What Is Needed for a Successful Marriage? Essay

What Is Needed for a SUCCESSFUL MARRIAGE? Would you choose to dive into a river without first learning to swim? Such a foolish act could be harmful—even deadly. Think, though, of how many people jump into marriage with little awareness of how to take on the responsibilities involved. JESUS said: “Who of you that wants to build a tower does not first sit down and calculate the expense, to see if he has enough to complete it? ” (Luke 14:28) What is true of building a tower is also true of building a marriage. Those who want to get married should carefully count the cost of marriage to make sure they can meet the demands.

A Look at Marriage Having a mate with whom to share life’s joys and sorrows is truly a blessing. Marriage can fill a void caused by loneliness or despair. It can satisfy our inborn craving for love, companionship, and intimacy. With good reason, God said after creating Adam: “It is not good for the man to continue by himself. I am going to make a helper for him, as a complement of him. “—Genesis 2:18; 24:67; 1 Corinthians 7:9. Yes, being married can solve some problems. But it will introduce some new ones too. Why? Because marriage is the blending of two distinct personalities that are perhaps compatible but hardly identical.

Hence, even well-matched couples will experience occasional conflict. The Christian apostle Paul wrote that those who marry will have “tribulation in their flesh”—or as The New English Bible renders it, “pain and grief in this bodily life. “—1 Corinthians 7:28. Was Paul being pessimistic? Not at all! He was simply urging those considering marriage to be realists. The euphoric feeling of being attracted to someone is not an accurate gauge of what married life will be like in the months and years following the wedding day. Each marriage has its own unique challenges and problems.

The question is not whether they will arise but how to face them when they do. Problems give a husband and wife opportunity to show the genuineness of their love for each other. To illustrate: A cruise ship may seem majestic as it sits idle, moored at a pier. Its true seaworthiness, however, is proved at sea—perhaps even amid the crashing waves of a storm. Similarly, the strength of a marriage bond is not solely defined during peaceful moments of romantic calm. At times, it is proved under trialsome circumstances in which a couple weathers storms of adversity. “The Best Description of Love I’ve Ever Read” | |”How do you know if you’re really in love? ” writes Dr. Kevin Leman. “There’s an ancient | |book that contains a description of love. The book is nearly two thousand years old, but| |it is still the best description of love I’ve ever read. ” | |Dr. Leman was referring to the Christian apostle Paul’s words found in the Bible at 1 | |Corinthians 13:4-8: | |”Love is long-suffering and kind.

Love is not jealous, it does not brag, does not get | |puffed up, does not behave indecently, does not look for its own interests, does not | |become provoked. It does not keep account of the injury. It does not rejoice over | |unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, | |hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. ” | To do so, a married couple needs commitment, for God purposed that a man would “stick to his wife” and that the two would “become one flesh. (Genesis 2:24) The idea of commitment frightens many people today. Yet, it is only reasonable that two people who truly love each other will want to make a solemn promise to stay together. Commitment accords the marriage dignity. It provides a basis for confidence that, come what may, a husband and wife will support each other. * If you are not ready for such a commitment, you are not really ready for marriage. (Compare Ecclesiastes 5:4, 5. ) Even those who are already married may need to enhance their appreciation of how vital commitment is to an enduring marriage. [pic][pic] |[pic] | Even those long married can | |strengthen their marriage | |bonds | A Look at Yourself No doubt you can list the qualities you would want in a mate. It is much more difficult, however, to look at yourself to determine how you can contribute to a marriage. Self-scrutiny is vital, both before and after taking the vows of wedlock. For example, ask yourself the following questions. • Am I willing to make a lifelong commitment to my mate? —Matthew 19:6. In the days of the Bible prophet Malachi, many husbands left their mates, perhaps to marry younger women.

Jehovah said that his altar was covered with the tears of the abandoned wives, and he condemned men who thus “dealt treacherously” with their mates. —Malachi 2:13-16. • If I am thinking about getting married, am I past the youthful age when sexual feelings run quite strong and can distort good judgment? —1 Corinthians 7:36. “It is very risky to get married too young,” says Nikki, who was 22 when she married. She cautions: “Your feelings, goals, and tastes will continue to change from the time you are in your late teens until you are in your mid-to-late 20’s. ” Of course, readiness for marriage cannot be measured by age alone.

Nevertheless, marrying when one is not past the youthful stage when sexual feelings are new and especially strong can distort one’s thinking and blind one to potential problems. • What traits do I have that will help me contribute to a successful marriage? —Galatians 5:22, 23. The apostle Paul wrote to the Colossians: “Clothe yourselves with the tender affections of compassion, kindness, lowliness of mind, mildness, and long-suffering. ” (Colossians 3:12) This counsel is appropriate for those who are contemplating marriage as well as for those who are already married. Do I have the maturity needed to support a mate through difficult times? —Galatians 6:2. “When problems occur,” says one doctor, “the tendency is to blame the mate. Who is to blame is not what is most important. Rather, it is how both husband and wife can cooperate to improve the marital relationship. ” The words of wise King Solomon apply to married couples. “Two are better than one,” he wrote, “for if one of them should fall, the other one can raise his partner up. But how will it be with just the one who falls when there is not another to raise him up? —Ecclesiastes 4:9, 10. • Am I generally cheerful and optimistic, or am I predominantly gloomy and negative? —Proverbs 15:15. A negative person views each day as bad. Marriage does not miraculously change this attitude! A single person—man or woman—who is largely critical or pessimistic will simply become a married person who is just as critical or pessimistic. Such a negative outlook can put a terrible strain on a marriage. —Compare Proverbs 21:9. • Do I keep calm under pressure, or do I give in to uncontrolled expressions of rage? —Galatians 5:19, 20.

Christians are commanded to be “slow about wrath. ” (James 1:19) Before marriage and during marriage, a man or a woman should cultivate the ability to live by this counsel: “Be wrathful, and yet do not sin; let the sun not set with you in a provoked state. “—Ephesians 4:26. A Look at Your Prospective Partner “The shrewd one considers his steps,” states a Bible proverb. (Proverbs 14:15) This is certainly true when selecting a marriage mate. Choosing a marriage mate is one of the most important decisions a man or woman will ever make.

Yet, it has been observed that many people spend more time deciding which car to buy or which school to attend than which person to marry. In the Christian congregation, those who are entrusted with responsibility are “tested as to fitness first. ” (1 Timothy 3:10) If you are thinking about getting married, you will want to be sure of the “fitness” of the other person. Consider, for example, the following questions. Though they are presented from the standpoint of a woman, many of the principles also apply to a man. And even those who are married can beneficially consider these points. What kind of reputation does he have? —Philippians 2:19-22. Proverbs 31:23 describes a husband who is “known in the gates, when he sits down with the older men of the land. ” The older men of the city sat at the city gates to render judgment. So, evidently, he had a position of public trust. The way a man is viewed by others tells something about his reputation. If applicable, consider also the way he is viewed by those under his authority. This may indicate how you, as his mate, will in time come to view him. —Compare 1 Samuel 25:3, 23-25. • What kind of morals does he have?

Godly wisdom is “first of all chaste. ” (James 3:17) Is your prospective mate more interested in his own sexual gratification than in his and your standing before God? If he is not putting forth an effort to live by God’s moral standards now, what basis is there for believing that he will do so after marriage? —Genesis 39:7-12. • How does he treat me? —Ephesians 5:28, 29. The Bible book of Proverbs tells of a husband who “has put trust” in his wife. Moreover, “he praises her. ” (Proverbs 31:11, 28) He is not obsessively jealous, nor is he unreasonable in his expectations.

James wrote that the wisdom from above is “peaceable, reasonable, . . . full of mercy and good fruits. “—James 3:17. |[pic] |How does he treat his| | |parents? | • How does he treat members of his own family? —Exodus 20:12. Respect for parents is not just a requirement for children. The Bible says: “Listen to your father who caused your birth, and do not despise your mother just because she has grown old. ” (Proverbs 23:22) Interestingly, Dr. W.

Hugh Missildine wrote: “Many marital difficulties and incompatibilities might be avoided—or at least foreseen—if the prospective bride and groom visited one another’s homes casually and observed the relationship between the ‘intended’ and his parents. The way he looks at his parents will be the coloration through which he will see his spouse. One must ask: ‘Do I want to be treated as he treats his parents? ‘ And the way his parents treat him will be a good indication of how he will treat himself and how he will expect you to behave toward him—after the honeymoon. |Emotions Can Be Deceptive | |The Shulammite girl of Bible times was evidently well aware of the deceptive power of | |romantic feelings. When being wooed by powerful King Solomon, she told her girl | |companions “not to awaken or arouse love in me until it feels inclined. ” (Song of | |Solomon 2:7) This wise young woman did not want her friends to pressure her into being | |ruled by her emotions. This is practical, too, for those considering marriage today. |Keep a strong grip on your feelings. If you marry, it should be because you are in love | |with a person, not merely with the concept of being married. | • Is he given to fits of anger or abusive speech? The Bible counsels: “Let all malicious bitterness and anger and wrath and screaming and abusive speech be taken away from you. ” (Ephesians 4:31) Paul warned Timothy of some Christians who would be “mentally diseased over questionings and debates about words” and who would give way to “envy, strife, abusive speeches, wicked suspicions, violent disputes about trifles. —1 Timothy 6:4, 5. In addition, Paul wrote that one who qualifies for special privileges in the congregation should be “not a smiter”—according to the original Greek, “not dealing blows. ” (1 Timothy 3:3, footnote) He cannot be one who strikes people physically or browbeats them verbally. A person who is prone to become violent in a moment of anger is not a suitable marriage partner. • What are his goals? Some pursue riches and reap the inevitable consequences. (1 Timothy 6:9, 10) Others drift aimlessly through life with no goals to reach. Proverbs 6:6-11) A godly man, however, will show the same determination as did Joshua, who said: “As for me and my household, we shall serve Jehovah. “—Joshua 24:15. Rewards and Responsibilities Marriage is a divine institution. It was authorized and established by Jehovah God. (Genesis 2:22-24) He designed the marital arrangement in order to form a permanent bond between a man and a woman so that they might be mutually helpful to each other. When Bible principles are applied, a husband and wife can expect their lot in life to be a joyful one. —Ecclesiastes 9:7-9.

It must be realized, though, that we are living in “critical times hard to deal with. ” The Bible foretold that during this period of time, people would be “lovers of themselves, lovers of money, self-assuming, haughty, . . . disloyal, having no natural affection, not open to any agreement, . . . betrayers, headstrong, puffed up with pride. ” (2 Timothy 3:1-4) These traits can have a potent impact upon one’s marriage. Thus, those who are considering getting married should soberly count the cost. And those who are now married should continue to work at improving their union by learning and applying divine guidance found in the Bible.

Yes, those contemplating marriage will do well to look beyond the wedding day. And all should consider not only the act of getting married but also the life of being married. Look to Jehovah for guidance so that you will think realistically rather than just romantically. By doing so, you will be more likely to enjoy a successful marriage. Families that look to Jehovah for guidance are more likely to succeed. “Large Families United in God’s Service” is the concluding article of this series. [pic] * The Bible allows only one ground for divorce with the possibility of remarriage, and that is “fornication”—sex relations outside the marriage. Matthew 19:9. How to Build a Happy Marriage “A man . . . must stick to his wife and they must become one flesh. ”—GENESIS 2:24. OUR Maker, Jehovah God, instituted marriage as a permanent union between a man and a woman. Says Genesis 2:18, 22-24: “Jehovah God went on to say: ‘It is not good for the man to continue by himself. I am going to make a helper for him, as a complement of him. ’ And Jehovah God proceeded to build the rib that he had taken from the man into a woman and to bring her to the man. Then the man said: ‘This is at last bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.

This one will be called Woman, because from man this one was taken. ’ That is why a man will leave his father and his mother and he must stick to his wife and they must become one flesh. ” True, building a lasting, happy marriage is not easy, but it is certainly possible. Many couples have been happily married for 50, 60, or more years. How do they do it? They work at their marriage continually and unselfishly to “gain the approval” of their mate. (1 Corinthians 7:33, 34) That takes work. If you are willing to invest the time and effort, you too can build a happy marriage, one that will last a long time. pic] Follow God’s blueprint for marriage, found in the Bible Follow the Blueprint Carefully A trustworthy contractor would never start construction without first consulting a drawing. Similarly, we cannot succeed in building a happy marriage without carefully consulting God’s blueprint for the project. It is found in the pages of God’s Word. “All Scripture is inspired of God and beneficial . . . for setting things straight,” wrote the apostle Paul. —2 Timothy 3:16. Husbands and wives can learn a great deal about marriage by considering how Jesus dealt with his disciples.

How so? In the Bible the relationship between Jesus and those who will rule with him in heaven is likened to that between a man and his wife. (2 Corinthians 11:2) Jesus remained loyal to his associates, even during the most turbulent times. “He loved them to the end. ” (John 13:1) As a compassionate leader, Jesus always took into consideration the limitations and frailties of his followers. He never demanded of them more than they were able to do or give. —John 16:12. Even when disappointed by his closest friends, Jesus remained gentle.

He did not berate them, but, rather, with godly humility and kindness, he tried to readjust them. (Matthew 11:28-30; Mark 14:34-38; John 13:5-17) Thus, if you examine closely the way Jesus tenderly treated his followers and the way they returned that expression of love to him, you will learn practical lessons on building a happy marriage. —1 Peter 2:21. [pic] Make unselfish love and loyalty your solid foundation Build on a Solid Foundation Inevitably, stormlike trials will lash at the foundation of your marriage. This will test the underpinnings of your relationship with your spouse.

However, the sturdiest foundation on which to build a happy marriage is loyal commitment based on love. Jesus highlighted the importance of commitment when he said: “No one should separate a couple that God has joined together. ” (Matthew 19:6, Contemporary English Version) The expression “no one” would include the man and his wife, who have vowed to remain faithful to each other. Some may view commitment as burdensome, its demands and costs being too great. Today convenience usually wins out over the sacrifice involved in being committed to someone. What can sustain marital commitment?

The apostle Paul wrote: “Husbands ought to be loving their wives as their own bodies. ” (Ephesians 5:28, 29) In part, then, being “joined together” means that you feel as concerned about the welfare of your mate as you do about your own. Married people need to shift their thinking from “mine” to “ours,” from “me” to “we. ” Successfully weathering stormy attacks on your marriage will make you wise. Such acquired wisdom can result in happiness. “Happy is the man that has found wisdom,” notes Proverbs 3:13. Use Fireproof Materials [pic] Develop spiritual qualities that can withstand fiery tests

For a house to last and be safe, it must be well built. Therefore, resolve to build your marriage with an eye to a lasting future. Use durable materials, the kind that can withstand fiery tests of your loyalty. Value as gold such precious qualities as godly wisdom, generosity, discernment, fear of God, warmth, loving appreciation for God’s laws, and genuine faith. Happiness and contentment in marriage are not built on material possessions or secular advancement. They are built in the heart and mind, and these traits are strengthened by the truths from the Word of God.

The exhortation “Let each one keep watching how he is building” can also be applied to marriage. —1 Corinthians 3:10. When Problems Arise [pic] A good marriage needs to be maintained For a building to stand the test of time, a good maintenance program is necessary. When husband and wife regularly support each other in their goals and when they show honor and respect for each other, their marriage is kept strong. Selfishness does not take root, and anger is kept under control. Deep, unresolved anger and frustration can kill love and affection in a marriage.

The apostle Paul counseled men: “You husbands, keep on loving your wives and do not be bitterly angry with them. ” (Colossians 3:19) The same principle applies to wives. When spouses strive to be considerate, kind, and understanding, they contribute to their happiness and contentment. Avoiding ill-tempered and confrontational behavior helps prevent conflict when difficulties do arise. “Become kind to one another,” urged Paul, “tenderly compassionate, freely forgiving one another. ”—Ephesians 4:32. What if feelings of powerlessness, exasperation, or being underappreciated cause annoyance?

In a calm manner, state clearly to your mate the reason for your concern. However, it may be best to let love cover over minor matters. —1 Peter 4:8. One husband, who has experienced several trials during his marriage of 35 years, says that no matter how angry you may feel toward your mate, you should “never stop talking. ” He wisely adds, “Don’t ever stop loving. ” You Can Build a Happy Marriage! True, building a happy marriage is not easy. However, when marriage mates are determined to work hard to include God in their union, happiness and security will result.

Thus, watch closely the spiritual dimension in your family; have a rock-solid commitment to marriage. And remember that according to the words of Jesus, neither the husband nor the wife receives all the credit for a happy marriage. Rather, the credit primarily goes to the Originator of marriage, Jehovah God. “What God has yoked together let no man put apart. ”—Matthew 19:6. What Can Help You to Build a Happy Marriage? • Study God’s Word along with your mate regularly, and pray to God for help and guidance in resolving problems. —Proverbs 3:5, 6; Philippians 4:6, 7; 2 Timothy 3:16, 17. Confine sexual interest exclusively to your mate. —Proverbs 5:15-21; Hebrews 13:4. • Communicate openly, honestly, and lovingly about your problems and differences. —Proverbs 15:22; 20:5; 25:11. • Speak to your mate in a kind, considerate manner; avoid outbursts of anger, nagging, and harsh critical remarks. —Proverbs 15:1; 20:3; 21:9; 31:26, 28; Ephesians 4:31, 32. • Humbly apply Bible counsel even if you feel that your mate is not doing everything he or she should be doing. —Romans 14:12; 1 Peter 3:1, 2. • Work hard to cultivate the spiritual qualities mentioned in the Bible. Galatians 5:22, 23; Colossians 3:12-14; 1 Peter 3:3-6. FURTHER READING The book The Secret of Family Happiness, published by Jehovah’s Witnesses, provides practical suggestions for building a happy and successful marriage. Hundreds of thousands of married couples around the world have found that its practical Bible-based advice has helped them improve the quality of their relationship. HOW to Strengthen Your Marriage IMAGINE a house that has fallen into a state of disrepair. The paint is peeling, the roof is damaged, and even the lawn lies untended.

Obviously, this building has weathered some severe storms over the years, and it has suffered from neglect. Should it be demolished? Not necessarily. If the foundation is strong and the structure is stable, the house can likely be restored. Does the condition of that house remind you of your marriage? Over the years, severe storms, so to speak, may have taken a toll on your marital relationship. A degree of neglect may be involved on the part of one or both of you. You may feel as did Sandy. After 15 years of wedlock, she stated: “We had nothing in common but being married to each other.

And that wasn’t enough. ” Even if your marriage has reached this point, do not hastily conclude that it should be terminated. Likely, your marriage can be restored. Much depends on the level of commitment that exists between you and your mate. Commitment can help to give a marriage stability in times of trial. But what is commitment? And how can the Bible help you to strengthen it? [pic] In Marriage, Commitment Involves . . . • Obligation “What you vow, pay. Better is it that you vow not than that you vow and do not pay. “—Ecclesiastes 5:4, 5. • Teamwork “Two are better than one . . .

For if one of them should fall, the other one can raise his partner up. “—Ecclesiastes 4:9, 10. • Self-Sacrifice “There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving. “—Acts 20:35. • A Long-Term View “Love . . . endures all things. “—1 Corinthians 13:4, 7. [pic][pic] Commitment Involves Obligation According to one dictionary, commitment refers to “the state of being obligated or emotionally impelled. ” At times, the word is applied to something impersonal, such as a business agreement. For example, a builder might feel obliged to fulfill the demands of a contract he has signed to construct a house.

He may not personally know the one who commissioned the work. Still, he feels compelled to live up to his word. Although marriage is not a cold business deal, the commitment involved includes obligation. You and your mate likely have solemnly vowed before God and man to stay together, come what may. Jesus stated: “He who created [man and woman] from the beginning made them male and female and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and his mother and will stick to his wife. ‘” Jesus added: “What God has yoked together let no man put apart. (Matthew 19:4-6) When problems arise, then, you and your mate should be firmly resolved to honor the commitment you made. * Says one wife: “It wasn’t until we stopped considering divorce as an option that things began to improve. ” There is more to marital commitment, though, than obligation. What else is involved? Teamwork Strengthens Commitment to Marriage Commitment to marriage does not mean that marriage mates will never disagree with each other. When a conflict occurs, there should be an earnest desire to resolve the matter not only because of an obligatory vow but because of an emotional bond.

Regarding husband and wife, Jesus said: “They are no longer two, but one flesh. ” What does it mean to be “one flesh” with your mate? The apostle Paul wrote that “husbands ought to be loving their wives as their own bodies. ” (Ephesians 5:28, 29) In part, then, being “one flesh” means that you feel as concerned with the welfare of your mate as you are with your own. Married people need to shift their thinking from “mine” to “ours,” from “me” to “we. ” One counselor wrote: “Both partners must stop being single at heart, and come to be married at heart. ” Are you and your spouse “married at heart”?

It is possible to be together for many years and yet not be “one flesh” in that sense. Yes, that can happen, but the book Giving Time a Chance says: “Marriage means sharing a life, and the more two people share, the more there is to grow on. ” Some unhappy couples stay together for the sake of their children or for financial security. Others endure because they have strong moral objections to divorce or because they fear what others will think if they break up. While it is commendable that these marriages endure, remember that your goal should be to have a loving relationship, not simply a lasting one.

Unselfish Acts Promote Marital Commitment The Bible foretold that during “the last days,” people would be “lovers of themselves. ” (2 Timothy 3:1, 2) True to that prophecy, the emphasis today seems to be on a worshipful devotion to self. In all too many marriages, to give of oneself without guarantee of reciprocation is viewed as a sign of weakness. In a healthy marriage, however, both mates display a self-sacrificing spirit. How can you do so? Instead of dwelling on the question, ‘What am I getting out of this relationship? ‘ ask yourself, ‘What am I personally doing to strengthen my marriage? The Bible says that Christians should be “keeping an eye, not in personal interest upon just [their] own matters, but also in personal interest upon those of the others. ” (Philippians 2:4) While pondering this Bible principle, analyze your actions during the past week. How often did you perform an act of kindness solely for the benefit of your spouse? When your mate wanted to talk, did you listen—even if you did not feel particularly inclined to do so? How many activities did you engage in that interested your mate more than you? [pic][pic] When your mate wants to talk, do you listen? [pic][pic]

In weighing such questions, do not worry that your good deeds will go unnoticed or unrewarded. “In most relationships,” says one reference work, “positive behavior is reciprocated, so do your best to encourage your partner to behave positively by behaving more positively yourself. ” Self-sacrificing acts strengthen your marriage because they show that you value it and want to preserve it. A Long-Term View Is Essential Jehovah God values loyalty. Indeed, the Bible states: “With someone loyal you [Jehovah] will act in loyalty. ” (2 Samuel 22:26) Remaining loyal to God entails remaining loyal to the marriage arrangement that he instituted. Genesis 2:24. If you and your mate are loyal to each other, you enjoy a sense of permanence about your union. When you think about the months, years, and decades ahead, you see yourselves together in the picture. The thought of not being married to each other is utterly foreign, and this outlook brings security to your relationship. One wife says: “Even when I’m maddest at [my husband] and I’m most upset about what is happening to us, I’m not worrying about our marriage coming to an end. I’m worried about how we are ever going to get back to where we were.

I don’t have a doubt in the world that we’re going to get back—I just can’t see how right then. ” A long-term view is an essential part of commitment to one’s mate, yet it is sadly lacking in many marriages. During heated exchanges, one spouse may blurt out, “I’m leaving you! ” or, “I’m going to find someone who really appreciates me! ” Granted, most often such words are not meant literally. Still, the Bible notes that the tongue can be “full of death-dealing poison. ” (James 3:8) Threats and ultimatums send out the message: ‘I do not view our marriage as permanent. I can leave it at any time. Implying such a thing can be destructive to a marriage. When you have a long-term view, you expect to be with your mate through thick and thin. This has an added benefit. It will make it far easier for you and your mate to accept weaknesses and mistakes and to continue putting up with each other and forgiving each other freely. (Colossians 3:13) “In a good marriage,” says one handbook, “there’s room for both of you to fail, and for the marriage to hold together in spite of it. ”   [pic][pic] What You Can Do Now How does your marriage fare with regard to commitment? Perhaps you see room for improvement.

To strengthen your commitment, try the following: • Make a self-examination. Ask yourself: ‘Am I truly married at heart, or am I still thinking and acting as a single person? ‘ Find out how your mate feels about you in this area. • Read this article with your spouse. Then, in a calm manner, discuss ways that you can strengthen your commitment to your marriage. • With your mate, engage in activities that strengthen your commitment. For example: Look at photographs of your wedding and other memorable events. Do things that you enjoyed during courtship or in the early years of your marriage.

Study together Bible-based articles from The Watchtower and Awake! that pertain to marriage. [pic][pic] On your wedding day, you made a commitment, not to the institution of marriage, but to a living person—your mate. This fact should have a profound effect on the way you now think and act as a married person. Do you not agree that you should remain with your mate not only because you strongly believe in the sanctity of marriage but also because you love the person you married? [pic] * In extreme cases, there may be valid reason for a married couple to separate. 1 Corinthians 7:10, 11; see The Secret of Family Happiness, pages 160-1, published by Jehovah’s Witnesses. ) In addition, the Bible allows for divorce on the grounds of fornication (sexual immorality). —Matthew 19:9. Your Marriage Can Be Saved! The Bible abounds with practical counsel that can benefit husbands and wives. This is hardly surprising, for the One who inspired the Bible is also the Originator of the marriage arrangement. The Bible paints a realistic picture of marriage. It acknowledges that a husband and wife will have “tribulation” or, as the New English Bible renders it, “pain and grief. (1 Corinthians 7:28) Yet, the Bible also says that marriage can and should produce joy, even ecstasy. (Proverbs 5:18, 19) These two thoughts are not contradictory. They merely show that despite serious problems, a couple can attain a close and loving relationship. Is that lacking in your marriage? Has pain and disappointment overshadowed the intimacy and joy that once characterized your relationship? Even if your marriage has been in a loveless state for many years, what was lost can be found. Of course, you have to be realistic. No imperfect man and woman are able to achieve a perfect marriage.

Nevertheless, there are steps that you can take to reverse negative trends. While reading the following material, try to identify which points particularly apply to your marriage. Instead of focusing on the shortcomings of your mate, select a few suggestions that you can put into practice, and apply the Scriptural counsel. You may find that there is more hope for your marriage than you realized. Let us first discuss attitude because your view of commitment and your feelings toward your spouse are of utmost importance. [pic] Your View of Commitment A long-term view is essential if you are going to work on your marriage.

After all, the marital arrangement was designed by God to link two humans inseparably. (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:4, 5) Hence, your relationship with your spouse is not like a job that you can quit or an apartment that you can escape from by simply breaking the lease and moving out. Rather, when getting married you made a solemn promise to stick with your mate, come what may. A deep sense of commitment conforms to what Jesus Christ stated nearly 2,000 years ago: “What God has yoked together let no man put apart. “—Matthew 19:6. Some might say, ‘Well, we’re still together.

Isn’t this proof that we have a sense of commitment? ‘ Perhaps. However, as noted at the outset of this series, some couples who stay together are stuck in stagnant waters, trapped in a loveless marriage. Your goal is to make your marriage enjoyable, not just endurable. Commitment should reflect loyalty not only to the institution of marriage but also to the person whom you have vowed to love and cherish. —Ephesians 5:33. The things you say to your mate can reveal just how deep your commitment is. For example, in the heat of an argument, some husbands and wives make rash statements such as “I’m leaving you! or “I’m going to find someone who appreciates me! ” Even if such comments are not meant literally, they undermine commitment by implying that the door is always open and that the speaker is ever poised and ready to walk through it. To restore love in your marriage, eliminate such threats from your conversations. After all, would you decorate an apartment if you knew that any day you might be moving out of it? Why, then, expect your mate to work on a marriage that may not last? Determine that you will try earnestly to work toward solutions.

This is what one wife did after going through a turbulent period with her husband. “As much as I disliked him at times, I didn’t think about getting out of the relationship,” she says. “Whatever was broken, we were going to fix it somehow. And now, after two very rocky years, I can honestly say that we are quite happy together again. ” Yes, commitment means teamwork—not just coexisting but working toward a common goal. However, you may feel that at this point it is only a sense of duty that is keeping your marriage together. If this is so, do not despair. It may be that love can be recaptured. How? Throw The Ball Gently | |[pic] | |The Bible states: “Let your utterance be always with graciousness, seasoned with salt, | |so as to know how you ought to give an answer to each one. ” (Colossians 4:6) This | |certainly applies in marriage! To illustrate: In a game of catch, you toss the ball so | |that it can be caught easily. You do not fling it with such force that you injure your | |partner. Apply the same principle when speaking with your spouse.

Hurling bitter remarks| |will only cause harm. Instead, speak gently—with graciousness—so that your mate can | |catch your point. | Honoring Your Spouse The Bible states: “Let marriage be honorable among all. ” (Hebrews 13:4; Romans 12:10) Forms of the Greek word here translated “honorable” are rendered elsewhere in the Bible as “dear,” “esteemed,” and “precious. ” When we highly value something, we make painstaking efforts to care for it. Perhaps you have noted that to be true of a man who owns an expensive new car. He keeps his precious car shining and in good repair. To him even a minor scratch is a major catastrophe!

Other people take similar care of their health. Why? Because they value their well-being, and so they want to safeguard it. Show the same protective care for your marriage. The Bible says that love “hopes all things. ” (1 Corinthians 13:7) Instead of giving in to defeatist thinking—perhaps writing off the potential for improvement by saying, “We were never really in love,” “We married too young,” or “We didn’t know what we were doing”—why not hope for better things and work toward improvement, waiting patiently for results? “I hear so many of my clients intone, ‘I can’t handle it anymore! ” says one marriage counselor. “Instead of dissecting the relationship to see which parts of it need improvement, they hastily junk the entire endeavor, including the values they do share, the history they’ve carefully assembled, and any potential for the future. ” What history do you share with your mate? Regardless of the difficulties in your relationship, surely you can think of pleasant times, accomplishments, and challenges that you faced as a team. Reflect on these occasions, and show that you honor your marriage and your marriage mate by sincerely working to improve your relationship.

The Bible shows that Jehovah God takes a keen interest in how marriage mates treat each other. For example, in the prophet Malachi’s day, Jehovah censured Israelite husbands who dealt treacherously with their wives by frivolously divorcing them. (Malachi 2:13-16) Christians want their marriage to bring honor to Jehovah God. |New Mate, Same Problems | |Some spouses who feel trapped in a loveless marriage are tempted to start all over with | |a new mate.

But the Bible condemns adultery, stating that a person who engages in this | |sin “is in want of heart [“is a senseless fool,” New English Bible]” and “is bringing | |his own soul to ruin. ” (Proverbs 6:32) Ultimately, the unrepentant adulterer loses God’s| |favor—the worst kind of ruin possible. —Hebrews 13:4. | |The utter foolishness of an adulterous course is shown in other ways too. For one thing,| |the adulterer who takes on a new spouse is likely to be confronted with the same | |problems that plagued his first marriage. Dr.

Diane Medved brings up another factor to | |consider: “The first thing your new mate learned about you,” she says, “was that you’re | |willing to be unfaithful. He or she knows that you can be deceptive to one you’ve | |promised to honor. That you’re great with excuses. That you can be distracted away from | |commitment. That sensory pleasure or ego gratification are bait that you’ll follow. . . | |. How does spouse number two know that you won’t be lured away again? ” | Conflict—How Serious? A chief factor in loveless marriages seems to be an inability of the husband and wife to manage conflict.

Since no two people are exactly alike, all marriages will have occasional disagreements. But couples who are constantly at odds may find that over the years their love has cooled. They might even conclude, ‘We’re just not well matched. We’re always fighting! ‘ Yet, the mere presence of conflict does not have to be the death knell of a marriage. The question is, How is conflict handled? In a successful marriage, the husband and wife have learned to talk about their problems without becoming, as one doctor calls it, “intimate enemies. ”   [pic] |Reminisce! | |Read letters and cards from the past. Look at pictures.

Ask yourself, ‘What drew me to | |my partner? What qualities did I most admire? What activities did we share in? What made| |us laugh? ‘ Then talk about these memories with your spouse. A conversation that starts | |with the phrase “Remember the time . . . ?” may help you and your spouse to revive the | |feelings that you once shared. | “The Power of the Tongue” Do you and your mate know how to talk about your problems? Both should be willing to talk them out. Truly, this is a skill—one that can be challenging to learn. Why? For one thing, all of us occasionally “stumble in word” because of being imperfect. James 3:2) Then, too, some were raised in homes where a parent’s anger was unleashed on a regular basis. From an early age, they were, in a sense, trained to believe that temperamental outbursts and abusive speech are normal. A boy raised in such an environment may grow up to become “a man given to anger,” one who is “disposed to rage. ” (Proverbs 29:22) Similarly, a girl with such an upbringing may become “a bitter-tongued and angry woman. ” (Proverbs 21:19, The Bible in Basic English) It can be difficult to uproot strongly entrenched patterns of thinking and interacting. Managing conflict, then, involves learning new ways to express one’s thoughts. This is no trivial matter, for a Bible proverb states: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue. ” (Proverbs 18:21) Yes, simple as it may sound, how you talk to your spouse has the potential to destroy your relationship or to revive it. “There exists the one speaking thoughtlessly as with the stabs of a sword,” says another Bible proverb, “but the tongue of the wise ones is a healing. “—Proverbs 12:18. Do your words hurt, or do they heal?

Even if your mate seems to be the prime offender in this regard, give thought to the things that you say during a disagreement. Do your words hurt, or do they heal? Do they provoke rage or mollify it? “A word causing pain makes anger to come up,” says the Bible. In contrast, “an answer, when mild, turns away rage. ” (Proverbs 15:1) Words causing pain—even if they are spoken calmly—will inflame the situation. Of course, if something disturbs you, you have a right to express yourself. (Genesis 21:9-12) But you can do so without resorting to sarcasm, insults, and put-downs.

Set firm boundaries for yourself—some things that you will resolve not to say to your mate, such as “I hate you” or “I wish we had never married. ” And although the Christian apostle Paul was not specifically discussing marriage, it is wise to avoid getting caught up in what he called “debates about words” and “violent disputes about trifles. “# (1 Timothy 6:4, 5) If your spouse uses such methods, you do not have to respond in kind. As far as it depends upon you, pursue peace. —Romans 12:17, 18; Philippians 2:14. Admittedly, when tempers flare, it is difficult to control one’s speech. “The tongue is a fire,” says the Bible writer James. Not one of mankind can get it tamed. An unruly injurious thing, it is full of death-dealing poison. ” (James 3:6, 8) What can you do, then, when anger begins to build? How can you speak to your mate in a manner that will quell the conflict rather than add fuel to it? Defusing Explosive Arguments Some have found that it is easier to slow down anger and address underlying issues if they put emphasis on their feelings rather than on their mate’s actions. For example, “I feel hurt because of what you said” is much more effective than “You hurt me” or “You should know better than to say that. Of course, when expressing how you feel, the tone of your voice should not be laced with bitterness or contempt. Your objective should be to highlight the problem rather than attack the person. —Genesis 27:46-28:1. In addition, always remember that there is “a time to keep quiet and a time to speak. ” (Ecclesiastes 3:7) When two people are talking at the same time, neither one is listening, and nothing is accomplished. So when it is your turn to listen, be “swift about hearing, slow about speaking. ” Equally important, be “slow about wrath. (James 1:19) Do not take literally every harsh word that your mate utters; neither “hurry yourself in your spirit to become offended. ” (Ecclesiastes 7:9) Instead, try to perceive the feelings behind your mate’s words. “The insight of a man certainly slows down his anger,” says the Bible, “and it is beauty on his part to pass over transgression. ” (Proverbs 19:11) Insight can help a husband or wife look beneath the surface of a disagreement. For example, a wife’s complaint that her husband does not spend time with her is likely not simply about hours and minutes. It may have more to do with her feeling neglected or unappreciated.

Similarly, a husband’s grievance concerning an impulsive purchase that his wife made is probably not just about dollars and cents. It may be more about his feeling left out of the decision-making process. The husband or wife having insight will probe beneath the surface and get to the core of the problem. —Proverbs 16:23. Is this easier said than done? Absolutely! Sometimes, despite the best of efforts, unkind words will be spoken and tempers will flare. When you see this start to happen, you may need to follow the advice of Proverbs 17:14: “Before the quarrel has burst forth, take your leave. There is nothing wrong with postponing the discussion until feelings have cooled down. If it is difficult to talk without things getting out of hand, it may be advisable to have a mature friend sit down with the two of you and help you to sort through your differences. %   [pic] Maintain a Realistic Outlook Do not be discouraged if your marriage is not what you envisioned it would be during courtship. Says one team of experts: “Unending bliss is just not what marriage is like for most people. It’s wonderful at times and very hard at other times. ” Yes, marriage may not be a storybook romance, but neither does it have to be a tragedy.

While there will be times when you and your spouse will just have to put up with each other, there will also be occasions when you can put your differences aside and just enjoy being together, having fun, and talking to each other as friends. (Ephesians 4:2; Colossians 3:13) These are the times when you may be able to rekindle the love that has faded. Remember, two imperfect humans cannot have a perfect marriage. But they can find a measure of happiness. Indeed, even with difficulties, the relationship between you and your spouse can be a wellspring of immense satisfaction.

One thing is certain: If both you and your mate put forth effort and are willing to be flexible and seek the advantage of the other person, there is good reason to believe that your marriage can be saved. —1 Corinthians 10:24. [pic] |Wisdom From Bible Proverbs | |Proverbs 10:19: “In the abundance of words there does not fail to be transgression, but | |the one keeping his lips in check is acting discreetly. ” | |When you are upset, you may say more than you mean to—and later regret it. |Proverbs 15:18: “An enraged man stirs up contention, but one that is slow to anger | |quiets down quarreling. ” | |Stinging accusations will likely make your spouse defensive, whereas patient listening | |will help both of you work toward a resolution. | |Proverbs 17:27: “Anyone holding back his sayings is possessed of knowledge, and a man of| |discernment is cool of spirit. ” | |When you sense that anger is building, it is best to keep quiet so as to avoid a | |full-blown confrontation. |Proverbs 29:11: “All his spirit is what a stupid one lets out, but he that is wise keeps| |it calm to the last. ” | |Self-control is vital. A temperamental outburst of harsh words will only alienate your | |spouse. | [pic] * Parental influence does not excuse harsh speech directed at one’s mate. However, it may help explain how such a tendency can become deeply ingrained and difficult to uproot. # The original Greek word translated “violent disputes about trifles” can also be rendered “mutual irritations. % Jehovah’s Witnesses have the resource of congregation elders. While it is not their place to meddle in the personal affairs of married couples, the elders can be a refreshing aid to couples in distress. —James 5:14, 15. KEYS TO FAMILY HAPPINESS Maintaining Commitment in Your Marriage Related topics: • What Does Headship in Marriage Really Mean? • Managing Conflicts • A House Divided—The Impact of Divorce on Adolescents [pic] She says: “I noticed for some time that Michael, my husband, had been emotionally distant from me and was treating our children coldly. His behavior changed soon after we were connected to the Internet, and I suspected that he was viewing pornography on the computer. One night after the children had gone to bed, I cornered him, and he confessed that he had been viewing pornographic Web sites. I was devastated. I couldn’t believe that this was happening to me. I completely lost trust in him. To make matters worse, a workmate had recently started to express a romantic interest in me. ” [pic] He says: “Some time ago my wife, Maria, discovered a picture stored on our computer and confronted me about it.

When I admitted that I regularly visited pornographic Web sites, she was livid. I felt horribly embarrassed and very guilty. I thought it was the end of our marriage. ” WHAT do you think happened to Michael and Maria’s relationship? You may think that viewing pornography was Michael’s main problem. But as Michael came to realize, this vice was really a symptom of a deeper issue—a lack of commitment to the marriage. # When Michael and Maria were first married, they looked forward to a life of shared love and enjoyable experiences. Like many couples, though, their commitment to the marriage waned over time, and they seemed to drift apart.

Do you feel that the bond between you and your mate has weakened as the years have passed? Would you like to reverse that trend? If so, you need to know the answers to three questions: What does it mean to be committed to your marriage? What challenges can undermine such commitment? And what can you do to strengthen your commitment to your mate? What Is Commitment? How would you define commitment in marriage? Many would say that it springs from a sense of duty. For example, a couple may remain committed to their marriage because of their children or because of a duty they feel toward God, the Originator of marriage. Genesis 2:22-24) Certainly, such motives are admirable and will help a marriage survive difficult times. But to be happy, marriage mates need to feel more than just a sense of obligation to each other. Jehovah God designed marriage to bring a couple deep-seated joy and contentment. He intended for a man to “rejoice with [his] wife” and for a woman to love her husband and to feel that her husband loves her as he does his own body. (Proverbs 5:18; Ephesians 5:28) To create that sort of bond, a couple must learn to trust each other. Equally important, they need to develop a lifelong friendship.

When a man and woman earn each other’s trust and work at becoming the best of friends, their commitment to the marriage will grow. They will form a bond the Bible describes as being so close that it is as if the two people were “one flesh. ”—Matthew 19:5. Commitment, therefore, could be likened to the mortar that binds the bricks of a sturdy house. Mortar is made from a combination of ingredients, including sand, cement, and water. Similarly, commitment is formed from a combination of such factors as duty, trust, and friendship. What may weaken that bond? What Are the Challenges?

Commitment requires hard work and self-sacrifice. It demands that you be willing to forgo your own preferences in order to please your mate. However, the concept of yielding to someone else’s wishes—of giving without asking, ‘What’s in it for me? ’—has become unpopular with many and even offensive to some. But ask yourself, ‘How many selfish people do I know who have a happy marriage? ’ Likely the answer is, Few if any. Why? A selfish individual will not likely remain committed to a marriage when personal sacrifice is required, especially when there is no immediate payoff for the small concessions he or she may make.

Without commitment, a relationship will sour, no matter how sweet the romantic feelings were when a couple first fell in love. The Bible realistically acknowledges that marriage is hard work. It states that “the married man is anxious for the things of the world, how he may gain the approval of his wife,” and that “the married woman is anxious for the things of the world, how she may gain the approval of her husband. ” (1 Corinthians 7:33, 34) Unfortunately, even marriage mates who normally are unselfish do not always acknowledge each other’s anxieties or value their mate’s sacrifices.

When a couple fail to show appreciation for each other, their marriage is bound to cause them more “tribulation in their flesh” than it would otherwise. —1 Corinthians 7:28. If your marriage is to survive difficult times and to thrive during good times, you need to develop a long-term view of your relationship. How can you develop such an attitude, and how can you encourage your mate to remain committed to you? How to Strengthen Commitment A key factor is humbly to apply the advice of God’s Word, the Bible. By doing so you will “benefit yourself” and your mate. Isaiah 48:17) Consider just two practical steps you can take. 1. Make your marriage a priority. “Make sure of the more important things,” wrote the apostle Paul. (Philippians 1:10) In God’s eyes, the way a husband and wife treat each other is very important. A man who honors his wife will be honored by God. And a woman who respects her husband has “great value in the eyes of God. ”—1 Peter 3:1-4, 7. Make time for your mate [pic] How important is your marriage to you? Usually, the more important an endeavor, the more time you spend on it.

Ask yourself: ‘Over the past month, how much time did I set aside just to spend with my mate? What specific things have I done to reassure my mate that we are still good friends? ’ If you invested little or no time in maintaining your marriage, your mate may find it difficult to believe that you are committed to the union. Does your mate think that you are committed to your marriage? How can you find out? TRY THIS: Write on a piece of paper the following five categories: money, work, marriage, entertainment, and friends. Now number the list according to what you believe to be your spouse’s priorities.

Ask your mate to do the same about you. When completed, exchange lists with your mate. If your mate feels that you are not investing enough time and energy in the marriage, discuss what changes you may need to make to strengthen your commitment to each other. Also, ask yourself, ‘What can I do to take more of an interest in the things that are important to my mate? ’ Infidelity begins in the heart [pic] 2. Avoid all forms of infidelity. Jesus Christ said: “Everyone that keeps on looking at a woman so as to have a passion for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Matthew 5:28) When a person engages in sexual intercourse outside of marriage, he or she delivers a devastating blow to the union, one that the Bible says is grounds for divorce. (Matthew 5:32) However, Jesus’ words quoted above show that a wrong desire can exist in the heart long before a person actually engages in the physical act of adultery. Entertaining that wrong desire is in itself a form of betrayal. To maintain your commitment to your marriage, make a solemn pledge not to view pornography. Despite what many may say, pornography is poison to a marriage.

Note the way one wife expresses her feelings about her husband’s viewing habits: “My husband says that watching pornography spices up our love life. But it just makes me feel that I’m worthless, that I’m not enough for him. I cry myself to sleep when he watches it. ” Would you say that this man is strengthening his commitment to his marriage, or is he undermining it? Do you think that he is making it easier for his wife to remain committed to the marriage? Is he treating her as his closest friend? The faithful man Job expressed his commitment to his marriage and to his God by making ‘a covenant with his eyes. He was determined not to ‘show himself attentive to a virgin. ’ (Job 31:1) How can you imitate Job? In addition to avoiding pornography, you need to guard your heart from forming an inappropriate attachment to a member of the opposite sex. True, many feel that flirting with members of the opposite sex does no harm to a marriage. But God’s Word warns us: “The heart is more treacherous than anything else and is desperate. Who can know it? ” (Jeremiah 17:9) Has your heart fooled you? Ask yourself: ‘To whom am I most attentive—my spouse or some other member of the opposite sex? With whom do I share good news first—my spouse, or someone else?

If my spouse asked me to limit my contact with an associate of the opposite sex, how would I react? Would I be resentful, or would I happily make the requested change? ’ TRY THIS: If you find yourself attracted to someone other than your mate, limit your contact with that one to only what is necessary and keep all encounters on a purely professional level. Do not focus on ways in which you think this person is superior to your mate. Instead, focus on your mate’s positive qualities. (Proverbs 31:29) Recall the reasons why you fell in love with your mate. Ask yourself, ‘Has my mate really lost these qualities, or have I become blind to them? Take the Initiative Michael and Maria, quoted at the outset, decided to ask for advice on how to resolve their issues. Of course, seeking advice is just the first step. But by being willing to face their problems and seek help, both Michael and Maria sent a clear message that they are committed to their marriage, that they are willing to work hard to make it succeed. Whether your marriage is stable or strained, your mate needs to know that you are committed to making the marriage a success. Take whatever appropriate steps are necessary to convince your mate of that fact. Are you willing to do that? pic] *  Names have been changed. #  While the example here is of a man who viewed pornography, a woman who did the same would also be displaying a lack of commitment to the marriage. ASK YOURSELF . . . • What activities could I cut back on to allow more time for my mate? • What could I do to assure my mate that I am committed to our marriage? The Wedding Day—Making It a Joyful Beginning [pic] Marriage Should Be a Permanent Bond JUDGING by the conclusion of many movies, marriage is a desirable goal. Often, the man and the woman finally get together, get married, and live “happily ever after. In films, that is usually the end of the story. In reality, the wedding is, not the end, but the beginning of a new life together. And hopefully, as Ecclesiastes 7:8 says, “better is the end afterward of a matter than its beginning. ” A Permanent Bond Farsightedness is needed. A marriage must have solid foundations if it is to last and be satisfying. Otherwise, the stress experienced after the wedding can be much greater than the stress before it. A Christian cannot enter marriage thinking: ‘If it doesn’t work out, I can always divorce. ‘ Marriage is to be viewed as a permanent bond.

Jesus made clear that marriage was to be permanent when he answered a question put to him about the propriety of divorce. He stated: “Did you not read that [God] who created them from the beginning made them male and female and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and his mother and will stick to his wife, and the two will be one flesh’? So that they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has yoked together let no man put apart. “—Matthew 19:4-6. After the Wedding Day It has rightly been said that in the life of a Christian, marriage is second in importance only to his or her dedication to God.

The latter binds one to the Creator forever, and baptism makes that publicly manifest. Marriage is the public declaration of commitment to another person—forever. It is unthinkable either to dedicate oneself to God or to forge a marriage bond while having serious reservations. Therefore, those contemplating marriage do well to examine carefully the prospective mate’s beliefs, goals, attitudes, and disposition. |[pic] |Marriage should be viewed as a | | |permanent arrangement |

In preparing for the wedding, kindness, thoughtfulness, and the spirit of cooperation are important. Such qualities are even more important afterward in making the marriage a success. The newlyweds are in love, but after marriage it has to be remembered that on a daily basis, love “does not look for its own interests. ” When applied consistently year after year, “love never fails. ” (1 Corinthians 13:5, 8) With an abiding love, such qualities as long-suffering, kindness, goodness, mildness, and self-control—fruitage of God’s spirit—will be easier to demonstrate. These qualities are necessary for a successful marriage. Galatians 5:22, 23. The difficult part is continuing to manifest such qualities after the wedding day. However, the secret to success in manifesting such good qualities is this: Love the person you married, and be willing to make sacrifices. Jesus said that the greatest commandment for humans is to love Jehovah, and he said that the second-greatest commandment is, “Love your neighbor as yourself. ” (Matthew 22:39) A married person’s closest neighbor is his or her marriage partner, for nothing on earth can unite two individuals as marriage can. However, a mere physical union in itself cannot guarantee emotional harmony.

The union of two bodies is not always the union of two minds. For the sexual union to give maximum satisfaction, there also has to be the second—the union of hearts and of intentions. More often than not, making sacrifices for the other person is the price that needs to be paid to make marriage a success. Who should make the sacrifices? The husband? The wife? Showing Love and Honor God’s Word commands: “In showing honor to one another take the lead. ” (Romans 12:10) If you can, make the sacrifice before your mate asks it of you. After all, something obtained after repeated requests has already lost part of its value.

Instead, each partner in a marriage should cultivate the habit of taking the initiative in showing honor to the other. For instance, husbands are commanded to be “assigning [the wife] honor as to a weaker vessel, the feminine one, . . . in order for [their] prayers not to be hindered. ” (1 Peter 3:7) If a husband does not give his wife honor, even his prayers to God will be adversely affected. What, though, is meant by honoring one’s wife? It means taking her into consideration at all times, listening to her opinions, giving her first choice in various matters much of the time.

And the wife can honor the husband in the same way, by working to be a cooperative helpmate. —Genesis 21:12; Proverbs 31:10-31. God’s Word says: “Husbands ought to be loving their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself, for no man ever hated his own flesh; but he feeds and cherishes it, as the Christ also does the congregation. ” How much love did Christ have for his followers? He was willing to die for them. The Bible also states: “Let each one of you [husbands] individually so love his wife as he does himself. ” (Ephesians 5:28-33) And God’s Word tells wives “to love their husbands, . . subjecting themselves to their own husbands, so that the word of God may not be spoken of abusively. “—Titus 2:4, 5. [pic][pic] |DIVORCE AND SEPARATION | |[pic] | |God, the Originator of marriage, designed it to be a permanent union. But is there any Scriptural | |reason for a person to divorce his or her mate—and one that would allow for the possibility of | |remarrying? Jesus addressed this matter by eclaring: “I say to you that whoever divorces his wife, | |except on the ground of fornication, and marries another commits adultery. ” (Matthew 19:9) Sexual | |infidelity by a mate is the only ground for a divorce that will allow the innocent mate to remarry. | |In addition, the Bible’s words at 1 Corinthians 7:10-16, while encouraging marriage mates to stay | |together, allow for separation. Some, after trying very hard to preserve their marriage, feel they | |have no choice but to separate. What can be acceptable Scriptural grounds for such a step? |One is willful nonsupport. When getting married, a husband assumes the responsibility of providing | |for his wife and children. The man who willfully fails to provide the material necessities of life | |”has disowned the faith and is worse than a person without faith. ” (1 Timothy 5:8) So separation is | |possible. | |Another is extreme physical abuse. So then, if a mate physically abuses his wife, the victim may | |separate. (Galatians 5:19-21; Titus 1:7) “Anyone loving violence [God’s] soul certainly | |hates. “—Psalm 11:5. |Another ground for separation is the absolute endangerment of a believer’s spirituality—one’s | |relationship with God. When a mate’s opposition, perhaps including physical restraint, has made it | |impossible to pursue true worship and has imperiled the believer’s spirituality, then some believers| |have found it necessary to separate. *—Matthew 22:37; Acts 5:27-32. | |However, if divorce is pursued under such circumstances, one would not be free to enter a new | |marriage. According to the Bible, the only legitimate ground for divorce that permits remarriage is | |adultery or “fornication. —Matthew 5:32. | | | |* See The Watchtower of November 1, 1988, pages 22-3, for a discussion of separation. | [pic][pic] [pic][pic] Jesus said that we should forgive “seventy-seven times” Allow for Mistakes Since all people are born imperfect, they will make mistakes. (Romans 3:23; 5:12; 1 John 1:8-10) But rather than magnifying mistakes, heed the Bible counsel: “Above all things, have intense love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. ” (1 Peter 4:8) Minor mistakes are best handled by putting them behind us, overlooking them. That can be true of more serious ones too.

Colossians 3:12-14 states: “Clothe yourselves with the tender affections of compassion, kindness, lowliness of mind, mildness, and long-suffering. Continue putting up with one another and forgiving one another freely if anyone has a cause for complaint against another. Even as Jehovah freely forgave you, so do you also. But, besides all these things, clothe yourselves with love, for it is a perfect bond of union. ” How often should we forgive the ordinary mistakes and flaws of our marriage mate? Peter asked Jesus: “‘Lord, how many times is my brother to sin against me and am I to forgive him?

Up to seven times? ‘ Jesus said to him: ‘I say to you, not, Up to seven times, but, Up to seventy-seven times. ‘” (Matthew 18:21, 22) Since Jesus was saying this about those outside the marriage bond, how much more is forgiveness needed between marriage partners! Although the institution of marriage has suffered attack in recent years, in the long run, marriage will survive because it was instituted by God and everything he ordains is “very good. ” (Genesis 1:31) It will not become outdated. And it can be successful, especially among those who respect and uphold God’s commandments.

But the challenge is: Will the two individuals hold true to the promise they made on the wedding day to love and to cherish each other? That can certainly be a challenge, and you may have to struggle to come off victorious. But the results will be worth the effort! [pic] |Why View Marriage |[pi|[| |as Sacred? |c] |p| |[pic] | |i| | | |c| | | |]| [|[pic] |[p|[pic] |[|[| |p| |ic| |p|p| |i| |] | |i|i| |c| | | |c|c| |]| | | |]|]| |[|Related topic: |  |MOST people today would likely claim that they believe in the sanctity of marriage. Why, | | | |p|When Marital Disagreements Arise | |then, do so many unions end in divorce?

For some, marriage is little more than a romantic | | | |i|The Bible Can Help Your Marriage | |promise and a legal agreement. But promises can be broken. People who view marriage this | | | |c| | |way find it quite easy to give up on their marriage when things go wrong. | | | |]| | |How does God view the marital arrangement? The answer is found in his Word, the Bible, at | | | | | | |Hebrews 13:4: “Let marriage be honorable among all. ” The Greek word translated “honorable” | | | | | | |carries the thought of something that is precious and highly esteemed.

When we value | | | | | | |something, we take care to preserve it and not to lose it, even accidentally. The same | | | | | | |should be true of the marriage arrangement. Christians are to view it as honorable—as | | | | | | |something precious that they want to protect. | | | | | | |Obviously, Jehovah God created marriage as a sacred arrangement between a husband and wife. | | | | | | |But how can we show that we share his view of marriage? | | | | | | |Love and Respect | | | | | |Honoring the marital arrangement requires that marriage mates honor each other. (Romans | | | | | | |12:10) The apostle Paul wrote to first-century Christians: “Let each one of you | | | | | | |individually so love his wife as he does himself; on the other hand, the wife should have | | | | | | |deep respect for her husband. “—Ephesians 5:33. | | | | | | |Granted, at times a spouse may not act in the most lovable or respectable manner. Still, | | | | | | |Christians must show such love and respect.

Paul wrote: “Continue putting up with one | | | | | | |another and forgiving one another freely if anyone has a cause for complaint against | | | | | | |another. Even as Jehovah freely forgave you, so do you also. “—Colossians 3:13. | | | | | | |Time and Attention | | | | | | |Married couples who view their union as sacred take time to fulfill each other’s physical | | | | | | |and emotional needs. This includes sexual intimacy.

The Bible says: “Let the husband render| | | | | | |to his wife her due; but let the wife also do likewise to her husband. “—1 Corinthians 7:3. | | | | | | |However, some married couples have felt the need for the husband to move away temporarily | | | | | | |in order to earn more income. At times, the separation has become unexpectedly prolonged. | | | | | | |Often, such separations have put a strain on the marriage, sometimes leading to adultery | | | | | | |and divorce. 1 Corinthians 7:2, 5) For that reason, many Christian couples have decided to| | | | | | |forgo material advantages rather than put at risk the marriage they hold sacred. | | | | | | |When Problems Arise | | | | | | |When difficulties arise, Christians who honor their marriage do not hastily separate or | | | | | | |divorce. (Malachi 2:16; 1 Corinthians 7:10, 11) Jesus stated: “Everyone divorcing his wife,| | | | | | |except on account of fornication, makes her a subject for adultery, and whoever marries a | | | | | | |divorced woman commits adultery. (Matthew 5:32) Opting for divorce or separation when a | | | | | | |couple has no Scriptural grounds dishonors marriage. | | | | | | |Our view of marriage is also shown by the advice we offer to those with serious marital | | | | | | |problems. Are we quick to recommend separation or divorce? True, there may be times when | | | | | | |valid grounds for a separation exist, such as when there is extreme physical abuse or | | | | | | |willful nonsupport. * Also, as noted above, the Bible allows for divorce only when one’s | | | | | | |mate is guilty of fornication.

Still, Christians should not unduly influence the decision | | | | | | |of others in such situations. After all, it is the person with the marital problem—not the | | | | | | |one giving the advice—who will live with the consequences of the decision. —Galatians 6:5, | | | | | | |7. | | | | | | |Avoid a Casual View | | | | | | |In some areas it has become common for people to use marriage to gain legal residency in | | | | | | |another country.

Usually such individuals make an agreement to pay a citizen of that | | | | | | |country to marry them. Often these couples, although married, remain separate, perhaps not | | | | | | |even maintaining a friendly relationship. Soon after obtaining the desired legal residency,| | | | | | |they divorce. They view their marriage strictly as a business agreement. | | | | | | |The Bible does not endorse such a casual view. Regardless of their motives, people who | | | | | | |marry enter into a sacred arrangement that God considers binding.

The parties of such | | | | | | |agreements remain bound as husband and wife, and the Bible requirements for a valid divorce| | | | | | |with the possibility of marrying someone else apply. —Matthew 19:5, 6, 9. | | | | | | |As is true of any worthwhile endeavor, a good marriage requires effort and perseverance. | | | | | | |Those who fail to appreciate its sacredness give up more easily. Or they may resign | | | | | | |themselves to living in an unhappy marriage. On the other hand, those who acknowledge the | | | | | | |sacredness of marriage know that God expects them to stay together. Genesis 2:24) They | | | | | | |also realize that by making their marriage work harmoniously, they honor him as the | | | | | | |Designer of the marital arrangement. (1 Corinthians 10:31) Having this viewpoint gives them| | | | | | |the motivation to persevere and work at making a success of their marriage. | | | KEYS TO FAMILY HAPPINESS Surviving the First Year of Marriage He says: ”I am surprised to find that my wife and I are so different! For example, I like to get up early, but she likes to stay up late. As for her changes of mood, those baffle me! And another thing-when I cook, she becomes so critical, especially of the way I clean my hands on the dishcloth. “ She says: ”My husband is a man of few words. But I’m used to my family.

They talk a lot, particularly at mealtimes. And when my husband cooks, he uses the same cloth to dry the dishes and to clean his hands! That irritates me! Why are men so difficult to understand? How do people make a marriage succeed? “ IF YOU are newly married, have you faced similar challenges? Does it seem that your mate suddenly has acquired faults and foibles that were absent when you were dating? How can you reduce the impact of the “everyday troubles that married people will have”? —1 Corinthians 7:28, Today’s English Version. First, do not expect that just because you exchanged wedding vows, you and your spouse become instant experts at married life.

You might have acquired valuable social skills when you were single, and they might have improved while you were dating. However, marriage will test those skills in new ways and will likely require that you gain new ones. Will you make mistakes? Certainly. Can you gain the skills you need? Absolutely! The best way to improve any skill is to consult an expert on the subject and then to apply the advice he gives. The foremost expert on marriage is Jehovah God. After all, he is the One who created us with the desire to marry. (Genesis 2:22-24) Note how his Word, the Bible, can help you overcome challenges and acquire the skills you need to make your marriage last beyond the first year. SKILL 1. LEARN TO CONSULT TOGETHER What are the challenges?

Keiji,* a husband who lives in Japan, sometimes forgot that his decisions affected his spouse. “I would accept invitations without consulting my wife,” he says. “Later, I would discover that it was not convenient for her to keep those appointments. ” Allen, a husband in Australia, says: “I felt that it was unmanly to consult my wife about things. ” He faced a challenge because of his background. It was similar with Dianne, who lives in Britain. She says: “I was used to asking my family for advice. So at first I would consult them and not my husband when making decisions. ” ASK YOURSELF . . . • Have I made my spouse my closest confidant, or do I prefer to consult with others? Within the last 24 hours, specifically what have I done that shows that I love and respect my spouse? What is the solution? Remember that Jehovah God views a married couple as being “one flesh. ” (Matthew 19:3-6) In his eyes, no other human relationship is more important than the one that exists between husband and wife! To keep that bond strong, good communication is vital. A husband and wife can learn much by examining the way Jehovah God communicated with Abraham. For example, please read the discussion recorded at Genesis 18:17-33. Note that God honored Abraham in three ways. (1) Jehovah explained what he intended to do. (2) He listened while Abraham explained his views. 3) To the extent possible, Jehovah adapted his course of action to accommodate Abraham. How could you follow the same pattern when you consult with your spouse? TRY THIS: When discussing matters that will affect your marriage partner, (1) explain how you would like to handle the situation, but present your thoughts as suggestions, not final decisions or ultimatums; (2) ask your spouse to express his or her opinion, and acknowledge your spouse’s right to hold a different viewpoint; and (3) “let your reasonableness become known” by adopting your mate’s preferences whenever possible. —Philippians 4:5. SKILL 2. LEARN TO BE TACTFUL What is the challenge?

Depending on your family or cultural background, you might be in the habit of expressing your opinion firmly, even bluntly. For example, Liam, who lives in Europe, says: “Where I come from, people tend to be tactless. My blunt way of expressing myself often upset my wife. I had to learn to be more gentle. ” What is the solution? Do not assume that your mate wants to be spoken to in the same manner that you are used to. (Philippians 2:3, 4) The counsel that the apostle Paul gave a missionary is also helpful for newlyweds. He wrote: “A slave of the Lord does not need to fight, but needs to be gentle. ” In the original Greek, the word that is translated “gentle” can also be rendered “tactful. (2 Timothy 2:24; footnote) Tact is the ability to discern the delicacy of a situation and to deal with the matter kindly, without causing offense. TRY THIS: When you are annoyed with your mate, imagine that instead of talking to your spouse, you are conversing with a good friend or with your employer. Would you still use the same tone of voice or choice of words? Then think of reasons why your spouse deserves to be spoken to with even more respect and tact than does your friend or employer. —Colossians 4:6. The Bible Saved Our Marriage Toru and Akiko were in love when they were first married. But only eight months later, this Japanese couple decided to divorce. They relate what happened.

Toru: “I discovered that my wife and I were less compatible than I thought. For example, when we watched TV, I liked sports, but she liked dramas. I liked going out, but she liked staying home. ” [pic] Akiko: “Toru did whatever his family asked, but he did not consult with me. I asked him, ‘Who is more important to you, your mother or me? ’ Also, I was shocked at how Toru would stretch the truth. I told him that one lie leads to another and that if he didn’t stop, our marriage could not continue. ” Toru: “I became frustrated and asked a senior colleague for advice on how to deal with my wife. ‘Just tell her to shut up,’ he said. ‘If she complains, knock her down. One time, I slapped Akiko’s face and turned over the table. There was a big fight, and she left. I had to bring her back from a hotel in Tokyo. Finally, we decided to divorce. As I left home for the office that morning, my wife began packing her things. ” Akiko: “The doorbell rang as I was carrying my bags to the front door. A woman was standing there. She was one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. I invited her in. ” Toru: “When I arrived at my office, I was having second thoughts about divorce, so I hurried back home. When I arrived, I found Akiko talking to this lady. The lady said to me: ‘You need something that the two of you can do together. Would you like to study the Bible? ‘Yes,’ I said, ‘anything that might save our marriage! ’” Akiko: “The lady made arrangements for us to study the Bible. A turning point came when we read the Bible’s description of the marriage arrangement. It says: ‘That is why a man will leave his father and his mother and he must stick to his wife and they must become one flesh. ’”—Genesis 2:24. Toru: “I got the point right away. I told my parents, ‘From now on, I am going to discuss things with my wife before making decisions. ’ I also stopped drinking too much. And when I learned that God hates lies, I tried to speak only the truth. ” Akiko: “I too changed. For example, I used to defy Toru.

But when I saw how he was applying Bible principles, I became more supportive of him. (Ephesians 5:22-24) We have been happily married now for over 28 years. We were able to overcome our problems by getting to know each other better and by applying the wise counsel found in the Bible. ” [pic] SKILL 3. LEARN TO ADAPT TO YOUR NEW ROLES What is the challenge? A husband may at first exercise his headship clumsily, or a wife may be unaccustomed to making tactful suggestions. For example, Antonio, a husband in Italy, says: “My father hardly ever consulted my mother about family decisions. So at first, I ruled my family as if I were a monarch. ” Debbie, a wife in Canada, says: “I demanded that my husband be tidier.

But my bossy approach only seemed to make him more stubborn. ” What is the solution for a husband? Some husbands confuse what the Bible says about wifely subjection with what it says about the obedience of a child to his parent. (Colossians 3:20; 1 Peter 3:1) However, the Bible says that a husband is to “stick to his wife, and the two will be one flesh”; it does not say the same about a parent and a child. (Matthew 19:5) Jehovah describes a wife as a complement, or counterpart, of her husband. (Genesis 2:18) He never refers to a child as being a complement, or counterpart, of a parent. What do you think—if a husband treats his wife like a child, is he honoring the marriage arrangement?

In fact, God’s Word urges you to treat your wife in the same manner that Jesus treats the Christian congregation. You can make it easier for your wife to view you as her head if (1) you do not expect her immediately and flawlessly to express her subjection to you and (2) you love her as you do your own body, even when difficulties arise. —Ephesians 5:25-29. What is the solution for a wife? Acknowledge that your husband is now your God-appointed head. (1 Corinthians 11:3) If you honor your husband, you honor God. If you reject his headship, you reveal how you feel not only about your husband but also about God and his requirements. —Colossians 3:18.

When discussing challenging issues, learn to attack the problem—not your husband’s character. Queen Esther, for example, wanted her husband, King Ahasuerus, to correct an injustice. Rather than attack him personally, she expressed herself tactfully. Her husband accepted her suggestion and eventually did the right thing. (Esther 7:1-4; 8:3-8) Your husband is more likely to learn to love you deeply if (1) you allow him time to master his new role as head of a family and (2) you treat him with respect, even when he makes mistakes. —Ephesians 5:33. TRY THIS: Rather than taking note of ways in which you feel your spouse ought to change, keep a changes-I-need-to-make list. Husbands: When you upset your wife by the way ou exercise or fail to exercise your headship, ask her how you can improve, and then write the suggestion down. Wives: When your husband feels that he is not being shown respect, ask him how you can improve, and take note of the suggestion. [pic] Maintain Reasonable Expectations Learning to maintain a happy, balanced marriage relationship is like learning to ride a bicycle. You expect some tumbles as you gain confidence as a cyclist. Likewise, you should expect to make some embarrassing mistakes as you gain experience in marriage. Maintain a sense of humor. Take your mate’s concerns seriously, but learn to laugh at your own blunders. Seize opportunities to make your mate rejoice during your first year of marriage. Deuteronomy 24:5) Above all, allow God’s Word to guide your relationship. If you do, your marriage will grow stronger year after year. Man and Woman Made for Each Other MAN and woman have always yearned to be together. This originated with God. Jehovah saw that it was not good for the first man, Adam, to continue by himself. So God made “a helper for [the man], as a complement of him. ” Jehovah caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and then he took one of his ribs and “proceeded to build the rib . . . into a woman and to bring her to the man. ” Adam was so thrilled upon meeting this beautiful creation of Jehovah that he declared: “This is at last bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. With her feminine qualities, the perfect woman, Eve, was indeed lovable. And perfect Adam in his masculine dignity deserved respect. They were made for each other. The Bible says: “That is why a man will leave his father and his mother and he must stick to his wife and they must become one flesh. ”—Genesis 2:18-24. Today, however, families are breaking apart, and the relationship between man and woman is often abusive or governed by selfishness. A spirit of competition between the sexes has contributed to conflict and discord. All of this is contrary to God’s purpose for man and woman. Man was designed to fill a wonderful role on earth. Woman was to

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