In our society, the belief that every marriage has problems has become an accepted mindset.
Should people entering into marriage expect domestic troubles such as constant arguments, spousal fights, abuse, sleeping in separate bedrooms, slamming doors, lingering disagreements, domestic violence and then eventual divorce?
Does every marriage have problems?
Who Says Every Marriage Has Problems?
I never met him personally but Bill Koch, the energy magnate, owner of Oxbow Corporation, was going through a tense high profile divorce. His now ex-wife had filed assault charges against him, but later recanted. At some point, Mr. Koch, through his spokesman, said: ‘‘every marriage has its problems, and my marriage to Angela is no exception.” That opinion is held by most newlyweds, people married for years, singles and those diligently seeking to be married. It is also held by those who are born-again and those who haven’t accepted Christ.
How did so many people come to believe that all marriages are problem prone? Primarily, instead of preaching and teaching God’s standard for marriage, most ministers have adopted the, ‘‘every marriage has problems,” as their theology. Next, it is ingrained into the mind of almost every marriage counselor and therapist. They are trained to believe that, ‘‘every marriage has its problems.” Finally, the church and our society have heard, “every marriage has problems,” for s-o-o-o long and it has been repeated by s-o-o-o many people, that problem prone matrimony has been widely accepted as the standard and rule of thumb for every marriage.
What does the Written Word of God say about this issue? Has the church and the masses missed it when it comes to marriage? Are all marriages bound to be problem prone? To answer those questions we need to first define problem.
A problem is: 1). A person, matter, or situation that presents perplexity or difficulty. 2). To be difficult to deal with, hard to handle, or unable to control. 3). to be troubled or confused. When it comes to marriage there are two types of problems, internal and external.
External Marital problems
External marital problems are those difficult situations, matters and issues of which we have absolutely no control. Examples include being laid off, the cost of gasoline, beef or lettuce, the stock market fluctuations, a company going out of business or the rising cost of health insurance. I could submit a long list of circumstances and situations that happen in life, which everyone must know how to handle. Once a person marries, they must know how to deal with these circumstances and situations as One Flesh. If not, their lack of knowledge can be one of the factors that ignites internal marital problems.
Internal Marital problems
Internal marital problems are issues that sprout up from within the marriage over which both spouses have control. Some examples are quarreling, fighting, abuse, domestic violence, overspending, infidelity, lack of communication, being insensitive to one another, agreeing on child rearing and dealing with in-laws. Based on what everyone is saying, it is natural for every marriage to have internal problems.
Is that the true picture of marriage? I have friends who are police officers in various states and they all tell me the same thing: “domestic hostilities make up the majority of their 911 calls.” On average, police officers spend one third of their time dealing with spouses, live-in lovers, and other tense family related issues. In most cases, the spouses are either mutual combatants or one of them is a victim of abuse or domestic violence. When the officer pulls them apart to find out what precipitated the incident, inevitably, one or both of them will say, 'Officer, every marriage has problems and our marriage is no different!” Why do couples have internal marital problems? There are three reasons.
(1) They chose the wrong mate,
(2) One or Both Spouses Do Not Follow The Book on Marriage, or
(3) Not Following or Ignoring God’s Pre-Marital Guidelines
Choosing The Wrong Mate
A man once came to me desperately seeking prayer for his marriage. He and his wife were going through an ugly divorce and an extremely bitter child custody battle. After talking with him, it was clear that he believed what they were going through was normal for every married couple. He had the ‘‘every marriage has its problems,” syndrome. Their divorce included numerous heated accusations, and visits from (DCFS) Department of Children and Family Services to investigate child neglect and abuse by the wife against their child. The husband wanted things to work out between them. He didn’t want a divorce so he asked me what I believed he needed to do to save his marriage.
I need to explain what he was asking me. He had told his wife he was a man of God but, he had met her at a strip club where he spent a couple of days a week staring at nude dancers while sucking down brewskies, (that’s slang for beer). She did some table dances for him, he asked her out, they engaged in sex, and four to five months later, they were married. He found out after their wedding ceremony that his wife was addicted to an assortment of drugs. He committed to helping his new bride overcome her addictions, but before they could properly deal with that issue, she became pregnant. They laid aside her drug issues and focused all of their attention on their soon coming child. This all happened within a year. Two years after giving birth his wife seemed like the picture of contentment.
That was until she got an itch to get back into the fast lane. She missed the excitement of having men drooling all over her, wining and dining her, giving her free drugs and booze, and treating her as if she was an immortal prima donna goddess. Unable to resist the temptation, she strolled into a strip club, performed an audition and within a few minutes she was back to nude dancing. While her husband was at work, she would leave their 2-year-old child with other female strippers. On one occasion, the neighbor called the police because his wife left their child crawling around in the front yard for three to four hours while she was somewhere getting tanked up on cocaine.
He begged his wife to attend drug, marital, and pastoral counseling, but she refused. In the end, she dragged him through the divorce court and took everything he owned. She got the house, most of the assets, alimony, full custody of their child, and he had to pay her child support every month. All of that, even though she was cited by (DCFS) on three occasions for child neglect and openly admitted in family court that she was a nude dancer with a major drug addiction. What did she do with the money? She smoked and snorted it away! It shouldn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why they were having internal marital problems?
(1) He was living a lie. True men of God don’t hang out at strip clubs gawking at nude dancers and sucking down brewskies. I don’t know what he thought he was going to gain by telling her he was a follower of Christ. His wife called him exactly what he was, a true hypocrite! She mocked his confessions of Christianity and rightfully so! The truth is, he saw this woman showing her nakedness, he lusted after her body, and he got his heart’s desire. He just didn’t get what he expected.
(2) His wife was neither marriage minded nor marriage material. She had brazenly rejected Christ. At that point in her life, her gods were booze, sex, drugs, and cash. God calls such females, strange women, (See Proverbs 7:5-23). This man had a Fantasy Island fueled ideology that he could marry this strange woman and somehow convert her into a portrait of virtue.
I watch individuals choose defective mates and enter into marriages like that all the time. When internal martial problems surface, they turn around and say, “every marriage has problems and our marriage is no different!” Wrong answer! Every marriage does not have internal problems! Some Christians, bless their hearts, want to get super duper spiritual and say, “let’s pray and believe God for a miraculous restoration!” What is God going to do? Force his wife to stop dancing at the strip club? Make her stop snorting cocaine? Make her take proper care of her child?
Don’t misunderstand me, I believe in God touching people’s hearts and turning their lives around. He touched my heart and turned my life around, but prior to that point, I would have made a terrible husband. Amongst other things, I didn’t know my God-given purpose and I knew nothing about manhood, being a husband or fatherhood. Men like that do not make good marital partners; they become internal marital problems. If you choose the wrong mate, someone who is difficult, hard to handle, troubled or confused, and expect God to convert your problematic marital partner into a living epistle, you need to know this - you are living in a fool’s paradise!
The majority of men and women who closed their eyes and tried to pull off that marital stunt, opened their eyes and found themselves being dragged through the nightmarish blood sucking divorce court mill. If not the divorce court mill, through the brutal family court. If not the family court, they found themselves enmeshed in abuse or domestic violence. Their lists of problems are never ending. Get this point engraved in your mind… choosing the wrong mate is one of the primary reasons people end up in marriages besieged with internal marital problems. It is not because every marriage is destined to have problems. For instance, men are commanded to completely avoid dating or marrying these types of females:
1. A contentious woman: one who likes to quarrel with words, provoke disputes, argue and fight, (See Proverbs 21:19).
2. A nagging woman: one who constantly complains, finds faults or scolds a man with her tongue, (See Proverbs 13:19).
3. A strange woman: one who profanes God by either her words or deeds, (See Proverbs 22:14).
4. An adulterous woman: one who will without shame destroy her marriage or someone else’s marriage, (See Proverbs 30:20).
Women are also commanded to avoid getting entering into a relationship or marriage with these types of men:
1. A lazy slothful man: he won’t take care of his responsibilities. These men will leave you hanging, (See Proverbs 6:9-11).
2. A man given to wine and strong drink: these men are on a path of self-destruction and they have no qualms about taking you along for the bumpy rough ride, (See Proverbs 23:29-35).
3. A hot-tempered man: whether it is domestic violence or other criminal activities, these men will find ways to get into trouble, (See Proverbs 19:19).
4. An adulterous man: without shame, these men will destroy their marriage or ruin someone else’s marriage, (See Proverbs 6:29).
Keep in mind, I’ve only described a few of the individuals to avoid. These men and women are not submitted to God. If you marry one of them after God has warned and commanded you to avoid them, you will eventually regret your decision.
One or Both Spouses Do Not Follow The Book on Marriage
Here is the second reason spouses have internal marital problems. The Book on Marriage is the Bible. The Written Word of God reveals how to prepare for marriage, how to choose a mate, and certain type of people to avoid at all costs. Additionally, The Word of God instructs us how to conduct ourselves in marriage. When you follow those instructions, you won’t end up in a marriage with internal problems. Here are some of those instructions:
1. The husband is commanded to love his wife as Christ loved the church, (See Ephesians 5:25
2. The wife is commanded to reverence her husband, (See Ephesians 5:33)
The husband and wife are commanded to submit to one another, (See Ephesians 5:21)
3. Husbands and wives are commanded to pray together, (See I Peter 3:7)
4. Husbands and wives are commanded not to deprive or defraud one another of sexual intimacy, (See I Corinthians 7:2-5)
5. Spouses are commanded not to let the sun go down on their wrath. In other words, do not go to bed angry with another, (See Ephesians 4:26).
God’s Divine Standard For Marriage
God’s design for marriage does not include all of the trauma, drama and tension most marriages and households are engulfed in. What becomes a slap in God’s face and a shame to the Body of Christ, is the mass number of Christian couples who must call the police and invoke the judicial system to settle their marital issues. I’ve been in courtrooms and personally watched these couples, who say they love God, go to combat against one another. I’ve watched them make false accusations, death threats, and pronounce curses on their soon to be ex-spouses. After the dust has settled and their marriages are ripped apart, many of them respond by saying, “every marriage has problems and our marriage was no different!” Once again, wrong answer! Read God’s divine standard for every marriage.
And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places.
God’s divine standard for a husband and wife is dwelling together in a peaceable habitation. Did you get that? That word peaceable means a friendly, safe, happy and prosperous household. The Word of God goes on to say…
1 Blessed is every one that feareth the Lord; that walketh in his ways.
2 For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands: happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee.
3 Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house: thy children like olive plants round about thy table.
When it comes to marriage there are two standards. Man’s standard, which says, “every marriage has its problems,” and God’s standard, which you just read. God’s standard for marriage does not include arguing, fighting, slamming doors, sleeping in separate bedrooms, divorce court, or frantic 911 calls. I don’t go through long drawn-out counseling sessions with couples having internal marital problems. It is usually not needed. I just determine which of the instructions God gave to husbands and wives that they are not following. If both the husband and wife say they are born again and they are having internal marital problems, either one or both is lying… they are not saved. Or, one or both of them is rebelling against the Written Word of God. Or, one or both of them does not know God’s instructions for spousal conduct.
What I want to know during counseling, is, “Who is it? The husband or the wife, or is it the both of them?” As the husband, is he loving his wife as Christ loved the church? Does he even know how Christ loved the church? As a husband, if he doesn’t know how Christ loved the Church, it is not possible for him to properly love his wife. Is he dwelling with his wife according to knowledge? As a wife, is she constantly complaining and nagging her husband? Does she try and provoke quarrels and arguments? Is she a contentious wife? One with a poisonous tongue? Is she like the woman in Proverbs 14:1, prone to tear her marriage and household down?
During counseling, I have had spouses try to persuade me to agree with them as they attempted to justify why they went off on, cursed out, or struck their spouse. Listen to me carefully, you are not responsible for your spouse’s actions, you are responsible for your actions. And you are obligated to obey the Written Word of God no matter what anyone is doing, whether it’s your husband, wife, children, pastor, employer, or President. You cannot use your husband’s or your wife’s actions or lack of actions as justification to commit sin. And make no mistake about it, if you and your wife are arguing, yelling, screaming, name calling, cursing, shouting at each other, or fighting, you have sin in heart! You do not need counseling, the both of you need to follow the instructions in Matthew 5:22-24.
In that passage of Scripture, God commands us to settle disagreements immediately and be reconciled to one another. This will only work if two people are born-again and submitted to obeying the Word of God. If one spouse refuses to obey the Scriptures, you will have major internal marital problems. Especially if you married someone God warned or commanded you not to marry. You can pray for them and intercede for them, but you have no guarantee they will obey the voice of the Holy Spirit. I am not trying to discourage anyone, I am sharing with you the undeniable consequences of sidestepping the Word of God.
I know Christians who ignored II Corinthians 6:14 and married an unbeliever and their marriage is rift with strife. Their unsaved spouses resent them when they attempt to tithe or give offerings. Their unsaved spouses don’t go to church and do not want them spending that much time in the sanctuary of God. Their unsaved spouses don’t pray or read the Bible and discourage them from praying or reading the Bible. Their unsaved spouses patronize strip clubs and nightclubs and freely indulge in destructive vices such as adultery, pornography, drugs, and alcohol. If you are a Believer and you marry someone who is not committed to obeying God’s Word concerning marriage, internal problems will usually become the cornerstone of your marriage. Let’s examine the final reason spouses have internal marital problems.
Not Following or Ignoring God’s Pre-Marital Guidelines
God gives us premarital guidelines to follow, things to do and not to do prior to getting married. He gives us these guidelines to protect us from the dangers, pitfalls and heartaches involved with love, sex, relationships, and marriage. For instance, He commands women not open up to a man emotionally or stir up love in her heart until it is God’s timing, (See Song of Solomon 2:7, 3:4 and 8:4). Unrighteous men easily exploit the women who reject that command. The results… these women end up with their emotions thoroughly ravaged.
They have been cheated on, lied to, tricked, and toyed with. They have had numerous sex partners, live-in lovers, failed relationships, and marriages. They have contracted sexually transmitted diseases and had abortions. They have been date raped, dumped, dismissed and left pregnant and alone. They have personally experienced abuse, domestic violence and have otherwise been misused. Because of the ill treatment they have received at the hands of males who were meandering manhood, many of these women take on the false belief that all men are dogs. They unconsciously see males as the enemy… one they cannot do without. By the time these females do get married, they bring into their marriages, harmful emotional baggage which very few men are prepared to handle, or are willing to deal with.
The men who do not follow God’s pre-marital guidelines learn very early in life to devalue the female gender. They treat sex as a sport. In their minds, words and phrases such as: respect, honor, rites of passage, fidelity, integrity, truthfulness, manhood, and fatherhood are just useless entries in a dictionary. By the time these males get married, they have been fully indoctrinated in how to exploit and abuse women. Their wedding rings and wedding vows do not change their modus operandi. Their wives become another notch on their list of female victims.1). Avoid choosing the wrong mate
I have tracked thousands of couples who decided to forgo God’s pre-marital guidelines. Unfortunately, the majority of their marriages ended up in the garbage dumpster along with the other marriages that could not stand the test of time. If you want to avoid a marriage rift with internal marital problems, you must:
2). Commit to follow the Book on Marriage and only choose a mate who has also made that same commitment, and
3). Learn and follow all of God’s premarital guidelines.
If you cover those three areas, you will have a love story worth writing about!