“Love never fails.”—1 CORINTHIANS 13:8.
1, 2. Do marriage problems mean that a marriage has failed? Explain.
MARRIAGE is a gift from Jehovah. It can make a person’s life happier. Still, every marriage will have its problems. It might even seem as if the problems will never end, and a husband and wife may not feel as close as they once did.
2 We should not be surprised if our marriage has difficulties from time to time. Yet, difficulties do not mean that our marriage has failed. Even couples who had very serious problems have found ways to heal their relationship and make their marriage stronger. How?
DRAWING CLOSER TO GOD AND TO EACH OTHER
3, 4. What can sometimes happen in a marriage?
3 Marriage brings together two different people, each with his or her own likes and dislikes, ideas, and ways of doing things. Also, the husband and wife may come from different backgrounds or cultures. It takes time and effort for a couple to get to know and understand each other well.
4 As time goes by, a husband and wife can become so involved in their own personal concerns that they drift apart. It might seem as if they are living separate lives. What can help them to become closer?
5. (a) What can help a Christian to draw closer to his or her mate? (b) According to Hebrews 13:4, how should we view marriage?
5 Jehovah provides excellent advice that can help you and your mate to draw closer to him and to each other. (Psalm 25:4; Isaiah 48:17, 18) He tells us: “Let marriage be honorable among all.” (Hebrews 13:4) Something that you view as honorable is precious and valuable. You protect it and do not take it for granted. That is how Jehovah wants us to view marriage.
LOVE FOR JEHOVAH CAN HELP YOUR MARRIAGE
6. What does Matthew 19:4-6 tell us about Jehovah’s view of marriage?
6 Jehovah performed the first marriage. His Son, Jesus, said: “Have you not read that the one who created them from the beginning made them male and female and said: ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and his mother and will stick to his wife, and the two will be one flesh’? So that they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has yoked together, let no man put apart.” (Matthew 19:4-6) From the very beginning, Jehovah intended for marriage to be permanent. He wanted families to be close and happy and to enjoy life together.
7. How can husbands and wives strengthen their marriage?
7 However, married couples today face more stress and pressure than ever before. Sometimes the pressure is so great that they think their marriage can’t be saved, and they give up. But understanding how Jehovah views marriage can help us.—1 John 5:3.
8, 9. (a) When should we follow Jehovah’s guidance on marriage? (b) How can we show that our marriage is precious to us?
8 Jehovah’s guidance is always for our good. As we have seen, he advises us: “Let marriage be honorable.” (Hebrews 13:4; Ecclesiastes 5:4) If we follow Jehovah’s direction even when it is difficult, we will definitely benefit.—1 Thessalonians 1:3; Hebrews 6:10.
9 Because our marriage is precious to us, we want to avoid doing or saying anything that could damage it. Instead, we want to make our relationship with our mate stronger. How can we do that?
HONOR YOUR MARRIAGE BY WHAT YOU SAY AND DO
10, 11. (a) What serious problem exists in some marriages? (b) Why is the way we speak to our husband or wife important?
10 There are various ways a person could cause pain to his or her mate. We know that Christians should never hit their mates or do anything to harm them physically. Yet, we might hurt one another with our words. Words can become weapons. One woman said: “My husband strikes me with words. I may not have visible bruises, but his constant cutting remarks, such as ‘You’re a burden!’ and ‘You’re worthless!’ have scarred my heart.” One husband said that his wife constantly put him down with her words and called him names. He said: “I can’t repeat in polite company the things she says to me. That’s why I can’t talk to her and why I stay at work so late. It’s a lot safer than coming home.” Abusive speech, saying cruel and unkind things that cause emotional pain, is common today.
11 When a husband and wife speak cruelly to each other, it causes emotional wounds that take a long time to heal. Clearly, that is not how Jehovah wants a husband and wife to treat each other. But it is possible to hurt your mate without even realizing it. You may feel that you are kind to your mate, but how does your mate feel? If something you said hurt your mate, would you be willing to change?—Galatians 5:15; read Ephesians 4:31.
12. What can affect a married person’s relationship with Jehovah?
12 The way you speak to your mate, whether in public or in private, matters to Jehovah. (Read 1 Peter 3:7.) James 1:26 reminds us: “If any man thinks he is a worshipper of God but does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he is deceiving his own heart, and his worship is futile.”
13. What is another way that someone could hurt his marriage mate?
13 There are other ways a couple should be sensitive to each other. For example, how would your mate feel if you began to spend a lot of time with someone else? Although it might be for an innocent reason, such as working in the ministry or helping with a problem, would your mate feel hurt? One Christian wife said: “To note that my husband gives so much time and attention to another sister in the congregation hurts me. It makes me feel inferior.”
14. (a) What basic truth do we learn at Genesis 2:24? (b) What should we ask ourselves?
14 As Christians, we have responsibilities toward our parents and the brothers and sisters in our congregation. Still, when we get married, our main responsibility is to our husband or wife. Jehovah said that a husband “will stick to his wife.” (Genesis 2:24) Our mate’s feelings should be very important to us. Ask yourself: ‘Am I giving my mate the time, attention, and affection he or she needs and deserves?’
15. Why should married Christians avoid becoming too close to someone other than their husband or wife?
15 If we become too close to someone other than our husband or wife, it will put stress on our marriage. We could become emotionally attached to and develop romantic feelings for the other person. (Matthew 5:28) Those feelings could grow and cause you to do something that dishonors your marriage.
“LET THE MARRIAGE BED BE WITHOUT DEFILEMENT”
16. What command does the Bible give about marriage?
16 After saying: “Let marriage be honorable,” the Bible says: “Let the marriage bed be without defilement, for God will judge sexually immoral people and adulterers.” (Hebrews 13:4) Here, “the marriage bed” refers to the sexual relationship between a husband and wife. (Proverbs 5:18) How can we show respect for this relationship and not defile it?
17. (a) How do many people today view adultery? (b) How should Christians view adultery?
17 Some people today do not think that there is anything wrong with being unfaithful to their mate. We cannot let ourselves be influenced by that attitude. Jehovah makes it very clear that he hates sexual immorality and adultery. (Read Romans 12:9; Hebrews 10:31; 12:29) If we were to have sex with anyone other than our husband or wife, we would defile our marriage. We would show that we do not respect Jehovah’s standards, and we would harm our relationship with him. So we must avoid taking even the first step that could lead to adultery. This includes avoiding improper thoughts about another person.—Job 31:1.
18. (a) Why is adultery like worshipping false gods? (b) How does Jehovah view adultery?
18 In ancient Israel under the Law of Moses, adultery was a very serious sin, as serious as worshipping false gods. The punishment for both was death. (Leviticus 20:2, 10) How was adultery similar to worshipping false gods? If an Israelite worshipped false gods, he broke his promise to be faithful to Jehovah. If he committed adultery, he broke his promise to be faithful to his mate. (Exodus 19:5, 6; Deuteronomy 5:9; read Malachi 2:14.) Clearly, in the past, Jehovah viewed adultery as a very serious sin.
19. What can help us be resolved not to commit adultery?
19 What about today? Although we are no longer under the Law of Moses, Jehovah’s view of adultery has not changed. Just as we would never worship a false god, we should never be unfaithful to our mate. (Psalm 51:1, 4; Colossians 3:5) If we were, we would dishonor both our marriage and our God, Jehovah.—See Endnote 26.
HOW TO MAKE YOUR MARRIAGE STRONGER
20. How can wisdom benefit a marriage?
20 How can you make your marriage stronger? God’s Word states: “By wisdom a house is built up, and by discernment it is made secure.” (Proverbs 24:3) A house can be cold and empty or warm, comfortable, and secure. It is similar with a marriage. A wise person will make sure that his or her marriage is secure, pleasant, and enjoyable.
21. How can knowledge make a marriage stronger?
21 Speaking of that house, the Bible continues: “By knowledge its rooms are filled with all sorts of precious and pleasant treasures.” (Proverbs 24:4) What you learn from God’s Word can change your marriage for the better. (Romans 12:2; Philippians 1:9) When you read the Bible and our publications together as a couple, discuss how you can apply what you learn. Look for ways you can show each other love and respect, as well as ways to be kind and thoughtful. Ask Jehovah to help you develop qualities that will strengthen your marriage and make you more lovable to your mate.—Proverbs 15:16, 17; 1 Peter 1:7.
22. Why should we show love, respect, and honor to our marriage mate?
22 We should do everything we can to treat our husband or wife with love, respect, and honor. Then our marriage will become warmer and stronger. And most important, we will make Jehovah happy.—Psalm 147:11; Romans 12:10.