: “Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife as the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered” (1 Pet. 3:7). Paul said to the wives, “And the wife see that she reverence her husband” (Eph. 5:33). Respect begets respect, so if a wife wants to be respected, she must show respect. Disrespect inflames bad feelings and breeds strife. Treat your mate with respect and dignity, and your mate will want to rise to the same level.
3. Be Forgiving. An unforgiving attitude inflames tension and strife. Never form the habit of bringing up past mistakes to put down your companion — this is being unmerciful and unforgiving, and it reopens old wounds. Everyone wants mercy and forgiveness for his shortcomings. Many times we forgive everyone but our mates; the first place forgive ness should be practiced is at home with our companions (Luke 6:36-38; Matt. 6:14-15; Col. 3:13; Eph. 4:32). Both you and your mate are imperfect human beings (1 John 1:8); when you are wrong, why not simply say, “I’m wrong and I’m sorry”? Only an immature and prideful person refuses to admit his shortcomings and sins.
4. Be Helpful and Constructive. Companions should be able to talk honestly with each other and treat each other as best friends (they should be best friends). You want your feelings, needs and opinions to be heard and considered, so does your companion. What does it mean to be a friend? Friendship is a privilege, not a situation with which to gain advantage. When one takes advantage of another there is no friendship; no loving companion will take advantage of his mate. Friends love each other dearly; so do mates who are trying to do God’s will. A friend offers his best to a friend; companions who are what they ought to be offer their best to each other. A friend will go when needed, so will a true and faithful companion. A friend is a holder of confidences; if there is one person on earth one should be able to trust, it is his mate! A friend will have empathy for another; if there were ever two people who should feel each pain of the other it should be companions! A friend will do all he can for another; loving mates cannot do enough for each other!
Marriage Partners are a Team
A healthy, loving husband/wife relationship is not a master/slave relationship. It is a sharing, complementing relationship where each mate recognizes the God-ordained role of each. When each mate realizes they need help, and that they do complement one another, they draw closer and grow to respect and love each other more.
God’s Laws of Marriage Must Be Respected
Break any of God’s laws and they will break and destroy you! Millions are paying painful mental, emotional, and physical penalties for rejecting and transgressing God’s laws on sex and marriage — and most of them will pay eternally with their souls lost in hell! God’s law is plain: “Thou shalt not commit adultery” (Rom. 13:9), and the penalty for breaking this law is always enforced!
Let us look at the penalty: (1) Remorse (Prov. 5:11; Ps. 51:3); (2) Disease of the body (Prov. 5:11; Rom. 1:27); (3) Dishonor (Prov. 6:33); (4) Impoverishment (Prov. 5:10); (5) Spiritual death (Prov. 6:32; Rom. 6:23); (6) The only grounds for divorce (Matt. l9:9); (7) The Lord will avenge (1 Thess. 4:6).
If we who are married will only practice the things we have stated in this article, it will bring sweetness to the marriage relationship.. Try to make your marriage all that God intended it to be.