It feels like everywhere I look recently, another marriage is struggling to survive. The issues are varied and far reaching. Spouses that once felt so much in love are now questioning whether or not it’s worth the fight. Others have given up completely.
What in the world is going on? Lately, seeing a healthy and growing marriage has been extremely rare. What are the core issues that are causing this complete breakdown? Why are so many couples struggling? I don’t consider myself to be some marriage guru, but here are some of the reflections that come to mind….
1. Couples are not taking the time to invest spiritually.
The core of marriage is found within the realm of spirituality. This goes even deeper than emotions. If both spouses do not have a growing relationship with God, they won’t make it for long. If they do stay together, there will be an extreme lack of intimacy.
The husband and wife need to be growing together and as individuals. This means they should read and pray together. They should see a counselor together, even if they’re not struggling at the time. Any investment they can make in their spiritual vitality will not be wasted.
Both spouses also need to invest in themselves as individuals. This is not selfish. On an airplane that is in trouble, oxygen masks deploy so that the passengers can continue to breathe. You’re not supposed to administer the mask to others until you first take care of yourself. The same principle applies here. God is the source of oxygen for a marriage and each spouse needs to be growing in their walk with Him if the marriage is going to thrive.
2. Couples aren’t allowing themselves to be vulnerable.
I see a lot of couples that spend countless hours trying to fix peripheral issues. I’m not saying that finances, kids, jobs and everything else are unimportant issues, but they’re not the main thing. What ultimately leads to dysfunction in a marriage is two messed up people trying to make life work together.
The couples that experience synergy and growth are the ones that allow themselves to be messed up and love each other through the mess. These couples are able to see through the pretenses of their spouse and they operate without a mask on. They know each other and love each other exactly as they are. They want to help each other grow, but their love and affection for one another is not contingent upon that growth.
They operate under the idea of a Covenant and not the idea of a Contract. A contract says that I will do my part just as long as you do yours. A covenant says that as God loves me in my sin and brokenness, so my commitment to you is to give the same unconditional love that I’m receiving from my Heavenly Father.
3. Couples don’t know who or what they’re supposed to be fighting.
I see plenty of fight in the couples that I’m with, but many of them don’t know who or what to fight. They fight each other….they fight their kids….they fight God….they fight everything except what they’re supposed to be fighting.
This world is a constant war zone. We would all love to embrace the notion that the world is a big cruise boat and everything is just fine…but this is a delusion. A pleasant delusion…but nonetheless a delusion. We are at war. I don’t have time to expound on this, but it’s real. The nature and intensity of this war would put history’s most famous battles to shame.
The fight is against our own sinful nature and spiritual entities that the most frightening horror movies don’t do justice to. I realize that this may be something you disagree with or it may make you feel comfortable, but it’s true. For further study on this, check out Ephesians 6:10-23.
Couples need to gradually become aware of the real battle that is going on or they will be consumed by friendly fire. We’re fighting each other and the real enemy is resting quite undisturbed.
Marriage is under fire and the normal methods of operation are not working. Normal is broken. If the tide is going to change, we need to be praying for couples who will begin fighting the battle the way that it needs to be fought. This is not for the faint at heart….but if we link arms and do it together, we can win this war.