Marriage Problems: Solved
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Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. . . . Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her. . . . Let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband (Eph. 5:22, 25, 33).
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There are few experiences in life as emotionally devastating as a failed marriage. A couple ties the knot, looking forward to spending the rest of their lives in wedded bliss. But somewhere along the way, little issues turn into major conflicts; disagreements turn into epic battles; kids, friends, and neighbors are exposed to embarrassing displays of anger. The end result is almost always divorce--or worse--with ripple effects that extend far out into society. How can a couple avoid this destructive path in their marriage?
Paul offers the formula: In short, both parties must honor their gender-specific roles.
For her part, a wife must learn how to respect her husband by submitting to his leadership. God has placed on his shoulders the responsibility of providing for and protecting his family. He has to make tough decisions in their interest. Those decisions will be much easier to implement if his wife is supporting him, rather than undermining his efforts behind his back, or nagging him for his imperfections. Her job is to help him be successful; and in his success, she will find her success--but only if she is his Number One cheerleader.
Paul's instructions to wives should not be interpreted by husbands to mean, "I'm the boss and you have to do what I say." Husbands who take that approach to male leadership deserve the trouble they reap, which introduces Paul's second point: a husband must learn how to love his wife by sacrificing himself for her needs. That involves much more than just bringing home a paycheck. A husband who loves his wife will generously give up his time, his hobbies, his opinions, and even his ambitions to accommodate his wife's physical and emotional needs. Just as Christ sacrificed everything, even to the point of giving up His life, for the one He loved, so must a husband go out of his way to make his wife feel appreciated.
There is one more essential ingredient expressed by Jesus: "Whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses" (Mk. 11:25). No husband or wife will ever fulfill their role perfectly. Mistakes will be made and lines will be crossed that will inflict pain. Ideally, the guilty party will recognize their error and try to correct it. But whether or not they repent, the greater need is for unconditional forgiveness from the offended spouse. A husband and wife who are quick to forgive and forget each other's failings will be far more likely to find peace and happiness in their relationship.
Marriage problems are inevitable, but they need not destroy the marriage--if both spouses will humble themselves to God's pattern for making it work.