Making Marriage Work
SINCE the marriage arrangement was originated by our Creator, why do so many fail? What can people do who truly want their marriage to work?
The root causes of marriage failures can be found in two areas. The most basic is when a marriage mate ignores the laws and principles for marital happiness that God has given us in his inspired guide, the Bible.—2 Tim. 3:16, 17.
But some will object, saying: ‘Why, the Bible has been in existence in “Christian” lands for centuries, and this has not prevented marriage failures!’
That is true. But there is a big difference between having something and using it. You can have the most nourishing meal in the world in front of you, but if you do not eat it, no good will come to your body. Similarly, merely having the Bible, reading it and quoting from it does not mean a person is living by it. So when you see a marriage fail, know for certain that there has been a failure by one mate or both to put into practice God’s laws and principles for marriage.
Even persons who do not read the Bible but who unintentionally follow a standard similar to it have greater success in marriage. But counting on accidentally finding the key to success in marriage is like boarding a ship that does not have a captain or a rudder and hoping that it will accidentally drift to your desired destination. What you need to get you where you want to go is an experienced captain and a reliable rudder. Similarly, God is the most experienced personage in the universe where human relationships are concerned, and his guidelines are by far the most reliable.
Success in marriage begins by understanding that God created man and woman for somewhat different yet complementary roles. We may liken this to a saw and a hammer. They are different in function, but both are needed to build successfully.
The male was the one created for the role of leadership, of headship, and he is obligated before God to exercise it in a manner that reflects God’s own qualities. (Eph. 5:1, 2, 23; 1 Cor. 11:3) Where there is no proper headship, there is discord and confusion. Unfortunately, many men have abandoned this role, and their wives are frustrated as a result. At times, though, the problem lies with a wife who is too aggressive and competitive, and who wants to usurp her husband’s role. But when each cooperates in his or her God-assigned role, then great harmony can result.
Nor does having different roles make one mate inferior. Is a glass of water inferior, or superior, to a dish of good food? Both are necessary for life. They serve different roles, but cooperate together for the body’s well-being. Similarly, when the husband takes the proper lead and the wife cooperates and supports his headship a right foundation is laid.
However, a husband who wants a happy marriage will not take his role as head to mean that he can be a dictator. That attitude will only produce hostility in a wife. God never purposed for a husband to oppress his wife or reduce her life to a slavelike condition. On the contrary, God’s standard is: “Husbands ought to be loving their wives as their own bodies,” being willing to make sacrifices for them.—Eph. 5:25, 28.
Indeed, God’s “blueprint” for successful marriage says: “You husbands, continue dwelling in like manner with them according to knowledge, assigning them honor as to a weaker vessel, the feminine one.” (1 Pet. 3:7) This means being considerate of their opinions, their likes and dislikes, and not belittling or embarrassing them. Such consideration must extend to the sexual aspect of marriage too. When a husband works hard at being that kind of proper “head,” then his wife will not find it a burden to be submissive if she has the right viewpoint.
A wife who does her part greatly encourages her husband to be a good head. When she is humble and submissive, looks to him for suggestions, does not compete with him, nor belittle him even when he makes mistakes, and consults him before making major decisions, then she makes his role easier and more enjoyable. (Eph. 5:22, 33) One wife who began making a real effort to cooperate in this way said: “I can hardly believe the difference. A few months ago my husband and I were on the verge of splitting up. But today we’re like—well—honeymooners, only better.”
Of course, there is much more to making a success of marriage. For example, there is the need to learn how to cope with human imperfections and mistakes, how to allow for free will to be properly expressed, and how to solve marital problems that do come up. All such matters can be successfully handled by using the guidelines God has given us.*
Being Aware of the Times
As noted, not following God’s guidelines for marriage is a root cause of marriage failures. But there is another contributing factor now. It has to do with where we are in the stream of time.
The Bible clearly identifies this generation as being in its “last days,” bringing “critical times hard to deal with.” The prophecy at 2 Timothy 3:1-5 shows that our era would be characterized by people’s being ‘lovers of themselves, haughty, unthankful, disloyal, having no natural affection, not open to any agreement, without self-control, betrayers, headstrong, puffed up with pride, lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God.’ The news reports daily confirm the fulfillment of this prophecy.
So as we near the end of this present unsatisfactory system of things, human behavior becomes progressively worse. Therefore, huge pressures are generated. This affects marriage, as marriage mates often take out their frustrations on each other.
Lives of Peace and Happiness in God’s New Order
Of great help here is having an accurate knowledge of the Bible, knowledge that shows that God will soon put this system to an end and will replace it with a new order under his direction, one in which “righteousness is to dwell.” (2 Pet. 3:13) In that new order, the Bible shows, people will be able to build a life of peace and happiness the likes of which can only be dreamed about now.—Rev. 21:4, 5.
Thus, those who know about God’s purpose to establish a new order soon, and who are fortified with his guidelines for marriage, find more success in marriage than do any other people on earth. They are better protected from many marital heartaches now, and can look forward confidently and optimistically to a life in God’s new order where all human problems will find satisfying solutions.—Ps. 145:16.
See the book Making Your Family Life Happy, published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.
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Success in marriage begins by understanding the roles for which God created man and woman
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Those who know about God’s purpose and follow his guidelines for marriage find more success in marriage
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