Due to the amplifying (or exacerbating) effects of marriage, it's utterly important that you attempt to understand what's at play and what you're working with before you get married. Here are a handful of questions that I think everyone should find answers to before they enter into the lifelong marital commitment.
Judeo-Christian circles occasionally have some odd traditions and sentiments. Countless times, I've heard parents pray for their daughters to become women "like Ruth and Esther," two terrific protagonists in the Bible. It's such a popular sentiment that it even crept its way into 1970s show tunes via Fidler on the Roof. But it's weird. I wouldn't wish that on anyone, especially my own daughter.
Husbands and wives generally don't appreciate unsolicited marriage advice. Even when facing high-risk situations, most people don't want someone else telling them what to do — they just want affirmation. But sometimes affirmation isn't healthy, just, nor deserved. Sometimes people need to be held accountable and asked to change. Sometimes unrelenting truth is the most merciful thing one can offer. And that's a bitter pill to swallow.
We make idols of our own plans when we trust in them to provide our sense of identity, purpose, success, and happiness. By seeking to assert our own desires over God's will, we prioritize ourselves before God. Worse, we often mistakenly assume that God's will is aligned with our own. In so doing, we attempt to make God in our own image, instead of conforming ourselves into the image of God.
In the New Testament (and, curiously, not really anywhere in the Old Testament), there are a few letters that seem to suggest that wives should be universally obedient to their husbands. Among the patriarchal obedience advocates, no epistle is more popular than 1 Peter. But what did Peter actually write?
Everything God desires from us is revealed by the life-giving relationship between a husband and wife, as first seen in the Garden of Eden. The structures of the Tabernacle, the cycle of the Feasts, and even the biology of human reproduction are all wrapped up together to reveal Yahweh's plan for our relationship with Him.
I've talked to many couples facing seemingly doomed marriages. More often than not, the root cause isn't infidelity or addictions or crimes. Usually, the heart of a maritally disengaged spouse is summed up in a single statement: "I don't love my wife/husband anymore." It's tragic and heartbreaking. Mostly because it's based on a lie.
Your wedding is literally only a few hours. It will come and go in a stressful blur. Weddings are irrational fantasies — people gussied up beyond their means, pretending to know how to waltz, eating cake they can't afford, wearing other people's tuxedos, and holding fake flowers. And, once the limo pulls away, you'll be left picking rice out of your hair and with a very real marriage.
Marriages end with all sorts of excuses. The reality though is that marriages only end for ten reasons. If you've already read The Marriage Commandments, you know what those reasons are. You know the 10 principles you have to keep to keep your marriage strong. But most don't know. So, based somewhat on those 10 principles, here is a quick rundown of 10 ways you might be ruining your marriage.
Instead of drawing close to our nine friends and excluding everyone else, we should pour out our lives for those who will be reconciled to God — especially when they may not share our beliefs. If we are truly the Body of Christ, we have to be willing to endure pain, discomfort, and disappointments. Self-preservation, whether it be of body, reputation, or ideas, should never be a deciding factor. As the Church, we must lay down our lives.
Throughout the Bible, we can see God's purposeful inclusion of women. When we are inclusive of women, we're acting in the character of God. At many of Scripture's most pivotal moments, and at many of the first expressions of our theology, God granted women the honor of being the forerunners and standard-bearers. Moreover, we often see God granting revelation to women first.
There are many third rails in Church traditions. Among the most hotly contested over the last 2,000+ years pertains to what women should (or most often, should not) do within the Church. The feelings run so strong that the functions of women within churches often becomes the single most defining issue in many congregations.
To the husband with the awesome career who feels that his lone — albeit vast — financial contributions go unappreciated, you are not doing anything for your wife. To the housewife who is upset because her exhausting childrearing efforts are never acknowledged, you are not doing that for your husband. Stop trying to get credit and praise from your spouse for sacrifices that you are not making for your spouse. Before you get mad, hear me out...