Let God Be in Your Marriage
“A threefold cord cannot quickly be torn in two.”—Eccl. 4:12.
1. What Scriptural principle stated at Psalm 127:1 can be applied to marriage?
THE need for Jehovah God to be in every undertaking of ours is stressed time and again in the Scriptures. Thus we read at Psalm 127:1: “Unless Jehovah himself builds the house, it is to no avail that its builders have worked hard on it. Unless Jehovah himself guards the city, it is to no avail that the guard has kept awake.” The long history of the nation of Israel bears out the truth of that principle. When Israel let God be in their affairs by giving him exclusive devotion, their efforts to protect themselves from their enemies were successful. But when they abandoned his pure worship to follow other gods, their guards watched over their cities in vain. The same principle applies to our making a success of marriage.
THE GRACIOUS GIFT OF MARRIAGE
2. Why can marriage be viewed as a gracious gift?
2 God’s Word tells us that he is the Giver of “every good gift and every perfect present.” (Jas. 1:17) Among such good gifts and perfect presents must be included the gracious gift, the blessing, of marriage. What a potential it has for bringing happiness! It truly is one of the greatest blessings the Creator has bestowed upon mankind. No wonder that when finally Eve was presented to Adam he exclaimed: “This is at last bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. This one will be called Woman, because from man this one was taken”!—Gen. 2:23.
3. What did one lawyer have to say about God’s gift of marriage?
3 Adam could rejoice over the blessing of a loving companion, someone of his own kind with whom he could converse, work, plan—she was his perfect complement! Additionally, the connubial joys that go with marriage are indeed an evidence of our Creator’s wisdom and love. Well did lawyer I. Linton point to the way God created man and woman as proof that man was not the product of a blind evolution. Linton wrote:
“The kindness and infinite skill of the God who declared it was not good for a man to be a bachelor, in putting into man’s heart the love of woman and into woman’s heart the love of man, in making them mentally, physically and emotionally so alike as to be companionable and yet so unlike as to supplement and be intriguing to each other, has always stirred my gratitude and my admiration as an unequivocal evidence of creative design; and the peace and happiness growing out of the marital relation when God is in it has given some idea of the skilful power of God to bring happiness into being.” (A Lawyer Examines the Bible) Note, “when God is in it.” This can be true if we let God be in our marriage.
4. Why can it be said that the blessing of marriage is an evidence of God’s impartiality?
4 This gift and blessing of marriage is also an evidence of God’s impartiality and of his justice. How so? In that these joys of marriage, when God is in it, do not depend upon such mundane things as material wealth, a higher education, great physical strength or beauty of form and feature. Neither are marital blessings limited to any race or nationality, nor are they dependent upon any climate. Whether couples live in the polar regions or in the tropics makes no difference.
LETTING GOD BE IN YOUR MARRIAGE
5, 6. What is included in having God in one’s marriage?
5 Solomon wrote: “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their hard work. . . . And a threefold cord cannot quickly be torn in two.” (Eccl. 4:9, 12) A marriage can be likened to a cord tying a couple together and, when we let God be in it, it is truly a ‘threefold cord not easily torn in two.’ What does it mean to let God be in your marriage? Ostensibly, marriage partners are concerned with contributing to each other’s joys and pleasures, to satisfying each other’s needs. The husband is concerned with pleasing his wife and bringing her joy, comfort and security, and the wife is concerned with ministering to the needs of her husband and pleasing him the best she can, even as the apostle Paul notes. (1 Cor. 7:33, 34) To let God be in your marriage means to be concerned with measuring up to his requirements for married couples. Stated in brief, they are: “Wives, be in subjection to your husbands, as it is becoming in the Lord. You husbands, keep on loving your wives and do not be bitterly angry with them.”—Col. 3:18, 19.
6 More than that, to let God be in our marriage means for both mates to have a warm personal relationship with Jehovah God, never neglecting prayer together. Share with him your joys, sorrows, disappointments, trials. Be concerned with giving him as a Person pleasure and gladness of heart. At Psalm 147:11 we read: “Jehovah is finding pleasure in those fearing him.” And God tells us at Proverbs 27:11 that by being wise we can make his heart glad. So we want to be concerned, not just with his requirements for us, but also with how he feels about the way we heed them. Letting God be in our marriage will immeasurably strengthen it and assure us of success and happiness. Yes, then it is “a threefold cord [that] cannot quickly be torn in two.”—Eccl. 4:12.
THE REQUIREMENT OF KINDNESS
7. Why is kindness required for us to let God be in our marriage?
7 Among the things that God requires of all his earthly creatures, and which has special meaning for marriage mates, is that they be kind to one another. Jehovah God himself sets the example for us, even as his Word assures us that “he is kind [even] toward the unthankful and wicked.” (Luke 6:35) In fact, over a hundred times we read in his Word of his “undeserved kindness,” and almost twice as often of his “loving-kindness.” To have this kindly God in our marriage we must heed the counsel at Colossians 3:12: “Clothe yourselves with the tender affections of compassion, kindness, lowliness of mind, mildness, and long-suffering.”
8. What is one of the simplest and most basic ways in which marriage mates can be kind to each other?
8 How can we show kindness to our mates and thus let God be in our marriage? To be kind means to minister to the needs of another. It means to be thoughtful, considerate of each other’s well-being. Since, as a rule, we do not like to be alone, one of the most basic and simple ways in which we, as a married couple, can be kind to each other is by sharing our presence, our company. By just being together, we can build each other up, make each feel needed and appreciated. In one marriage that broke up after many years the wife was prone to take long vacations apart from her husband.
9, 10. (a) What are some of the things Christian husbands and wives should want to do together? (b) In what other ways can marriage partners manifest kindness toward each other?
9 Just being together is good, but better still is doing together as many things as possible. Do you read the Bible on a personal basis? Why not read it aloud to your spouse? Do you prepare for Christian meetings? To the extent practical, why not prepare the lessons together? Do you, the husband, have a part on the program? Why not rehearse it aloud with your wife playing the role of the audience? Sit together at meetings, as well as at other times. Share in the formal Christian preaching work together. All of these are further ways in which we can show kindness, strengthen our marriage and let God be in our marriage.
10 It is also a kindness for marriage mates to talk to each other, letting each other know what is in the heart and mind. Yes, this means not just exchanging information or ideas but also sharing the way each one feels about things. Give thought to mentioning upbuilding things in your conversation, in keeping with the proverb: “The tongue of the wise ones is a healing.” (Prov. 12:18) A married couple not only is of one flesh, but also should be of one mind and heart, even as Jesus prayed that his followers might be one. (John 17:21) Communication is imperative for such oneness.
11. What fine Scriptural advice should couples follow when there are hurt feelings?
11 In particular is it a kindness to talk things over when there have been misunderstandings or hurt feelings. Jesus stated a principle regarding human relations that couples often overlook or neglect to their harm. Do you feel that you have been treated unkindly or wronged in some way? Then in the spirit of Matthew 18:15 summon up the courage to bring the matter up at an opportune time, doing so in a kind and tactful way. You might even take a lesson from Queen Esther, who tactfully prepared her husband before presenting a weighty matter to him. (Esther 5:1-8; 7:1-10) Or, is the shoe on the other foot, so to speak, and does it seem that you have offended your loved one? Then do not ignore it, but humbly, kindly and tactfully bring the matter up in the spirit of Matthew 5:23, 24. Thus peace, harmony and happiness may be restored.
12. What can be said about the need for one marriage mate to listen when the other talks?
12 However, kindness includes not only talking, conversing with each other, but also respectfully listening. That means paying attention when the other mate speaks. Well has it been said that listening is an art. We want to listen not only to understand the meaning of the words but also to note the feeling with which they are said. More than that, to be good listeners we must take note of what is not said. Yes, husbands and wives should be good listeners. It is unkind to pay little attention when one’s mate is talking. True, at times there may be a little difficulty because the one speaking might more or less just be thinking out loud instead of really trying to communicate. If this seems to be a problem, then get into the habit of prefacing your remarks by some direct address, such as “Dearie,” “John,” “Mary.”
13. What is one of the best ways that marriage partners can show mutual kindness?
13 Furthermore, one of the very best ways in which marriage partners can show mutual kindness is by heeding the apostolic injunction: “Become kind to one another, tenderly compassionate, freely forgiving one another just as God also by Christ freely forgave you.” (Eph. 4:32) And in showing the mercy of forgiveness do not do so begrudgingly, but “he that shows mercy, let him do it with cheerfulness.” (Rom. 12:8) Doing so is letting God be in your marriage, for we read that he ‘forgives in a large way.’ (Isa. 55:7) If we are forgiving when our mate transgresses, it is easier to expect forgiveness when we ourselves transgress. Not without good reason has it been said that ‘a happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers.’
BEING HONEST WITH EACH OTHER
14. What is another quality Christians must display to let God be in their marriage?
14 God’s Word shows that its great Author is also a just, a righteous, God. It says of Jehovah: “The Rock, perfect is his activity, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness, with whom there is no injustice; righteous and upright is he.” (Deut. 32:4) For us to let God be in our marriage we must also be just, honest with each other. Basically this means to go by the Golden Rule: “Just as you want men to do to you, do the same way to them.”—Luke 6:31.
15. Particularly in what respect should husbands and wives be concerned over honesty with each other, and what circumstances tend to make this difficult?
15 Honesty involves many things. Obviously, it involves money matters, which may present a challenge to both husbands and wives. However, it involves far more important things, in particular sex interest. It is easy for a husband to let his desire go wandering, especially in view of all the temptations facing him daily, from both unrighteous persons and the unclean media. Just as Jehovah God requires exclusive devotion on the part of his servants—his “name is Jealous”—so husbands and wives have the right to exclusive devotion as to the sex interest of their mates, and they are obligated to demonstrate such themselves. (Ex. 34:14) Proverbs 5:15-20 has very frank, forceful and pointed counsel for husbands in this regard. On the other hand, wives need to be careful to heed Paul’s counsel at 1 Corinthians 7:3-5 and not use the marital due as a pawn to get what they want in the way of clothes, and so forth.
16. For couples, who sets the example in display a·gaʹpe, and why is it so essential?
16 Jehovah God is the personification of principled love, of unselfishness, a·gaʹpe in Greek. That is why we read that “God is love.” So to let God be in our marriage there is the need to have not only the love based on natural attraction, sex interest (eʹros), and the affection based on kinship of mind and spirit (phi·liʹa), but also the unselfish principled kind of love. This love will keep a marriage together, even if the other two kinds of love diminish.—1 John 4:8.
17. What light does Paul’s description of marriage throw on marital obligations?
17 The apostle Paul at 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 gives a fine description of how this love manifests itself: “Love is long-suffering and kind. Love is not jealous, it does not brag, does not get puffed up, does not behave indecently, does not look for its own interests, does not become provoked. It does not keep account of the injury. It does not rejoice over unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” In view of those words of Paul, we cannot escape the conclusion that to be a good Christian means to be a good marriage mate. Conversely, to fail in marriage reflects unfavorably on one’s being a Christian. Problems in marriage are to be viewed as challenges to cultivate the fruits of the spirit, chief of which is love. (Gal. 5:22, 23) And remember, “LOVE NEVER FAILS”!
18, 19. (a) What does a·gaʹpe require of a wife? (b) A·gaʹpe will cause a husband to treat his wife in what manner?
18 What does principled, unselfish love require of a wife? It requires that she recognize her husband as her head. (Eph. 5:22-24) This may not always be an easy thing to do, but love will help her; it will make it easier to put her husband’s interests ahead of her own. For example, there are loving wives who, knowing that their husbands must follow a certain diet, simply do not prepare any dishes that their husbands cannot share with them. They know that doing so actually works no hardship on their own selves, in fact, might even be better for them.
19 What does unselfish love require of a husband? It requires that he heed the counsel: “Husbands, continue loving your wives, just as the Christ also loved the congregation and delivered up himself for it. In this way husbands ought to be loving their wives as their own bodies.” (Eph. 5:25, 28) What a great deal this asks of a husband! Just as he takes good care of his own body as to food, clothing, shelter, rest, recreation and spiritual interests, just so he should care for his wife. As he would not want to embarrass himself before others, neither should he embarrass his wife before others. Loving her as his own body would include dwelling with her according to knowledge, being kind and considerate as to the more intimate aspects of marriage. Never should it be that he could be charged with having violated his wife.—1 Pet. 3:7.
20, 21. (a) The application of what other Scriptural principles will show that God is in one’s marriage? (b) What is the next subject to be considered, and why?
20 What opportunities for happiness there are in the marital state! Jesus said “there is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving,” and this principle also applies to married persons. (Acts 20:35) How many opportunities for giving husbands and wives have, giving of themselves, their time, their attention, their thoughts, their feelings, giving material things! And in their relationship also the principle applies: “He that sows sparingly will also reap sparingly; and he that sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” Heed all such counsel and you will let God be in your marriage.—2 Cor. 9:6.
21 Yet time and again even professedly dedicated married Christians come short in these respects. Because of this it is necessary to deal in a forthright manner with the following subject: “The God of Love Hates a Divorcing.”