faith life

What Should Be Different about a Christian Marriage?

It’s easy to think that only “other people” get divorced. That your own marriage is somehow immune to heartache, infidelity and fights over who gets the house, the car, the dog. After all, how many of us would walk down the aisle if we believed our relationships would end up in divorce court?

You get a lot of advice before you get married.

“Never go to bed angry.”

“Keep dating.”

“Make your partner your first priority.”

“Don’t walk out during an argument.”

“It’s all about communication.”

So why on earth do so many marriages fail?

Reasons Why Couples Break Up

Marriage has gotten quite a bad reputation over the years. The butt of a seemingly infinite number of jokes, matrimony is a source of endless social commentary, gender politics, and governmental debate.  

According to recent University of Maryland divorce research, you’ve got about a 50/50 chance of growing old with your spouse. If the statistic did not shock you, the reasons many couples decide to separate will not either.

 “The relationship was built more on lust than a true partnership.”

“I wasn’t present.”

“We were together 15 years, I was unhappy for 11 of them.”

“We were co-parents, not lovers.”

“We didn’t choose to work on the marriage, day in and day out.”

“It was like we were on opposite teams.”

“Married too fast”

“Bedroom boredom”

I was a full-time manager in the marriage.  

“There was no respect.”

“There was no real intimacy.”

Many people mistakenly believe that most marriages end almost exclusively because of infidelity, however, while this certainly is a major factor, the decision to terminate a marriage is much more complicated.

“Conventional wisdom tells us that those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.”

A marriage is a lot like buying a new car. Driving it out of the showroom is bliss. As you cruise off you can hardly believe your luck. Everything feels,  sounds, smells and looks perfect. You coast through many months—sometimes even years— of happy driving before the car needs an MOT or service. But like a car, when a relationship eventually breaks down, it’s flabbergasting; you’re left stuck on the side of the road trying to figure out what on earth went wrong and realise that no car or relationship comes with a lifetime guarantee.

Christ-centred Marriage

“Our culture still shapes our thinking and conduct regarding marriage to an incredible degree.”

It’s easy to think that only “other people” get divorced. That your own marriage is somehow immune to heartache, infidelity and fights over who gets the house, car and dog. After all, how many of us would walk down the aisle if we knew for sure that our relationships would end up in divorce court.

Viewing Marriage Realistically

Christian or not, marriage is difficult for any couple to sustain over a lifetime. Life’s trials—the pressure of making a living, of parenting, of resisting temptations to unfaithfulness or selfishness.  But Christian marriage offers hope.  

“We have to stop asking of marriage what God never designed it to give — perfect happiness, conflict-free living, and idolatrous obsession.”

Christians marriages should be shaped by the cross of Christ, the Word of God, and the Spirit of God.

“Above all things have fervent love for one another, for ‘love will cover a multitude of sins’ ” (1 Peter 4:8).

“Her husband ”¦ praises her” (Proverbs 31:28).

“She who is married cares ”¦ how she may please her husband” (1 Corinthians 7:34).

“Be kindly affectionate to one another ”¦ in honor giving preference to one another” (Romans 12:10).

“Pray for one another” (James 5:16).

“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself” (1 Corinthians 13:4).

Successful marriages don’t just happen; they must be developed.

Serving Our Spouse

Another key component in a Christian marriage is selflessness, as described in Philippians 2:3-4. The principle of humility outlined in these verses is crucial to a strong Christian marriage. If happiness is our primary goal, we’ll get a divorce as soon as happiness seems to wane.  With greater awareness of the principle of thought, many marriages can be saved and even strengthened.

Becoming “one” is about more than sex. It requires a level of vulnerability that opens the door for deep hurt. Both husband and wife must consider their partner’s needs before their own, which requires a selflessness that is only possible by the power of the Holy Spirit who indwells them.

“Focus on your spouse’s strengths rather than their weaknesses.”

“Encourage rather than criticize.”

“Pray for your spouse instead of gossiping about them.”

“Learn and live what Christ teaches about relating to and loving others.”

It is a partnership of love, made richer and deeper through sex.  Continue—or revive—your courtship into your married life.

Marriage isn’t always easy and the sad reality is that not all “I dos” end with a happily ever after. However, the primary difference between a Christian marriage and a non-Christian marriage should be that Christ is the centre of the marriage. With a Christ-centered relationship, an other-centered attitude and an unwavering commitment to making it work, your marriage can flourish — just as God designed.

Which of these reasons is most true in your marriage? Please share with me below.

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