By Oladipo Kalejaiye Ph.D
A man was crying over a gravestone saying “why did you die? why did you die?” Another man questioned him. “Did your mother die?” “No”. “Your father?” “No”. But the man continued to weep profusely “why did you die?” “Well, who died?” He answered: “This was my wife’s first husband.”
For many couples, it has come to that. They daily regret and lament their decision to marry their mate. The marriage is a horror movie playing out in real time! A deceased Christian had the following written on his gravestone: “Beneath these stones do lie. Back to back, my wife and I. When the last trumpet the air shall fill, if she gets up, I’ll just lie still.” Wow! This Christian was willing to forfeit the resurrection in order to avoid any further co-habitation or interaction with his earthly spouse! Spouses who are still alive and can’t bear the nightmare of what they call marriage bail out through divorce.
Someone said “Love the quest, marriage the conquest, divorce the inquest.” Today, love quests that matured into marriage conquests are ending in bitter and sordid divorce “inquests”. If this article succeeds in helping your marriage to avoid becoming part of the “inquest” statistics, it has accomplished one of its primary objectives. I hope it does! Do you know that among Americans who have said their wedding vows, one out of three have been divorced at least once? George Barna, who directed a study on this, noted that Americans have grown comfortable with divorce as a natural part of life: “There no longer seems to be much of a stigma attached to divorce; it is now seen as an unavoidable rite of passage.
Interviews with young adults suggest that they want their initial marriage to last, but are not particularly optimistic about that possibility. There is also evidence that many young people are moving toward embracing the idea of serial marriage, in which a person gets married two or three times, seeking a different partner for each phase of their adult life.” You will agree with me that this prognosis is grim and scary.
However, your marriage does not have to help fulfill it. You can literally inoculate yours against the enemies of marriage. Sun Tzu, the ancient Chinese warrior, wrote in his classic The Art of War, “if you know your enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat.” Of course, it is obvious that if you know neither yourself nor the enemy, you have lost the battle even before it starts! I have identified below some of the enemies of marriage and what you should know about yourself so that you may make changes that’ll help fortify yours against these enemies.
Enemy Number One: Lack of unshakable foundation.
Many Hollywood marriages are built on the foundation of beauty, money, success and fame. These are defective foundations. They are shifting and sinking sand. Therefore the marriages collapse fast. Have you asked yourself: What is the foundation of my marriage? If it is built on “sand”, then when the wind of life begins to blow and the rains of life begin to fall and the flood of life begins to beat against it, it will crumble, but, if it is built on the “rock”, it will stand. There was a shipwreck and a young boy was the only survivor. He had struggled against the waves to swim to a rock he saw not too far away from him. He held onto the rock for three days until he was rescued. When asked whether he was not afraid being alone he replied, “I never stopped shaking since I bear-hugged the rock, but the rock itself did not shake.” There is another rock the bible talks about. He is called the Rock of Ages.
Enemy Number Two: Lack of allowances for daily irritations.
A couple had been married for fifteen years and is now having more than the usual disagreements. The wife came up with the idea of creating a Fault Box in which both will drop daily notes of irritable habits of the other spouse. At the end of the month, they’ll examine the notes, apologize to each other and cease their irritable habits. So, she diligently dropped off into the box notes of daily irritations: leaving the jelly top off the jar, wet towels on the shower floor, dirty socks not in the hamper and on and on. At the end of the month, after dinner, they opened the Fault Box and the wife began to read out her notes of what irritated her daily during the month. The husband apologized and promised to make amends. Now it was her turn. She noticed a lot of notes were also there but all of them have the same message, “I love you”! The instruction from the Rock in Colossians 3:13 says you must make allowances for each other’s faults… He also says you should always cut your spouse some slack and accept them the way He The Rock has accepted you: John 6:37: “The Father gives me my people. Every one of them will come to me, and I will always accept them”. God says “I just love you, period! Not because of what you do! ” Jesus treated us much better than we deserve. He made us acceptable. Not that we changed. He simply says “because of me, you are acceptable to God”. Accept your spouse as God has accepted you- unconditionally. Until they overcome their irritable habits, accept them. It does not mean you approve of these irritations. It simply means you are obeying the marching orders of the Rock and by so doing you are fortifying your marriage against this enemy number two. Lack of making allowances for your spouse’s daily irritations is an enemy of marriage. Is yours fortified against it?
Enemy Number Three: Lack of loving acts.
Love is not an emotion because emotions cannot be commanded at will. For example you cannot command someone to cry or to be happy or be sorrowful. These are emotions and often uncontrollable. Commanding someone “don’t worry, be happy”, won’t cut it for a grieving spouse. It is a myth that you can “fall in love” the way you uncontrollably, accidentally fall into a ditch! Love can cause strong emotions but is itself not an emotion. Love is more than sentimentality. More than arousal. More than attraction. Love is a behavior. Love is action. Love is a commitment you make to do something. You make a decision to love or not to love. That is why God commands us to love our neighbors as ourselves and the husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the church and gave Himself for her. 1 John 3:18 says “Let us love not with words but with action and in truth”. …
…Continue reading in the Life and Times 2013 Spring Edition