I have met with hundreds of couples in my tenure in counseling and have, after much contemplation, review and prayer, narrowed the list to three major reasons why Christian marriages fail.
Here they are, in order of priority:
It’s a well-known axiom in real estate circles that the three most important considerations when purchasing a home are location, location, location. The point of course is that while there are other factors, the area the property is located in is so important that everything else you could say about it hardly matters. I have seen this analogy play out in my counseling practice. Selfishness is what leads to so many problems in the first place and also hinders what God wants to do to bring restoration because unforgiveness is rooted in selfishness.
Paul in his letters has much to say in terms of practical advice and admonitions for husbands and wives. Scripture must be interpreted in light of, and in context with, other scriptures and when you do that it is clear to me that a major key to successful marriages comes down to honoring and serving one another. This requires an act of the will (not based upon our feelings) that focuses on choosing to meet our spouse’s needs even when it is hard.
If you have one (primarily) selfish partner in the union then it can limp along. Two selfish people almost invariably results in carnage. A couple who professes Christ should be following biblical principles and if they do, then the marriage can survive, thrive and prosper! The principles work for everyone; I have seen many couples who do not profess Christ but their marriages are much healthier than many who do!
What if one is selfish? I have seen it happen repeatedly that when the giver perseveres in love and genuine Christ-like service (not being abused or a doormat!) then the power of God moves to heal and restore (1 Cor. 7:14). Those who remain in abusive relationships are not being unselfish; typically their passivity ends up enabling the continued bad behavior from their partner. Being a servant does not mean being a doormat and that person needs help often with setting and maintaining proper personal boundaries.
How does one begin to change things around in a marriage?
Start by recognizing the role and fruit of your selfishness in the marriage. Purpose, by the grace and wisdom of God, to begin to move to serve (and submit to) your spouse. Yes, husbands too are called to submit themselves to their wives (Eph. 5:21) even as wives are to submit to their husbands. Husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church (Eph. 5:25). He laid his life down for the church; that is the ultimate act of submission and service, is it not?
We have seen many people benefit greatly from deliverance ministry, temperament analysis and marriage counseling. We have seen others who reap very little. I believe the key begins with the attitude of the heart in this area of setting aside self.
If you are selfish, can you purpose and commit unilaterally to becoming more of a giver and less of a taker in your marriage? If you are primarily a giver now, you need to ask for the grace, wisdom, peace and power of God to move in your situation. He is faithful and all things are possible for those who believe!
Do you agree with these three reasons?
Check out our YouTube video on this same blog topic!