THE KEY TO SUCCESSFUL MARRIAGE / MATRIMONY
Delivered by ASE Joseph Olorunnisola, December 17, 2006.
The dictionary defines love affair as an affinity between two persons. The life long love affairs is what God designs for husband and wife.
You may be single trying to prepare yourself for marriage. You may be divorced and want to prevent the pain you went through if you re-marry. You may be currently in marriage and struggling with minor and/or major problems to save the marriage. The desire and prayer of every reasonable individual is to have a lifetime of uninterrupted love and commitment. The relationship you want can happen but not by accident. The desired result can only occur by doing it right, and not by dreaming it right.
Marriage is God’s greatest gift to humanity. It is the mystery of living as one flesh with another human being (Eph. 5:31-32). Marriage is first and foremost about love. It is bound together by the care, need, companionship and values of two people which can overcome hurt, immaturity and selfishness to form something better than what each person alone can produce. Love is at the heart of marriage as it is the heart of God himself. (1 John 4:16) Yet, love is not enough. The marriage relationship needs other ingredients to grow and thrive. Those ingredients are freedom and responsibility. A world starving for the reality of love can see it manifest through your marriage if these ingredients are present.
When two people are free to disagree they are free to love. When they are not free to disagree, they live in fear and love dies. Perfect love drives out all fear (1 John 4:18) And when two people take responsibility to do what is best for the marriage love can grow when they do not, one takes on too many responsibilities and resents it, the other one does not take enough and becomes self-centered or controlling. Freedom and responsibility problems in marriage will cause love to struggle and like a plant without good soil, the relationship will become unfriendly, moody, and suspicious.
Marriages must also have structure and boundaries otherwise it will collapse or at best become a simple co-habitation.
Age is not an index of maturity. There are a number of young ones who handle their marriages with maturity. They live happy, and successful loving, and caring lives. Whereas, there are older people who still exhibit a lot of immaturity resulting in daily matrimonial crisis.
The Triangle Boundaries:
Freedom – we are created free
Responsibility – He gave us responsibility for our freedom.
Love – He asks us to love Him and love ourselves.
As love for God and one another grows couples become more free from things that enslave them – self centeredness, sinful partnership, hurts and other self imposed limitations. Don’t be a silent sufferer –speak out. You have the responsibility to love one another, care for one another. Don’t take ownership of your spouse. Don’t assert control, you don’t have the power to change someone else, but you can influence him/her. Respect must be reciprocal.
It is not good for man to be alone Gen 2:18
A man will leave his mother and father and be united to his wife. Mark 10: 7-8. We are created by love, to live in love, for the sake of love.
Your values are the determinant of your marriage shape. If you value something in a relationship, you will not tolerate anything that destroys that value and you will always make sure that it is present and growing. And because of these values, the relationship takes on an identity and forms a character of its own. What you value happens to your relationship and what you don’t is absent.
The following seven ‘values’ are considered critical for the success of any marriage. If you pursue these seven values, exalt and magnify them, your marriage shall remain anchored on solid, unshakable rock. Most couples’ greatest values are happiness and comfort. I am not advocating misery and I hate pain, but I do know this. People who always want to be selfishly happy and pursue it above all else are some of the most miserable people in the world.
1. Love of God
Love God with all your heart and strength. Mark 12:30. Prov. 1:32-33: But the turning away of the simple will slay them and the complacency of fools will destroy them. But whosoever listens to me will dwell safely and will be secure without fear of evil. Job 2:8: Those who regard worthless comfort forsake their own mercy. Jonah 2:8 As the author of love and creator of marriage, His provisions includes love affairs that is full of drills and joy, and lasting satisfaction for all couples that make God the center of their priorities. But if you reduce God to an extra tire, or triple ‘A’ that is only relevant in time of trouble your marriage will remain a turbulent wave of the Sea that knows no permanent peace or rest. The whole duty of man is to worship and serve God and keep His commandments. Indeed, any marriage without Christ at the center of its priorities, is like a flight or ship without Compass – it will flounder about. If, as married couple, you have no time to worship and serve God, your marriage will continue to experience gradual and continuous spiritual decay, physical derailment, and financial/economic frustration.
2. Love for your spouse:
The greatest second commandment is loving your neighbor as yourself. The love that builds a marriage is the kind of love that God has for us. It is called ‘agape’. Agape is love that seeks the welfare of others. It is concerned with the good of the other person. What does this agape love mean in marriage? It means 3 things:
Ø -You so deeply identify with your spouse that you feel the effects of your own behavior on your spouse. To love someone as yourself is to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and experience what it feels like. This empowers you to seek the best for the other person because it puts you in touch with her/his life. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Math 7:12. (golden rule)
Ø -Loving your spouse as yourself means, making the life of your spouse better. Your spouse (him or her) has been working hard all day. What about giving her relief in other areas like care of the kids, cleaning the house, cooking, taking money out of the joint budget for the development of the other spouse?
Ø -Intervention when you are most needed. Taking responsibility even for the folly of the other – Gen 3:12. “The woman you gave to me”. But then he did not kick her off. Accepting responsibility for the error of your spouse is a major mark of maturity and divine love.
The act of lying is much more damaging than the things that are being lied about. Gen 2:25: And the two were naked and they were not ashamed. If he could just tell the truth, I could handle it, but not all the surprises. Anything large or small is forgivable and able to be worked through in a relationship except deception. Be honest to your spouse.
A faithful spouse is one who can be trusted, depended upon and believed in and one in whom you can rest your faith. Not only being faithful with your body but being faithful emotionally, morally etc. The Hebrew word ‘batach’ means to be so confident that you can be carefree and care-less. In other words, you don’t have to worry. You can be rest assured that what was pronounced shall be done and what he/she needs to do, they will do it. Physical unfaithfulness means adultery – giving yourself to someone else sexually. You can also commit emotional adultery-you can have an affair of the heart. An affair of hearts means taking aspects of yourself and intentionally keeping it away from the marriage. Your spouse becoming disgusting to you because you have become emotionally infatuated to someone else. Dividing yourself, love, passion and commitment between your spouse and your parents is also an act of unfaithfulness.
5. Compassion and forgiveness:
We can expect failure and sin even from the best and most religious people in our lives. However no failure is larger than grace. The person you love the most and have committed your life to is guaranteed to hurt you and fail you in many ways because he is imperfect. Eccl. 7:20 says there is not a righteous person on earth who does what is right and never sins.” Everyone who sins breaks the law, in fact sin is lawlessness. (1 John 3:4) The question is then – what next - you can beat him up for his imperfections or you can love him/her out of it. Love covers a multitude of sins 1 Pet 4:8. No hurt exists that love cannot heal. But for all these miracles to occur there must be compassion and tenderheartedness. Compassion means to stoop or bend in kindness to an inferior. Your stronger position at any point in time is to help the weak and not to hurt him/her. The position may be reversed tomorrow. Galatians 6:1. Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly beloved, clothe yourself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another, and over all these virtues, put on love which binds them together in perfect unity, Colossians 3:12-14.
Ø Confession and ownership of the problems in each individual.
Ø A relentless drive towards growth and development.
Ø Giving up anything that gets in the way of love.
Ø Surrendering everything that gets in the way of truth.
Ø A heart that is totally devoid of hatred, bitterness, grudge and pride.
Ø A purity of heart where nothing toxic is allowed to grow. It is the kind of purity and trustworthiness from which the deepest kindness of passion flow.
Communication is the life wire of any enduring relationship - whether religion, business or politics. Where the communication line is dead, in-active or one way, there will be suspicion, mistrust, rumor and mis-information. Communication between you and your spouse must be active, lively, open, and truthful. You must create quality time for your spouse, when both of you should withdraw from your traditional environment for a few days retreat at an holiday resort. This is often an unconscious period of vow renewal essential to strengthening your relationship. It is not a period of business, social or outer-family discussion; it is a quality time for you and your spouse.
Also very crucial is the need to keep your parents, siblings, and friends out of your misunderstandings. You can only grow, mature, and stabilize your matrimony by learning to settle your differences without the third parties.
ASE Joseph Olorunnisola.
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