A happy marriage is more than the "I Do" on the wedding day!! Yes,...even for Christian mates.
It is hard work and can be a lengthy process.
I feel I have something to contribute after some 40 years of marriage and raising 4 children.
Believe me, no successful marriage is arranged in heaven.
God made men and women capable of making marriage work! It does not come effortless.
Many of us enter marriage with impossible dreams and unrealistic expectations.
No one could tell us about the flaws in our choice of a spouse. We were in love and our love would surmount all obstacles.
Romance and mutual attraction are important for a happy marriage, and should not be overlooked. But you cannot live on love, no matter how romantic that sounds.
Romantic love is not enough when you and your spouse lack what it takes to sustain a relationship as intimate and as spiritual as marriage.
Courtship and marriage may begin with romantic love, but for a long-lasting relationship, romantic love must be complemented by mature spiritual love.
Special personal qualities are crucial for a happy relationsip: commitment, sensitivity, generosity, consideration, loyalty, responsibility, trustworthiness.
Mates need to cooperate, compromise, and follow through with joint decisions. They have to be resilient, accepting, and forgiving. They need to be tolerant of each other's flaws, mistakes and peculiarities.
Marriage is much more complex than many of us thought!
What then is the LOVE it takes to sustain a marriage?
The God-like LOVE. The LOVE described in:
John 13:35... By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
John 15:12... Jesus said: Love one another, as I have loved you.
Romans 12:9... Let love be without hypocrisy.
Galatians 5:22, 23... But the fruit of the Spirit is Love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, temperance; against such there is no law.
1 John 4:7,8... Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is LOVE.
1 Peter 4:8... And above all things have fervent love for one another, LOVE will cover a multitude of sins.
Galatians 5:14... For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7... Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
The common denominator in any Christian marriage is Jesus Christ. Only through Him and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit can we have this kind of LOVE.
So, first of all each one has to develop this LOVE relationship with the Father, through Jesus Christ. Get established in your faith. Don't forget, the scriptures are attainable, or else it would not be in God's Word! You have to learn to submit yourself and all your ways to the Lord. Allow Christ to live in you, through the Holy Spirit. If you do not know how that works, be obedient to the Word, go on your knees and ask God to take over and fill you with His Holy Spirit.
Be sincere in your prayers, mean business and have faith that He will answer your prayers.
Colossians 3: 18,19... Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.
1 Peter 3: 7... Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.
Ephesians 5:21... Submitting to one another in the fear of God.
The Apostle Paul compared marriage with the relationship of Christ and the Church. Christ submitted his will to the Father, and He said: Not my will, but yours be done. (Luke 22:42)
It may be the most difficult challenge of our lives, but that is what Christ expects from us as well, that we submit our wills to Him and to each other.
Submissiveness is a basic principle of Christianity. Through submission, it is possible to live in peace with our neighbor..yes...with our husbands. Submission to each other is the expression of a successful relationship.
Godly submission though, is not a harassed wife finally giving in to her brow-beating husband, or visa versa. That kind of submission leads to resentment and anger. When there is the God-like Love there is NO bossing around.
The PRINCIPLE is mutual consideration and service to the other.
Through submission, it is possible for one man and one woman to love each other for their entire lives.
1 Corinthians 7... This chapter is mainly about marriage, read it for yourself.
1 Peter 3: 1, 2... Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without talk by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.
The above scripture is for the wife with a non-Christian husband.
Ephesians 5: 23... For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and He is the Saviour of the body.
Proverbs 31: 10-31... Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies.
Forgiveness is the third principle for long lasting relationships.
Luke 17:3-4... If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, I repent, forgive him.
Along with love and submission, forgiveness of that magnitude also must come from Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit. To forgive someone over and over are acts of faith. That does not mean that the mate, who needs forgiveness, can keep on living in sin!!
Colossians 3:13... Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another....Forgive as the Lord forgave you!!
That means we have to learn to say: I forgive you... and really mean it. We are to be in a forgiving attitude before someone asks for our forgiveness. Or even if she or he doesn't.
Forgiving also means not dredging up past sins. Let go of the garbage of the past!!
Let's face it. Life is not perfect. Marriages are not perfect. Just because we are Christians does not mean we have our lives all together.
In fact, being a Christian means we are even more aware of how hard it is to hold our marriages together in a world hostile to God.
If we fail in our endeavors, as Christians, we will get right back up and go on with our lives.
We will receive forgiveness from The Lord and should receive forgiveness from our spouse.
God expects us to continue to grow and overcome, to learn from what we suffer.
Through the marriage relationship we can grow and become mature Christians. What better way to learn to truly Love, to truly Submit and to truly Forgive than through this most intimate relationship.
I have only touched, what I believe, are the most important principles to make a marriage successful, but this is by no means exhaustive.