By Leslie Diestelkamp
An abundance of mutual love is the greatest safeguard for the marriage. This is not a small, superficial love that flies out the window as soon as poverty comes in the door, nor is it so weak that it is pushed aside even when wealth comes to husband and wife. But it is a deep, abiding love that overcomes every obstacle and that prevails over every problem. It contributes to understanding, it assures patience, and it rises above envy and jealousy.
This love of which I now write must be mutual if it is to be a major factor in- success. Too many wives have given themselves to a lifetime of devotion to a man who could hardly have cared less. And some men may have spent a lifetime serving a woman who loved everything in the world except her husband. Rejected love and / or neglected love may indeed turn cold, so a one-sided love is not an assurance of success at all, for it may soon be a marriage without any love at all.
Understand what I say: do not assume that your own love alone will suffice, for if your spouse does not reciprocate with a meaningful and responsive love for you, then your own love may actually become tired and sick and may die. Let each companion nurture, cultivate and shield his own love, and also that of the spouse. Never take love for granted, for we are told that it is only a fine line which separates love and hate, and that love lost may soon be hatred. If you do not believe this, please observe those who now demonstrate real hatred for those whom they loved so much only a short time ago.
Love is like a roaring lion that will drive away the enemies of peace and tranquility, but at the same time it is like a delicate orchid that can be crushed with one blow and that can hardly survive neglect. Love will survive quarrels and arguments, if genuine peace is made afterward. Indeed, love will endure offenses, if humble apologies are offered and if actual reconciliation is achieved. Remember, there is no ointment that will heal so well the wounds that come to every marriage as the healing balm of a sincere “I’m sorry.”
But successful marriages must overcome the devastating blight of materialism. Dollars and cents, farms and factories, houses and bank accounts, cars and furniture-these and many other material things become stumbling blocks over which many ‘Marriages trip. The obsession to get, to have, to keep, to spend, to use and to flaunt drive some husbands to disaster and some wives to ruin. When the wife will not be content with the husband’s support, when she nags him for more and more and more, when she spends more than he can pay and when she drives him out to work two jobs, etc., she may indeed be driving a wedge in the family circle. Likewise, when the husband spends for foolish and hurtful things-for drink, for gambling, for too many cars that are too fancy, and for many other unnecessary items that deprive the family of important things, he thus may be signing the death certificate for his home life.
The precious marriage joys cannot be bought with money nor can they be maintained with the things money can buy. But obsession for money and for its purchasing power may indeed buy failure. The country is full of people whose marriages were wrecked by neglect which resulted from materialistic pursuits. I think it would be safe to assume that a high percentage of marriage failures are among those who are most successful financially, but whose success resulted from undue devotion to money-making with its consequent neglect of family “togetherness.”
Occasionally we hear of a marriage that was saved because someone gave up a lucrative, attractive and / or desirable career. But more frequently we hear of marriages that were wrecked because someone would not give up such aspirations. Home is often sacrificed on the altar of fame and prominence. Souls are cast adrift, without the chart and compass that good home circumstances should provide, all because someone determined to maintain a career at all cost.
Any career that separates the husband and wife too much-or, for that matter, the parents from the children-is not a wise career to pursue. It can, at best, bring only worldly success that soon vanishes away, and at worst it can bring eternal ruin in hell because it has ruined the marriage, the home, and even the character.
Jesus said, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Mt. 6:33). Paul said, “. . . seek those things which are above …. Set your affections on things above” (Col. 3:1, 2). For husbands and wives and for fathers and mothers, devotion to the highest ideals of the family circle is one way of seeking “the things which are above.”
Jesus said, “What is a man profited if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul” (Mt. 16:26). We could safely say, “What is a man profited (or a woman either) if he gains the whole world and loses his family?” He will have lost most of life’s satisfactions, and, most of all, he will have placed his eternal soul in jeopardy. Next: “Fathers of Our Flesh.”
Truth Magazine XXII: 9, p. 146
March 2, 1978