A good marriage seems rather elusive today. How did we start out loving each other so much and now it seems like we hate each other? Fights seem to erupt over the most trivial things, and once the fight stops neither of us can remember why the fight began in the first place. In the early years the fights often ended up with some pretty exciting times of “making up” . . . (you can fill in the blanks) but now making up usually means the referee sends us each to a neutral corner and we try to patch up the wounds. What's happened to our marriage, and why does it seem we end up hating each other at times?
For those who are serious about turning their marriage around, we encourage you to have an open mind and read on:
As a practical matter, there are times when it would seem better if men had their own version of the New Testament, and women had their own version of it. Here’s what we mean:
A man’s responsibility should be to learn how to be the best man, the best husband he could possibly be – nothing more, nothing less. It would have been better for men to have never read the scriptures about the wife’s duty to “honor” and to “submit,” and the only scriptures he reads on the subject shows that it was his his duty to “love his wife as Christ loved the church and gave himself for it” (Ephesians 5:25).
The husband was never intended to be "the enforcer,” but his role should be to “lead with love, protect and provide.” A husband should never tell his wife, “The Bible says you’re to obey me, so obey me!!” On the contrary, God’s divine order in the family was that man should be the spiritual head of the household, teaching, loving, protecting, and providing. Let the Holy Spirit work on his wife. Get out of the way and He will do it for you. For a man to take on the role as an enforcer means he is trying to usurp the role of the Holy Spirit. The husband needs to focus on his role, and not his wife’s role. The wife’s responsibility to love, honor, and submit – is none of his business!
And, at times it would also seem better if women had their own private versions of the New Testament.
Her responsibility should be to learn how to be the best woman, the best wife, she could possibly be – nothing more, nothing less. It should not be her role to see to it that the man “loves his wife as Christ loved the church and gave himself for it.” If she sees her husband in this light he is bound to fail!
“You’re not loving me as Christ loved the church, so I’m not going to submit to you.” No, the wife’s responsibility is to love, honor, and submit to the husband as the spiritual head of the family. She would be better served to have never read her husband’s responsibilities, but to have learned her own responsibilities fulfilling her Biblical role as a wife. The husband's role to "love her as Christ loved the church," -- is none of her business!
Now let's try to put this in some practical perspective.
Let's say that Stephanie is a believer and Ralph is not. Before long Ralph's unsavory ways are beginning to rub Stephanie the wrong way and she has finally had it. She blurts out with,
"I've had it with you, Ralph. I've had it with your empty beer cans and cigarette butts. And I've had it with your looking at pictures of naked women. From now on you can cook your own dinner and wash your own clothes. And you never go to church with me. I'm going to church and we're going to pray that God will straighten you out. If you don't -- then I want you to pack up and get out!"
Wow, that’s sure to win Ralph over won't it. He's going to fall on his knees, repent, and then rush to church with Stephanie -- right? Her approach really won him over (not). In effect, she said,
"I've got this God. Just let me deal with Ralph and his stinky ways, and when I'm through you can have a whack at him."
Now let's give Stephanie a few healthy suggestions. She's a believer, and Ralph is an unrepentant sinner and a slob. But Stephanie begins to ask God what she can do to win her husband over and be the kind of wife the Lord wants her to be. She's read in the Bible that she's to honor, respect, and submit to her husband. She decides that from now on,
"Ralph, as you know I'm a Christian and Jesus is giving me a deeper kind of love for you. From now on I'm going to try my best to love you and be the best wife I can be. Many of your ways still bother me, but I will pray for you -- and my prayers will be that someday you will love me again as you did in the beginning. I'm not ready to give up on our marriage. I hope you can be patient with me as I learn to be a better wife."
In this instance Stephanie didn't get in the way of the Holy Spirit, who has been dealing with Ralph for some time, but she kept trying to do it herself, in effect interfering with the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit on Ralph. Now that she's decided to do it God's way the Holy Spirit can begin to work on his conscience in ways that only He can. Her love, kindness, and tender ways will begin to melt his hard heart -- and without her trying to do it herself now God can win him over.
Let's say that Robert is a believer and Angie is not, and Angie's not very happy about being married to Robert. She rebels and is angry with him much of the time.
"The Bible says you're to obey me, and by God I'm going to see to it you do. My meals are never on time, you're a lousy cook, and sex with you seems to be next to never! I'm going to make sure you shape up, woman!!!"
Yeah, that'll do it every time. Hit her over the head with that "obey me," stuff and she'll just melt in your arms – right?
But let's give Robert some hints on a better way.
Robert says to Angie "Honey, I know you're not happy and it's affecting our marriage, but from now on I'm going to do my best to love you as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it. I'm going to respect you, protect you, and do my best to provide for you. I'll do my best from here on out because I want to be the kind of husband God wants me to be. I’m hoping and praying that we can learn to love each other again, as we did in the beginning."
Refreshingly different . . . different results . . .
Couples must always remember that their spouse is not their enemy, it’s the enemy of our souls that came to steal, kill, and destroy, and he is the one we should be fighting against.
“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.” (Ephesians 6:12).
(PERSONAL NOTE: This month my wife and I will have been married 39 years and we have never had a fight or an argument (God knows this is true), and when we disagree we never let it turn into anger. She is my best friend, and I am hers, and we both know that harsh words spoken in anger can wound and leave scars that may never heal.)