Making Your Marriage Work

By COGwriter

Many people are married, some happily, while others struggle. There are even struggles in happy marriages. What does the Bible teach about marriage?

The Bible is clear that God created marriage.

Marriage is one of the great blessings God has given us. It can be a "great blessing," if the relationship is built and maintained properly.

Marriage is good to be part of.

The Book of Proverbs says:

22 He who finds a wife finds a good thing,
And obtains favor from the Lord. (Proverbs 18:22)

Jesus endorsed marriage and said:

34 The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage. (Luke 20:34)

Many are married and many more are interested in becoming married. But there are several things all should know. (Here is a link to the video sermon: You Can Make YOUR Marriage Work.)

Men and Women are Different

Men and women look different and have various physical differences that can be readily determined.

However, women and men also have different wiring in the sense that they tend to think differently--and this is not as obvious.

I would also add that because women normally have greater hormonal flucuations than men, that this affects their behaviour in ways that men sometimes do not understand.

Science is figuring out that men and women have differently wired brains. Notice a report from 2014:

It turns out that men’s brains may literally be wired differently than those of women. Researchers say the differences could explain why the sexes seem more suited to certain types of tasks than their counterparts. For example, women seem to be hardwired for multitasking.

Using imaging techniques, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania found men tended to display neural activity in one hemisphere of the brain for certain activities, while in women the activity bounces across hemispheres.

“These maps show us a stark difference – and complementarity – in the architecture of the human brain that helps provide a potential neural basis as to why men excel at certain tasks, and women at others,” said Ragini Verma, PhD, an associate professor in the department of Radiology at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

The study shows that, on average, men are more likely better at learning and performing a single task at hand, like cycling or navigating directions, whereas women have superior memory and social cognition skills, making them more equipped for multitasking and creating solutions that work for a group.

Past studies have shown sex differences in the brain, but the neural wiring connecting regions across the whole brain that have been tied to such cognitive skills has never been fully shown in a large population, the researchers said.

The study imaged brain activity of 949 people, 521 females and 428 males, using DTI imaging. DTI is water-based imaging technique that can trace and highlight the fiber pathways connecting the different regions of the brain, laying the foundation for a structural connectome or network of the whole brain.

Researchers found that in the cerebrum, the largest part of the brain, females displayed greater connectivity between the left and right hemispheres. Males, on the other hand, displayed greater connectivity within each hemisphere.

By contrast, the opposite prevailed in the cerebellum, the part of the brain that plays a major role in motor control, where males displayed greater inter-hemispheric connectivity and females displayed greater intra-hemispheric connectivity.

These connections likely give men an efficient system for coordinated action, where the cerebellum and cortex participate in bridging between perceptual experiences in the back of the brain, and action, in the front of the brain, according to the authors. The female connections likely facilitate integration of the analytic and sequential processing modes of the left hemisphere with the spatial, intuitive information processing modes of the right side.

The findings meshed with other University of Pennsylvania studies in which females outperformed males on attention, word and face memory, and social cognition tests. Males performed better on spatial processing and sensorimotor speed. Those differences were most pronounced in the 12 to 14 age range.

“It’s quite striking how complementary the brains of women and men really are,” said Dr. Ruben Gur. “Detailed connectome maps of the brain will not only help us better understand the differences between how men and women think, but it will also give us more insight into the roots of neuropsychiatric disorders, which are often sex related.” http://www.voanews.com/content/mens-and-womens-brains-are-wired-differently/1802730.html

While we in the COGs have long taught this type of thing, it is nice when scientists catch up more on this (though some scientists have reported this type of thing in the past, this study helped confirm that belief).

However, despite the differences, God expects marriages to last.

Husbands Have Rights and Responsibilities Too

Men become known as husbands when they marry. The Bible shows that husbands have responsibilities towards their wives in marriage:

19 Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them. (Colossians 3:19)

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. 28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. (Ephesians 5:25-29)

18 Let your fountain be blessed, And rejoice with the wife of your youth. 19 As a loving deer and a graceful doe, Let her breasts satisfy you at all times; And always be enraptured with her love. (Proverbs 5:18-19)

33 Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. (Ephesians 5:33)

So:

7 Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered. (1 Peter 3:7)

Christian men are to try to be understanding and are to give honor to their wives.

The late John Ross Schroeder wrote:

Bad marital habits can easily become ingrained. But human beings are capable of cultivating good habits as well as bad. Husbands can learn always to address their mates with obvious warmth and affection. They do it with workmates all the time. If they don't learn how to converse with their spouses in a more civil manner, they are courting disaster. It's as simple as that. (Schroeder JS. When the kissing begins to stop. Plain Truth, September-October 1983)

Husbands should spend time with their wives and try to properly communicate with them.

Wives Have Rights and Responsibilities

Women have marriage rights:

10 If he takes another wife, he shall not diminish her food, her clothing, and her marriage rights. (Exodus 21:10)

The above rights make it clear that a woman, even if a man was to take another wife (which he should not do: Deuteronomy 17:17; Matthew 19:4-6), is entitled to what she needs to live (such as food and clothing) and marital relations.

As far as marital relations go, the Bible teaches:

4 Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge. (Hebrews 13:4)

As far as wives responsibilities, there are several, but we will start with the following:

18 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. (Colossians 3:18)

While many like to emphasize the submission aspect of the above (and it was the topic), notice that the submission is to be "as is fitting in the Lord." Thus, there are clearly limits in how wives are to be submissive.

Notice also:

11 Likewise, their wives must be reverent, not slanderers, temperate, faithful in all things. (1 Timothy 3:11)

1 Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, 2 when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear. 3 Do not let your adornment be merely outward — arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel — 4 rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. 5 For in this manner, in former times, the holy women who trusted in God also adorned themselves, being submissive to their own husbands, 6 as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, whose daughters you are if you do good and are not afraid with any terror. (1 Peter 3:1-6)

22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. 24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. (Ephesians 5:22-24)

33 ...let the wife see that she respects her husband. (Ephesians 5:33)

Christian women also have responsibilities to love and respect their husbands. John Ross Schroeder wrote:

The Woman's Responsibility

Up to now we have focused this article on the husband's responsibility in marriage. But generally speaking, today's woman has a full and equal share of the blame when things go wrong in a marriage. Movies like "The World is Full of Married Men" may have given some a false impression. Don't you believe it. Those who are made of "sugar and spice and everything nice" have made many a marriage go wrong.

Historian W.E.H. Lecky once observed that "Marriage gives either party an extraordinary power of injuring each other. " Women have no idea how much pain they can inflict upon a man. A snide remark that cuts through a man's natural masculine pride can injure him down to the core of his being.

Many a man delights in the role of protecting and supporting his woman. Because of the way societies in this world are structured, a man's income might not immediately cover all of the luxuries his mate may want. He may realize the problem and be working on a way to increase the family income. A wife who impatiently nags and complains about lack of income is injuring her mate more than she realizes.

The wife's problem in today's world may emanate from a number of erroneous role models. Wonder Woman, The Bionic Woman and the girls in Charlie's Angels hardly convey the correct image of the ideal woman.

James Dobson described the new woman in his book, What Wives Wish Their Husbands Knew About Women. "She roars around the countryside in a racy sports car, while her male companion sits on the other side of the front seat anxiously biting his nails. She exudes self-confidence from the very tips of her fingers and for good reason; she could dismantle any man alive with her karate chops and flying kicks to the teeth... In short she is virtually omniscient, except for a curious inability to do anything traditionally female such as cook, sew or raise children."

Wives unconsciously imbibe these modern images and the traditional sex roles are thereby confused. Let's face facts. Homemaking is no longer a coveted role in the Western world. More men than we like to think open their front doors to view a colossal mess in the lounge or living room. The wife was too busy with career ambition and self-fulfillment projects to keep the house tidy. Some men have to pick up after their wives. What a shame! (Schroeder JS. When the kissing begins to stop. Plain Truth, September-October 1983)

Of course, in the Church of God, most women do not fall completely for these modern stereotypes, but all are affected by the societies they live in and some improper attitudes do affect real Christians.

Get the Marriage Off to the Right Start

God realized that human beings would have trouble communicating, etc. in marriage. One statute He implemented had to do with the first year of marriage.

Notice what the Bible teaches:

5 "When a man has taken a new wife, he shall not go out to war or be charged with any business; he shall be free at home one year, and bring happiness to his wife whom he has taken. (Deuteronomy 24:5)

This indicates that spouses should not be separate as far as out-of-area trips go. It does not mean that one should not work (that would be in violation of Exodus 20:9, 1 Timothy 5:8, and 2 Thessalonnians 3:10-12).

Partially, because of Deuteronomy 24:5, I turned down a job that would have required out-of-area business travel in 1981--the year my wife Joyce and I got married. I also taught this passage to our sons (cf. Deuteronomy 6:6-7), and the only one who has gotten married followed it as well. While he sometimes had a couple of trips, he took his wife with him on those trips.

Notice also that the Bible says that the husband is to attempt to bring happiness to his wife that first year. Not that the husband should stop after the first year, but by striving to bring happiness to his wife, the husband should develop good habits that will help insure a successful marriage.

And if you did not start your marriage off right, you should at least try to make up for it.

God Created Marriage

There have been some of what I consider to be rather bizarre emails on the internet about marriage.  Various ones have indicated that God did not create marriage and that fornication is fine.

Those that believe the Bible have a different view. 

God created marriage and forbids fornication, and also forbids homosexuality.

The Bible is clear that right after Eve (the first modern woman) was made a marriage took place.  The Old Testament records:

18 And the Lord God said, "It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him." (Genesis 2:18)

21 And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. 22 Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man.

23 And Adam said:

“This is now bone of my bones
And flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called Woman,
Because she was taken out of Man.”

24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. (Genesis 2:21-24)

A woman does not become a wife until after she marries.  Marriage existed from the beginning of modern womanhood.

The New Testament is also clear that God created marriage from the beginning:

4 And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Matthew 19:4-6)

Notice that God made humans male and female for marriage.  The human body is “not for fornication” (1 Corinthians 6:13, KJV), nor for homosexual relations (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).

The Bible shows that God is love:

8 He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. (1 John 4:8)

16 And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him. (1 John 4:16)

And God created marriage, for many reasons, including to increase the amount of love in the universe.  Husbands and wives are to love each other:

31 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”  32 This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.  (Ephesians 5:25-33)

1 But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine: 2 that the older men be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patience; 3 the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things —  4 that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed. (Titus 2:1-5)

5 But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him.  (1 John 2:5)

Jesus’ word was for married couples to stay together, and He had the Apostle Paul record (as the above shows) that husbands and wives are to love each other.

Fornication (sex outside of marriage) and homosexuality, along with other sins, are specifically prohibited in the Bible:

3 But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; 4 neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. 5 For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not be partakers with them.  (Ephesians 5:3-7)

9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.  (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)

Having sex before marriage never should be allowed, and certainly was not God’s plan from the beginning.  Sex produces children and should only be engaged in by two people committed enough to each other to raise the children. The fact that there is now birth control does not change that sex can produce children–there are also emotional, disease/health, and other carnal reasons not be involved with fornication.

God did not create humans to be sexually immoral:

18 Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. (1 Corinthians 6:18)

Sexual affection is to be part of a marriage:

2 Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband. 3 Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband. 4 The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. 5 Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. (1 Corinthians 7:2-5)

Notice that the above is a responsibility for both husbands and wives.

God does not want wives tossed aside as they get older and also wants properly raised children:

14…Yet she is your companion
And your wife by covenant.
15 But did He not make them one,
Having a remnant of the Spirit?
And why one?
He seeks godly offspring.
Therefore take heed to your spirit,
And let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth.  (Malachi 2:14-15)

The Bible calls a woman a wife by covenant.  And that covenant is a marriage covenant.

Fornication and other forms of sexual immorality deal treacherously and are not intended by their participants to produce godly offspring.

Marriage is to Picture a God-Plane Relationship

Revelation 19:7-9 teaches that Christ will hold a marriage supper with the Church--there is a marital relationship between God and the Church.

Based upon his review of the Bible, the late Herbert W. Armstrong correctly concluded that marriage pictures what he referred to as a "God-Plane relationship" as the following he wrote clearly states:

Marriage and family life is a God-plane relationship.

Man's potential -- the purpose for human life on this earth -- to be born into the Kingdom of God -- the God family!

Down through history, the philosophers, the great minds, the priests -- cut off from God's revelation -- have sought in vain to reason out in their minds some meaning to human life -- some purpose for our being. The true answer has been written all along, in God's Word.

Animals reproduce -- but animals do not marry. Animals do not enjoy the blessings of home and family life.

Angels do not have sex (Matt. 22:30) and do not marry. Of all life forms -- whether plant, animal or angel -- none has been given this God-plane relationship of marriage and family life, except humans who are potential heirs of the God family.

God is more than one Person. There is only the one God -- but that God is a family of more than one divine Person -- having the Father at its Head -- Jesus Christ as His divine Son -- those converted up to the time of Christ's coming in power and glory, as Christ's wife -- and those converted and changed to divine immortals afterward, during the Millennium, as the divine children of that union.

Man's stupendous potential is to enter divine family life!

Man's super colossal reason for being is to be married to Christ.

Marriage is of God!

Marriage is for man -- as well as for God -- because man was made in God's likeness, to bear His divine image!

Marriage is a most sacred supernatural blessing -- and (apart from the clearly defined biblical standards) its dissolution is a capital sin, imposing the penalty of capital punishment! -- eternal punishment! Eternal death! Unless each repents -- turns from the sin -- and receives salvation by God's grace through Christ.

Marriage was given mankind to prepare us for eternal life in the divine God family! Two of the Ten Commandments of God's basic spiritual law directly and specifically protect the sacred marriage state.

There can be no more wonderful physical blessing in this mortal human life than a happy marriage, based on true love, honors integrity and faithfulness -- especially when there are growing children to love, care for, teach, and rear in the nurture and admonition of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Marriage helps people develop character.

It helps us learn more about love. Love is important:

1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.

4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.

11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.

13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:1-13)

Single people, while they have unique ways that they can contribute to the Church and live, do not have the same opportunities to learn love as married people do. This does NOT mean that single people must marry, but that life shows us that married people have certain opportunities to learn about love that singles do not. Having a spouse also means that one may hear criticisms that single people who not tend to realize that could apply to them.

We all are to build character (see Building Character: Going on to Perfection), and marriage is one way that can help.

What About Divorce and Remarriage?

Many have wondered about divorce. This was asked of Jesus and He discussed it:

3 The Pharisees also came to Him, testing Him, and saying to Him, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?"

4 And He answered and said to them, "Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning 'made them male and female,' 5 and said, 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'? 6 So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate."

7 They said to Him, "Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?"

8 He said to them, "Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. 9 And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery."

10 His disciples said to Him, "If such is the case of the man with his wife, it is better not to marry." (Matthew 19:3-10)

31 "Furthermore it has been said, 'Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.' 32 But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery. (Matthew 5:31-32)

Jesus was opposed to the casuality of divorce and remarriage in His time. The issue seemed to come up later and the Apostle Paul wrote the following:

12 But to the rest I, not the Lord, say: If any brother has a wife who does not believe, and she is willing to live with him, let him not divorce her. 13 And a woman who has a husband who does not believe, if he is willing to live with her, let her not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy. 15 But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases. But God has called us to peace. 16 For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife? (1 Corinthians 7:12-16)

Although none of the scriptures I quoted here specify remarriage, they seem to allow for it. In particular statements such as "not under bondage in such cases" and what Jesus said in Matthew 24:32 and 19:9. 

Now, I would add that if one spouse is physically harming the other, it is reasonable to conclude that the one doing the harming is not truly 'pleased to dwell' with the other, irrespective of what they might say.

As far as divorce and remarriage (D&R) goes, here is something from Herbert Armstrong:

First, just as we understood it in the Church before, Jesus gave fornication (prior to marriage) as the grounds for nullifying a marriage. This clearly was a form of fraud.

When discovered (in nearly all cases) immediately after marriage, it simply meant God, knowing of this fraud, had actually not bound the marriage and what followed therefore was actually an annulment, not a divorce...There could be other types of fraud — such as a marriage enforced at the point of a gun. ...

We had been very familiar with I Corinthians 7 before, but had not recognized this D&R teaching in it. Paul there speaks, verses 8-9, to the unmarried and widows. In verses 10-11 he speaks to the married. Beginning verse 12 he speaks to "the rest." If a converted man has a wife who is an unbeliever, causing trouble and disrupting the marriage because of the man's religion (NOTICE IT CAREFULLY), if she is pleased to live with him, he must not divorce her he has NO GROUNDS for divorce and remarriage.

Likewise the woman in God's Church, if she has an unbelieving husband, and he is willing to live with her despite her religion, she shall not leave him (verse 13). But if the unbelieving one leaves — cuts off the marriage because of the Church member's religion — let him or her depart. Now NOTICE THIS! The believing Church member is not given grounds for breaking off the marriage. It is only IF the unbelieving one leaves — severs the marriage relationship — then and only then is the believer (Church member) no longer bound and free to obtain a divorce (verse 15).

I conceive of this occurring in at least two ways. 1) The believing Church member has been newly converted, and the mate refuses to live with him or her because of the religion. 2) Both had been in the Church, but one falls away, turns bitter against the Church, refuses to live as husband or wife with the still loyal member. In this case the embittered one, leaving the Church, has become an unbeliever...

The matter of fornication or other fraud prior to marriage CANNOT BE USED AS GROUNDS FOR DIVORCE AND REMARRIAGE, after the couple have gone on living together. Unless such fraud is acted on at once — as soon as discovered, IT IS NO GROUNDS for divorce and remarriage! (Armstrong HW. SPELLING OUT THE OFFICIAL DOCTRINE ON DIVORCE AND REMARRIAGE. Good News, October-November 1979)

As far as myself goes, I have been married for over 33 years and my wife and I were never previously married and have never, of course, been divorced.

One way to make your marriage work is to realize that you need to. Throughout history, many have felt that their spouse was 'impossible' to live with for many reasons, yet God expects those who are married to try to work it out.

Many do not really take the following into heart, for if they did, nearly all marriages would last until death of one or more of the parties:

12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. 13 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. (1 Corinthians 10:12-13)

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
6 In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.

7 Do not be wise in your own eyes;
Fear the Lord and depart from evil.
8 It will be health to your flesh,
And strength to your bones. (Proverbs 3:5-8)

11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; 18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints — (Ephesians 6:11-18)

4 Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5 Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, "The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously"?

6 But He gives more grace. Therefore He says:

"God resists the proud,
But gives grace to the humble."

7 Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up. (James 4:4-10)

So, if you have marital problems, be care before you conclude that no one else has faced a similar situation and you should give up. Have faith and trust God.

The late John Ross Schroeder wrote:

Men and women saddled with bad marriages have one point in common. They have ignored some very good advice. That advice comes in just five little words. "Love your neighbor as yourself."

But who is my neighbor? Isn't he or she the person next door? Mates on the job? Church brethren? Club members? Yes, all of these people and, in a broader sense, all of humanity are our neighbors. But too often we forget the identity of our number one neighbor.

You've heard the old cliché, "Charity begins at home." Clichés are clichés simply because they're usually true. Our number one neighbor is our spouse — husband or wife.

The average Joe or Jane usually behaves in a courteous and civil manner towards friends and neighbors. If we are not awfully careful, our spouse can be the only exception to the accepted rules of behavior. ...

If you don't talk to your mate with interest and concern, your marriage is either in serious trouble or soon will be. Lack of loving, thoughtful communication is one of those telltale signs of a failing marriage. ...

Golden Rule in Marriage    

"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Surely no one in his right mind disagrees with the ancient sentiment. But who are the "others"? Probably your mate is the last person you think of in this connection.

Things go wrong at the office. You have cost the company a small sum by missing an obvious error in a major printing of company brochures. Your workmate who normally cross-checks your work was called out of town on an emergency. To say that your boss is unhappy is the proverbial understatement. How do you expect to be treated when you arrive home? With consideration, empathy, even sympathy? Of course! Maybe your wife won't mention that the lawn is long overdue for a mowing. That is the way men expect to be treated by their wives.

But is that the way they treat their wives when things go wrong at home? That day the bread didn't rise. The bathroom was flooded. She dropped a piece of the best china and the kids have been impossible. And your lovely wife coped with all these "minor" disasters without calling you once. When you arrive at the front door, she's at the end of her tether. How do you treat her in these circumstances?

Do you step in and get the children to bed yourself? Do you offer to dry the dishes that particular evening? Do you console your spouse? Do you treat her the way you expect to be treated? Do you love your neighbor — your wife — as yourself?

And do you women respect your husbands as much as you do your own selves?

Seventy Times Seven    

Peter asked Jesus Christ how many times he had to forgive his brother and then threw out the number seven. "Seventy times seven" came the unhesitating answer. In other words, unlimited forgiveness.

There's only one relationship where the 70 times seven is likely to occur, literally. A brother or neighbor or friend just won't sin against us all that many times. But a spouse is likely to. We spend a tremendous amount of time with our mates.

The average wife is likely to hear "I'm awfully sorry, dear" at least several times a week and vice versa. The question is: Do you mean it and does she mean it? If so, you should forgive your mate without a moment's hesitation. Unspoken grudges can ruin a marriage. Learn how to forgive your mate!

A marriage is likely to collect a lot of skeletons. Don't dig one out every time you have an argument with your spouse. That isn't real forgiveness. The Proverb {16:27} says: "An ungodly man [or woman] digs up evil." Let the matter rest! (Schroeder JS. When the kissing begins to stop. Plain Truth, September-October 1983)

Marriage truly does help teach love, including love when it does not seem to be convenient.

I would also add that reports I have looked at indicate that those who were virgins upon marriage are less likely to get divorced than those who were not, especially if neither were. This does not doom other marriages to failure, but if you are unmarried this is something that you should realize. Fornication has problems, including later in marriages.

The Apostle Paul wrote:

18 Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.

19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's. (1 Corinthians 6:18-20, KJV)

That is still true today--despite birth control, there are various physical diseases that fornication can contribute to, and mentally it is not good for anyone.

Five Ways to Rebuild Your Marriage

Decades ago, Gary Alexander wrote an article titled Five Ways to Save Your Marriage. Here is some of what he wrote:

Why unhappy marriages? Why divorce, desertion, marital unhappiness, after a young couple exchange vows of "to love until death do us part?" Here are five practical steps you can take to be one of a shrinking minority — the happily married couple.

DIVORCE lawyers, marriage counselors and sociologists usually list three to seven major problem areas in a marriage. Here is a discussion of the five most prominent ones.    

By reversing the major, underlying problem in each area, you will be attacking the root cause of most of your marriage problems.

I. Learn to COMMUNICATE!   

Marriage counselors list communication at the very top of needed marriage skills. One divorce lawyer went so far as to say: "It has been my experience that in at least 90 percent of all divorce cases, the reason for the termination of the marriage, if it had to be resolved in one phrase, would be 'lack of communication.' "

Hugo A. Bordeaux, executive director of the Marriage Counseling Service, Baltimore, Maryland, said: "All over America, husbands and wives cannot talk to each other. This, I am convinced, is our Number One marriage problem..." Dr. Charles E. Wahl, Chief of Psychosomatic Medicine at the UCLA School of Medicine, said: "Failure to communicate is by far the most frequent circumstance in a disturbed marriage."

But why this gulf between a husband and wife who talked before they were married and, chances are, for months after they married? Is there nothing left to talk about?

No, that isn't the problem.

The real difficulty is SELFISHNESS and neglect. The husband no longer seems interested in the wife and vice versa. The husband may be more engrossed in his favorite TV program, hobby or job. How can this be overcome? Only in one way. Both husband and wife must learn how to show true love and concern for each other.

How to Communicate   

Genuine love is outgoing concern. It is pointed away from self, a desire to help, to serve, to give to the one who is the object of that love. And no one ever "just happened" to want to give his life away, or share his time, labor, thoughts, cares, hopes, and dreams with another human being. It takes work. ...

Take her for a walk. Don't be afraid to pitch in with household chores when the need arises. Spend an evening reading together. Comment to each other on what you're learning. Say "I love you." Each one of these is unselfish communication at its best. In short, love one another.    

One form of communication which couples shouldn't indulge in is arguing. When you communicate properly, arguments will not build up. Argument is not necessary. Communication, frank and free, is!    

Many wives complain: "All he wants to talk about is business or sports." Husbands say: "All she wants to talk about is the house or local gossip." Each waits for the other to change, and is not willing to make the first step.

This lack of desire to be concerned with the needs of the other mate leads to the often erroneous idea that both husband and wife are incompatible.

II. BUILD Compatibility and Companionship   

"But we're not compatible," answer millions of unhappy couples. "We just don't have anything in common."

Chances are, before they were married, a couple thought they had everything amazingly in common. Never were two people so ideally matched, they thought. But why the idea now that they are incompatible?

"Incompatible" is probably the most frequently mentioned but least understood of all terms regarding marriage problems. Of course, no two persons are perfectly compatible, or wholly incompatible. Only by living with a person do you learn his or her habits and peculiarities. Compatibility is not a birthright, but an adjustment. The greatest adjustment is to expand your empirical self to include another's way of life. Too many men and women want the other party to do all the adjusting.

Compatibility is a process that grows. The degree to which a couple increase their compatibility is the degree to which their marriage will become rewarding.
If you really feel you have nothing in common, make a list of all enjoyable things that you have done or haven't done but you wish you could. List between 10 and 25 items. Ask your spouse to do the same thing, separately. When you have both completed this, compare lists. In most cases there will be at least one common point of interest between you — probably several. Use that activity as a building block for doing things together.

The more a couple think, act and do together, the more compatible they become. Struggling together against misfortune or to reach common goals is basic to marriage solidarity.

A survey of 250 happily married wives disclosed that the overwhelming reply to the question, "What do you like most about your husband?" was "companionability."

Yet, so often couples lack this solid feeling that they are companions together throughout life.

Men have a tendency, more so than women, to seek recreation with a group of their own kind — men — rather than with their wives. This should not be so. Husbands, your wife should be your best friend, and favorite companion. Spend more time with her than with any group of men. ...

There are two more kinds of incompatibility most often mentioned in the divorce courts: sexual incompatibility and financial incompatibility.

III. Sexual Compatibility ...

Couples go into marriage believing sex is the elixir of life, balm for all ills, fountain of youth, the be-all and end-all of marriage. But it often doesn't work out as the manuals say it should.    

What is wrong? It usually involves the missing ingredient in sex — an outgoing concern for your mate. Sex is merely the height of physical communication and companionship — the first two laws of a loving marriage — shared in the supreme expression of that love.

Marital sex matures as the couple increase in true love for each other. In fact, a fulfilling sexual relationship is impossible apart from an outgoing, physical expression of love — not a selfish expression of lust.

IV. UNDERSTANDING YOUR ROLE   

Men and women are different in literally every cell of their bodies (due to male and female chromosomes), different in height, weight, figure, skeletal structure, metabolism, strength, some internal organs, ability to bear children — and temperament! It is not a matter of superiority or inferiority in any of those fields, but a matter of difference. The wise married couple learns how to appreciate and enjoy these differences.

Just what are the roles of husband and wife in marriage? There is no mystery here. What sensible woman would marry a man who refused to provide for, honor and cherish his wife?

A man's role is breadwinner, leader, example, and loving head of his family. If husbands would fulfill these roles, there would be little room for family arguments, competition, marital frustration, working wives, or women's "liberation." Most women would love and honor a husband of that stature. The problem begins when men do not fulfill this responsibility.

But what then is the all-important role of the wife?

The Wife's Responsibility   

A survey of 622 urban housewives in 1965 revealed that they considered their roles to be mother, homemaker, and wife — in that order. In fact, a third of the women never even mentioned their roles as wives to their husbands, the only role of the three to which they vowed "I do" years earlier. ...

Experienced marriage counselors have come to see that even if only one partner makes a concentrated effort to save the marriage — that is, to give in on arguments, to surrender selfish "rights," to smile, love, respect, and serve his or her partner — then the other mate usually catches the spirit and also changes! But this must be a sustained effort over many months in many cases or even years.   

Even if a wife finds it difficult to respect her husband it is not her role to bitterly indict him. This will insure the eventual dissolution of the marriage.

The subject of the roles of husband and wife goes much deeper when you consider the little-understood mental and psychological differences of the male and female. One husband-wife team of lawyer and counselor wrote: "Deep at the root of every marital problem is the simple fact that women rarely understand men, and no man has really ever understood a woman. If this can ever be changed, married life would be smoother" (Kenneth and Irene Donelson, Married Today, Single Tomorrow, p. 27).

Of course men can understand women — and women can understand men. But it isn't automatic. It involves concern for the other and a proper understanding of each one's role in the marriage state.

V. FINANCIAL COMPATIBILITY

Financial problems in marriage are really only an effect of husbands and wives not communicating (Point One) or not knowing their roles (Point Four). Finances are cited as a major cause of divorce, but they are only an effect of the other problems listed above. Many people live happily within a small salary when they communicate and make a cooperative effort. Financial arguments are usually based on home government — "How much credit?" and "Who controls the money?" Often both partners want control — or perhaps neither does. ...

Lewis M. Terman, in his voluminous research of marital conditions, listed "money matters" in the top position of husband-wife complaints. Dr. Popenoe, Director of the American Institute for Family Relations for over 40 years, clarified this point in a PLAIN TRUTH interview: "Most of the so-called causes of divorce are actually symptoms rather than causes. Financial difficulties are very common, but people don't break up from these difficulties if they're happily married. Few people are really happily married if they quarrel over finances rather than simply working the problem out together."    

Practical points in handling finances include first of all communication of needs, accompanied by a willingness to share. Once again this means having outgoing concern for the other mate.

One primary consideration involves the setting up of a family budget. This encourages communication, consideration of both partners' needs, and agreement on priorities.

Important Financial Considerations   

The main principles of budgeting include paying necessities first, avoiding credit purchases, and — an important factor for marital happiness — allowing each partner pocket money for which he or she is not accountable to the other. Many women complain they can never buy the least item for themselves or their children without an accounting to their husbands. Meanwhile, hubby stops to buy snacks, drinks or trinkets whenever he likes. Of course, there are also wives who want to spend freely and at the same time expect their husbands to account for every penny.

Who should manage the finances? This is the crux of most financial arguments. The husband should take the lead in setting up the budget. Depending on the circumstances, a wife might keep the records and pay the bills. Organization and individual duties will vary with each family. There is no set pattern. But, whatever is done, it should be done together. Sharing financial duties promotes family harmony. It builds stronger family ties in every way.

It doesn't matter which person stubs the checks or pays the clerk if they both communicate and cooperate.

Have Financial Harmony   

Some men dress in the latest styles, while their wives are kept in shabby housedresses. This is not financial responsibility or compatibility. If the wife has expensive tastes for furnishings, home, clothing, and transportation, and the husband makes only half as much money as she wants, this is not financial compatibility. Both need to give in — the wife should learn to do without until the husband has worked hard enough and long enough to earn them. And the husband should study and work hard in his occupation so he can advance financially.

Your Marriage CAN Be Happy   

A strong family unit truly is the building block of a great nation. "A strong monogamous family and the highest culture" have historically always gone together, according to Dr. Popenoe. "... if one deteriorated, so did the other!"

If every couple practiced these five points, the ascending divorce rate would immediately begin to decline, and then vanish.

It is gratifying to know that thousands of formerly unhappy marriages have been revived and enriched when the points discussed in this article have been faithfully and thoroughly applied. (Alexander G. Five Ways to Save Your Marriage. , 1971)

There are steps that one can take to save one's marriage. Dedicated Christians will take whatever steps are appropriate.

One problem in many marriages is that one or both (and it is not only usually one) is that they do not really believe the following:

35 I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.' (Acts 20:35)

Sometimes wives are weak, sometimes husbands are weak. But Christians MUST support the weak.

Marriage CANNOT BE JUST a 50-50 arrangement.

While each party in a marriage may believe that they give at least or more than 50%, most often so does the other party. While it is probably not humanly possible to truly give 100%, spouses need to realize that marriage is intended as primarily a giving and loving relationship. Once they do, then they will tend to better believe Jesus' words about giving.

Who Can You Marry?

Marriage is for adults. Different cultures have different ages for adulthood, but the minimum age probably should be in the upper teens, though the Bible does not specify a particular age.

There are three Old Testament sections that I would like to quote here:

6 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 7 "The daughters of Zelophehad speak what is right; you shall surely give them a possession of inheritance among their father's brothers, and cause the inheritance of their father to pass to them. 8 And you shall speak to the children of Israel, saying: 'If a man dies and has no son, then you shall cause his inheritance to pass to his daughter. (Numbers 27:6-8)

6 This is what the Lord commands concerning the daughters of Zelophehad, saying, 'Let them marry whom they think best, but they may marry only within the family of their father's tribe.' 7 So the inheritance of the children of Israel shall not change hands from tribe to tribe, for every one of the children of Israel shall keep the inheritance of the tribe of his fathers. (Numbers 36:6-7)

5 "When a man has taken a new wife, he shall not go out to war or be charged with any business; he shall be free at home one year, and bring happiness to his wife whom he has taken. (Deuteronomy 24:5)

Also, notice something from the New Testament:

39 A wife is bound by law as long as her husband lives; but if her husband dies, she is at liberty to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord. (1 Corinthians 7:39)

So, women do have the right to decide who (male of course) to marry, they have certain property rights, and when they are married their husbands have the obligation to try to bring them happiness (at least for the first year--there is no limitation on that in the Bible).

The Bible indicates that fathers can prevent their daughters from marrying in certain circumstances (cf. Exodus 22:17) and likely also, should the father choose, if they have not reached age 20. The Bible indicates that twenty is the age for a certain level of adulthood (Exodus 30:14), and adult women can then decide which male, if any, to marry. Adult men can choose to marry which female they want, presuming she will marry him.

So, does that mean can you marry just anybody you might take a fancy to?

If you are a Christian, the answer is no.

14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? 15 And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? 16 And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. (2 Corinthians 6:14-16)

As a Christian, you are not to marry someone who is NOT a Christian.

Marriage is a serious, lifelong, decision that should not be entered into lightly. The Bible shows that God had peoples and races separated after the flood. Yet, various peoples mixed (like the Polynesians and Mexicans for two examples) and various ones made individual decisions about this that crossed ethnic (like Joseph) and racial (like Moses) lines in their marriages. The Bible has no specific injunctions against Christians marrying across ethnic/racial lines. However, because of problems with the world as well as difficulties in marriage, we recommend that people try to marry someone that they are most compatible with, while also considering how their future children might realistically be affected. While we in the Continuing Church of God do not encourage miscegenation (marrying across racial lines), we do not see that we have the biblical authority to prohibit it, therefore do not prohibit it.

Christians are to love their neighbors as theirselves and should give serious consideration to how any one they marry will affect their children physically, spiritually, and emotionally. Because of being unequally-yoked, Continuing Church of God ministers are prohibited from marrying a Christian member to a someone who is not a REAL Christian.

11 Keys to Happier Marriages

The late Dean Blackwell was married for decades, here are 11 keys to a happier marriage he put together:

Keys to happier marriages 

I have a list I carry to remind me what I am supposed to be as a husband. Maybe you can apply these points, too.

1. Husbands, love your wives (Eph. 5:25). God commands you to be expressive. Let your wife know you love her. It's a good idea to commit yourself to telling your wife every day that you love her and consider her half of your success. On the other hand, the two top jobs of a wife are to encourage and inspire her husband.
2. Dwell with your wife according to knowledge (I Pet. 3:7). "Husbands, love, your wives, and be not bitter against them" (Col. 3:19). God commands you husbands to rule your natures and emotions and to control your tongues. Don't be at odds with your wife.
3. Accept your wife's natural difference from you. God made men and women differently and saw that everything was very good (Gen. 1:31). Neither sex is greater than the other. They mutually excel each other — they blend together into perfection. Vive la difference!
4. Husbands, be the head of your wives. Lead be an example. Be in authority and dominate, but don't domineer. Appreciate your wife and listen to her wisdom.
5. Remember to be a peacemaker. Develop self-control and compassion. Remind yourself of this duty daily.
6. See to your wife's health. The husband is to a large degree responsible for the wife's physical well-being, just as the wife is to a large degree responsible for the husband's physical well-being. Make sure you both get the proper diet and sufficient exercise.
7. Study the Bible and pray together. How long has it been since you've applied this suggestion? The husband should lead his family spiritually as well as physically.
8. Schedule a big date alone at least once a month! Mark it on a family calendar — make time for it among all your other family activities.
9. Set aside time to talk. Communication problems are a main cause of marriage failures. Schedule a time when you're not in a hurry so you can discuss the home, family problems and how you can help each other grow.
10. Value your wife's input. Notice a quality of the virtuous woman, "She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness" (Prov. 31:26). Your wife should be your helpmeet in every way. If I were a girl and I didn't know a man appreciated my character and thought highly of my wisdom — if he just thought of me physically — I would be highly offended. Don't be too high and mighty to accept good judgment from your wife.
11. Don't let the sun set on your wrath. Don't let problems magnify and roots of bitterness grow. God's way is to get things settled day by day: "Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof" (Matt, 6:34). (Blackwell D. The Care and Feeding of a Happy Marriage. Good News, March 1980)

I would mention that spending time together, respecting each other's opinions, being consistent with matters of finances, trying to resolve conflicts, and definitely discussing major matters together (moving to another location, quitting or starting a new job or career, etc.) need to be done. And while God holds the husband ultimately responsible for many things, he should get his wive's input, even if he comes to a different conclusion than her.

Making Your Marriage Work

How do you make your marriage work?

You make your marriage work by submitting to God and His word.

You make your marriage work by valuing it.

You make your marriage work by submitting to each other.

You make your marriage work by your commitment to it.

You make your marriage work by building character and expressing love.

You can make YOUR MARRIAGE WORK.

Believe the Bible. Believe Jesus. It is more blessed to give than receive (Acts 20:35). Be a giver in your marriage and be blessed.

Thiel B. Making Your Marriage Work. http://www.cogwriter.com/marriage.htm COGwriter (C) 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 0121

Here is a link to the video sermon: You Can Make YOUR Marriage Work.

Some items of possibly related interest may include:

Love, Marriage, and Sex It is important to get them in the right order.
Husbands Love Your Wives An article written by the late Selmer Hegvold.
Here's the Plain Truth About OLD TESTAMENT POLYGAMY by Herbert Armstrong. Here is a related article in the Spanish language: ¿Es la poligamia una senda de Dios?

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