How long have you been married? Is this your first marriage? How do you stay together? Does it matter?
It’s not that common anymore for people to stay married past 10 years or so. Divorce is the norm now , in Christian and secular relationships. Did those people expect their marriages to fall apart so quickly when they were in love and planning their wedding and had hopes and dreams for the future? Of course not. What went so terribly wrong that they decided they no longer loved each other? Each situation is different in the details, but there are usually a few factors that sent them down the path to failure.
Not being willing to put the other person first.
Marriage is a sacrificial relationship, like parenting, and like following Jesus as your Lord. There may be times when you MUST give up your own desires and goals and dreams to save your marriage. This may even be on a daily basis if life takes an unexpected turn. This is why it is so important to really understand the marriage vows.
Here is one example of a wedding vow.
I, (name), take you, ( name), to be my wife (or husband), to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part, according to God’s holy law, in the presence of God I make this vow.
Young, romantic, sexually charged, idealistic engaged couples often gloss over these words and don’t consider their actual ramifications. Will you really be willing to take a job doing whatever you have to do to support your family? Will you really be willing to live in a small house, have only one car ( or none), wear thrift store clothes, if that is all that your income allows? Will you stay with that person if they become clinically depressed or disabled? Will you be faithful and not cheat on them with other people if they gain weight or don’t suit your sexual tastes anymore? These are heavy questions, not fun to think about during the fun days of infatuation. That is why pre-marital counselling is so important for those who really seek to honor God and not get a divorce later.
Another cause for failed marriages, not putting in the effort and time needed to keep the relationship strong.
This is related to the first one. Both parties will have their favorite individual past-times and hobbies, but it is essential to be willing to spend quality time together. This may seem easy and it will be at first but over time people can change and their interests can change and you can find yourself in different worlds if you’re not careful. Also, if you have children, there will be years when you need to get a babysitter and go off without the children and just be a couple. I cannot emphasize this enough! Your kids will be fine for a few hours or days. They are going to grow up and move away. Do not lose your marriage because of your kids. But I think a bigger cause is usually just plain selfishness. We want things our way. But not being willing to do things he/she likes at least half the time is going to lead to resentment. No, don’t keep a list of dates when you did this and that. It won’t be necessary. You’ll know.
The last two common pitfalls are a bad sex life and poor money management.
Both of these cause great stress to at least one of the people in the marriage. Make sure you make them both a priority. A lack of sex is not going to lead to happiness for anyone. And being in debt because you are constantly buying things you can’t afford, even normal stuff like clothes and food, will create anxiety, anger, resentment, competition over who gets to buy things. Make a budget of some kind, get counselling if you need it, but learn to live within your means. Ouch, it can be hard. It may mean you need a better job. Or you may need to put yourself on a money diet. Learn to cook, make do with what you have for a little longer. Cut up the credit cards. Stop all online shopping. If you have a shopping addiction, you might need help with this. As for the sex, be creative. After being married awhile, it can get a bit routine. Don’t be afraid to mix it up. Married sex can be fun! You don’t need a new , younger, sexier partner. Part of this is taking care of your appearance and wanting to look good for your spouse. They will appreciate it and you’ll both benefit.
My last bit of advice is to actively love your spouse and treat them like your best friend. The world, media, divorced or single friends, and the devil will try to destroy your marriage in many ways. Beware of hanging out with people who are contemplating divorce! It is very contagious. And don’t destroy your own marriage by criticizing, complaining, ignoring, and failing to encourage, appreciate, and truly enjoy your spouse whom God has given you. Look for ways to build them up! Compliment their appearance. Thank them for things they do every day. Surprise them with little treats that you know they like. Dress up nice for them for no reason! Your marriage is a gift. Don’t waste it or throw it away even when times get really tough or even if one spouse really screws up.
6 “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’7 ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, 8 and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh.9 Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” Mark 10 NIV
10 When they were in the house again, the disciples asked Jesus about this. 11 He answered, “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. 12 And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery.”