The Sanctity of Marriage

In Jesus view, the ideal marriage was one in which two souls become consecrated to one another for life. To underscore His point, He cited the passage in Genesis which states, "For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh."
“What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” (Mark 10: 2-16)

The greatest gift that parents can give their children is to love one another. But in first century Palestine the bonds of matrimony were easily broken. In that patriarchal culture, in which women had few rights, a man could divorce his wife, but a wife could not divorce her husband. According to the Torah, the principal grounds for divorce were infertility, infidelity and material or emotional neglect.

But over time, some Jewish scholars had interpreted the scriptures liberally to include an ever-expanding list of “legitimate” reasons for divorce. By Christ’s time, one school of thought said that a man could divorce his wife for any reason, even something as trivial as burning his evening meal. Another school of thought said that adultery was the only valid reason for divorce.

The Pharisees may have been trying to draw Jesus into this debate when they asked His opinion of divorce. But Christ surprised them by saying, “what God has joined together, let not man put asunder.”

In Jesus view, the ideal marriage was one in which two souls become consecrated to one another for life. To underscore His point, He cited the passage in Genesis which states, "For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh." Having said that, Jesus beckoned the nearby children to Him and blessed them. What do you suppose He might say about the state of matrimony today when one in three marriages end in divorce?

Of course, every marriage hits some rough spots such as the loss of a job, illness and unexpected debts that can put a strain on the relationship. But those problems can actually draw a couple together instead of driving them apart. A crisis won’t lead to divorce unless there are more deep-seated issues that have not been addressed by the couple. Knowing what those issues are can help head off a marriage crisis and spare your children the trauma of divorce.

Early Warning Signs of Marriage Problems

  • Demeaning nicknames: During courtship, couples often develop nicknames that are terms of endearment for one another. If, after marriage, one or both partners use belittling nicknames, even in jest, it has a corrosive effect on the relationship. Start referring to one another the way you did before marriage.
  • Nagging and criticizing: Most families now rely on two incomes, which means that household chores must be shared equally by both spouses. Nagging and criticizing about menial tasks may be a sign that one spouse doesn’t appreciate just how much effort it takes to run a home. In seeking cooperation, draw up a list of household chores and an estimate of how much time each one takes. Then divide the tasks. Equally.
  • Lack of communication: Today’s families are constantly on the go, which leaves little room for real discussion. Try to set aside a specific time each day for just the two of you to talk. Don’t expect your loved one to read your mind and know what you want out of the relationship. Tell him or her, then listen to what your partner has to say. Both of you should have equal time to say what’s on your mind. Ask open-ended questions to draw your spouse out. To listen is to love.
  • Arguing over children: Children will try to play one parent against the other (especially in second marriages). The key is to never differ over disciples in front of the children,
  • Financial infidelity: If one spouse is a “shopaholic” or has a secret bank account, it’s time to draw up a working household budget and decide who handles the checking account and credit cards. Many a marriage has failed for financial reasons.
  • Lack of romance: After a hard day’s work, it is not uncommon for spouses to zone out on the couch, watching TV, ignoring one another and occasionally yelling at the kids to keep quiet. To keep the spark of love alive, arrange for baby sitting once or twice a month so you can go out on an inexpensive, but romantic date.
  • Lack of intimacy: Avoid the temptation to withhold sex as a way of “getting even,” and never go to bed angry. While a loss of interest in sex may signal marriage problems, even infidelity, it might simply indicate the need for more cuddling and foreplay. It might even be a sign of an undisclosed illness. An appointment with a physician may be in order.
  • Different outside interests: In every successful marriage both spouses continue to grow. But, when personal development leads to different outside interests, the couple can gradually grow apart. Look for shared interests.

If any of these warning signs are present, be sure to act. First of all, pray for your marriage. As Father Peyton said years ago, “The family that prays together stays together.” Secondly, seek professional counseling.

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