Is Marriage Failing?

Has the institution of marriage let us down? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Readers of the blog know that for all intents and purposes, I am still a Newlywed and this has been a major learning experience. I often look forward to my male friends who are single getting married themselves so they know the joy of it, but at the same time want to prepare them for realities. Marriage is awesome, but it is also something that requires work.

My wife and I are both diagnosed with Asperger’s. This makes our marriage even more interesting. Something we discovered early on was that while there are many ways we have to say “I love you,” some are unique to us. Her cooking me something is such a way and wanting to buy me something is a way. For me, I am all about knowledge and one way I have done so is by ordering books on marriage and reading about being a good husband.

I also listen to podcasts. One I’ve found quite enjoyable is Marriage Today with Jimmy and Karen Evans. (Link below) I think the advice given is often quite good and my wife and I have started the pattern of listening to an episode together and then discussing it. We listened today to one on God’s indestructible plan for marriage. After that, we discussed what the subject was, how women need to feel loved and secure and how men need to feel respected and honored.

We then talked about ways we do this for each other and then talked about ways we don’t do this for the other and how we’d like to see change. We also set up a rule that we want it to be that when she does not feel loved by something I do, she can tell me without fear of criticism or defensiveness, and when I don’t feel respected by something she does, she can tell me without fear of criticism or defensiveness. It doesn’t mean that the person speaking is right, but they do have a right to speak. I really think this would be a great rule for many marriages to follow.

However, there was one point I disagreed with on the show and that was when Jimmy Evans said that the institution of marriage was failing as more and more people were unmarried than ever before and divorce was becoming more prevalent. Some of you could be wondering “With unwed mothers, homosexuality on the rise, and cohabitation without marriage rising, how could you say the institution of marriage is not failing?” Some of you I hope have caught the distinction, and it is one my wife caught immediately when someone gave her the same kind of statement.

The institution of marriage does not fail. People fail the institution of marriage.

You see, the system works great. It’s God’s idea. It’s just the people that are in the system are often problematic. Why is this? One reason that comes to my mind immediately is how self-centered each of us is. We are all constantly looking out for #1.

Sure. The husband is more than willing to help with taking out the trash, but there’d better be sex in it for him or else he’s going to be upset. Meanwhile, of course the wife is willing to have sex with her husband, but he’d sure better be sure to paint the kid’s bedroom!

This can sadly happen and in each case, each person is looking out for #1 and not seeing the joy in helping their spouse just for helping them. Okay men. You’ve spent all day cleaning up the house to surprise your Mrs. and then think “I bet she’ll want to show me how much she appreciates this!” Let’s suppose that wasn’t on your mind really when you started, but now it is and of course, it’s all you can think about it.

Question. If she does not give you a really good time tonight, are you going to feel hurt?

Let’s hope the answer is no. She is not under obligation after all. There is nothing that says that if you do X, she must have sex with you. Keep in mind however men, that women will say you are never more attractive to them than you are when you’re doing housework. (On a forum I belong to, there was a thread once called “Female porn” that consisted of pictures of men fully clothed doing housework.)

If she does, well you can certainly enjoy that! If she doesn’t, what do you enjoy? You enjoy that you got to show love to your wife and please her. Perhaps if she is not interested, she has her own reasons and it might just be that it does not mean anything whatsoever about her lack of desire for you. Instead, just let it be. It’s not much of a gift of grace to her if you give of yourself only so you can get something in return. Keep in mind we are to love our wives as Christ loved the church, which means sacrifice.

Now as to the women, so you spend all the time prettying yourself up waiting for your husband to get home from work. You’ve had a nice and long shower, put on his favorite perfume and the nicest make-up, fixed his favorite dinner, and you have those rose petals on the bed while you’re wearing a very revealing outfit all for him and have that romantic evening all planned with some nice romantic music. When he comes home, he is pleased and the night goes exactly as you wanted.

And now you go to sleep that night and think “I’ve shown my husband a great time. I hope he’ll paint the kid’s bedroom tomorrow.”

What if he doesn’t? What if the guy is still a bonehead who has not caught on as to how much this means to you? Do you get angry? “I did all this for him and he doesn’t do this for me?!” (oh how tempting it can be for us!) Or, do you delight that you showed your husband love? Note however I think this wife is on the right track. Women. You find men doing the housework attractive, but it is certain that if you nag your husbands, they will find that unattractive and will NOT want to meet your request. In fact, the way to get your husband to have more interest in your desires is to have more interest in his. One of the best things you can do in this case is to seduce your husband.

Marriage is the best way to draw you out of yourself and start you focusing on another. As you live with the other person, you have to learn how to change. You can no longer think about just what you want. Perhaps I want to spend some time in study and my wife wants to watch a movie. Am I willing sometimes to forgo that for the joy of my family, or will my wife always be second to academia? (For those concerned, we do often watch movies together at home).

Perhaps the Mrs. has been busy preparing herself to head out the door, but her husband sees her getting ready and suddenly has other things on his mind. Okay. Maybe you are too busy at this point, but does that mean you have to give a flat no? How about something like “I’d really love to right now, but I have to get to work, but I will be thinking about you all day today and if you have things ready when I get home, I will also be ready.” Be assured of this women. You will be on his mind ALL DAY!

No. You can’t do everything every time, but what would happen if in marriage each person put the needs and desires of the other above themselves? Why most of each person’s needs and desires would be met. What do we do when we seek to look out for #1? We seek to meet our needs and desires. A major difference with the first way is that in this case, we not only get them met, but we also grow in holiness and character as we reach beyond ourselves into the other.

Someone I worked with once asked me what the best way to learn forgiveness was. I answered to get married. In marriage, you spend a lot of time being forgiven and giving forgiveness because all your faults are displayed there for the other person to see and there’s nowhere to hide.

For we men, we have to learn to love with grace. We are to love our wives as Christ loved the church, a tall order that should fill us with terror when we see how badly we are failing obviously. The women are to love as the church loves Christ. Some women might be saying “Well that’s a relief because the church doesn’t do that one well!” It would be a mistake to think that way. The church is the body of Christ and the church is to love Christ as if they were loving themselves. How many of us are good at doing that with the other?

It’s not a surprise to me then that so many people try to take the easy way out to avoid this, but the easy way will seldom produce exemplary results. “Marriage is just a ritual” The problem is with the word ‘just’. The ceremony is certainly a ritual in a sense, but it is much more than that. The wedding day is a day that will change your life forever.

Ah. Such a risky manuever! Let us go without risks! We will try each other out first! We will see how we do and if we think we are doing well, well then we might consider marriage.

Do you like being tested? Now some of us are rare exceptions in that when test time came at school for me, I was thrilled. I thoroughly enjoyed a good test. That is because I knew the subject and could pass it and thus, that meant that I had an easy class.

What if the test was never-ending? What if the test was every day? What if you were tested on every comment, every action, and every fiber of you being? Would that be a good test? What if it was not your knowledge that was being tested, but rather you that were being tested?

What if this test determined whether this person would love or respect you and your entire future happiness could depend on this?

Are you able to be free? No. You must walk on pins and needles. Your time in the bedroom cannot be as passionate if you know that you must please this other person. You cannot seriously think about having children if you know that this other person might not be around to help raise them. How can you plan to buy that house if you could be left with a mortgage when the other person abandons you?

For a married couple, they are to stay together no matter what. Whatever happens, one makes the best of it and loves and/or respects anyway. For the couple that is living together, it is but a sham.

“Okay,” I have heard several single guys ask me. “What’s the big deal? If I’m in love with this woman, I want to have sex with her. Why should I wait?”

You know what. That’s a good question. Why should you wait? Another good one is “Why shouldn’t you?”

For single men who are willing to take this risk, you are playing a very very dangerous game. I was relieved when one friend I have who started dating already told me they were making sure that if their relationship went well, there would be no sex until marriage and that that goes without saying.

For too many guys, even Christian guys I know, it sadly does not go without saying.

The dangerous game is that this is something dynamite that will forever change the fabric of your relationship. In ancient times, most marriages were arranged at birth. Today, many still are. How did that work? The two people who never knew each other come together after the wedding for the first time. This was usually where something like a bloodied sheet would be shown so all could celebrate the marriage being consummated.

That act was what it took to begin forming the bond. Were it not that the future of the human race is built upon having children and that sex is something designed to be very pleasurable, I suspect most men would never get married. However, it is that drive for the female that makes us want to be with her and the act of sex increases that desire all the more. Don’t think it can happen and the fabric of your relationship not change. It most certainly will.

Marriage creates the perfect bond for that. This is why Paul even told men and women to only abstain if they agreed beforehand and to come quickly together lest the devil use their lack of self-control. Obvious reason even for Christian couples? Both will want more and it will quickly become something highly important in the marriage.

Marriage helps to stabilize this drive. The man knows he must work to please the woman and provide for her as she meets his need for respect. The woman knows that she must be gracious and loving so that her husband will be able to meet her need for love and security. Sexual intercourse will also be a great security for her as it will be a great affirmation of respect for him.

Why wait? Because you want to save that for the person you’ve committed your whole life to. “Well I already know she’s the one!” Okay. If you’re so sure, you should be willing to wait. Is she not worth waiting for? You can rest assured, there will be times in marriage when you have to wait. You might as well learn now.

Thus, if she is the one, wait and you will have her eventually. If she is not the one, then you can be sure you are saving yourself for the right one.

But it could just be our drive for our personal pleasure is greater than our drive for personal holiness.

And maybe that’s what the problem is at root. We are lovers of self rather than lovers of God. If you are in a marriage and you do not love your spouse, do not give me this nonsense then that you love God. Now sadly, if in the case of a situation like abuse, it could be you have to separate, but I’d also be praying for your spouse to be convicted and repent and return to holiness. Most of us are not in these situations and how can we be lovers of God and not lovers of our spouses? John told us we cannot say we love God if we do not love man who is in His image.

Let us then reach beyond ourselves and love God and love our spouses, for the glory of God, and show the world the institution of marriage is not failing.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Info on Marriage Today can be found here

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4 Responses to “Is Marriage Failing?”

  1. Draw2much Says:

    Interesting. I didn’t know anyone was going around saying marriage has failed. People seem to forget that marriages still succeed, and they succeed well. I guess it’s just easier to focus on the doom and gloom rather than lifting up the examples of healthy marriages. And that’s a shame, because when marriages fail, the unfortunate kids left over could REALLY use examples of solid marriages.

    This May (’12) I’ll have been married for 9 years. My marriage has never been smooth, though I won’t say it’s been rocky. Lots of pouting and grumbling, mostly. Love didn’t get us through the emotional tantrums and hurt feelings, it was a strong sense of loyalty and honor. It was knowing the right thing to do was stay married, even when we didn’t like each other. We had an understanding from the beginning that marriage wasn’t about a piece of government paper, but a vow made before a mighty and terrible God. (I always take my promises seriously, and making a promise before God and all your family and friends is something you don’t back out on in a hurry.)

    The problem in our culture is we don’t know what love, or loving, really is. We think it’s a feeling, an emotional high, that will last forever if it’s the “real deal”. We think it’s sexual compatibility, and that if the sex is good nothing else really matters. We think it’s about the other person making us happy, and as long as we’re happy everything is ok. Of course, all these definitions are lies. Really shallow, self serving, short sighted, lies. And when you base a long term relationship like marriage on lies, of course it’ll fall apart.

    Real love is about action. It’s a doing, not a physical feeling. Love is–in action–selfless, forgiving, loyal, compassionate, merciful, and cheerful. You don’t stop doing these things because the high goes away, or the sexual tension diminishes, or the other person is making you unhappy. You do them all the time, because they’re a part of how you are normally, not just a show you put on for a “significant other”. A marriage based on real love will last, and it will strengthen others as it grows.

    The only vaguely true thing our culture has managed to latch onto about love it doesn’t really understand or appreciate: Real love lasts forever, brings out the best of people, and can push a person to awe inspiring heights. It’s true, real love does do all those things, and a lot of other awesome things too. It’s just that real love isn’t easy because we’re flawed, we have to work for it. And for real love to be “forever” you have to work REALLY HARD.

    Of course I do love my husband in the cultural sense. He’s also my friend. But that’s not what I base my marriage on, it’s just what got us interested in each other at the beginning. 😉

    I often wonder; if the average person has such a weak understanding of love in something as important as marriage, what must their understanding of God’s love be like? Even the average Christian (because Christians get divorced regularly too!) must have a pretty fundementally flawed view of how God loves them.

  2. Peter Says:

    Greetings,

    I am not at all surprised about the pro-marriage pitch that has been provided above. Afterall, humans don’t grow on trees, they need the active support of both a father and a mother.

    They say that if a lie is repeatedly told, it becomes fact. The same can stated here of the lie that is marriage. The fact is that God created the sham of marriage to make both men and women know and experience just how inferior they are all born into this world – through they biologiccal desire to bond and then breed.

    Has it ever occurred to you or others, as to why only those humans are actively engaged with the rest of society, lending their time and effort to a cause, are viewed with such high regard, in comparison to those that value themselves? Why is it that humans view the very word of “individuality” as some kind of dirty word?

    The human mind has been poisoned by mainstream society, forcing people to conform to traditional and collective notions about how they should interact with others, forming strong ties where and when possible, for the betterment of their fellow humans.

    The entire purpose of human existence is to discover the self. To put the mind and body to further the aims and objectives of the individual in an unpredictable world environment, where humans compete for survival.

    God has wierd humans to act and think a certain way. However, those whose minds are strong enough to see the truth, they are able to recognize that what they have been fed since the cradle, were nothing but lies and deceit, in order to force them to feel bad about themselves, about their abilities.

    Marriage is a curse. It forces both men and women to humiliate themselves in the eyes of others and themselves. I mean, how in the hell can any decent self-respecting person allow their bodies to be invaded by a foreign organism, thus corrupting their biology? Such a repugnant act is too filthy to imagine for the brahmachari (celibate).

    “I suspect most men would never get married. However, it is that drive for the female that makes us want to be with her and the act of sex increases that desire all the more.”

    The above quote did not, does not, and will never apply to me. I was born a brahmachari, I will end my life as a brahmachari also.

    You weak humans are all the same. Eat, sleep, work, play, socialize, flirt, laugh, hug, copulate, procreate, retire, die. Your lives have no meaning. You are all copies of one another, going about your daily lives without even stopping to think for a few moments as to what meaning your lives have?

    Thankfully, I have discovered my purpose and goal in my life: to discover and then live life according to Universal Logic. You people can continue to pair-up, copulate, catch STDs, breed, etc. etc, etc…

    I am unique. There is none like me. I am the master of my destiny. I am only one!

    Marriage is failing. Marriage will fail. As time grows old, so too shall the social traditions of the past and present disappear forever. Slowly, but sure enough, humanity will become consumed by its own degradations, leading to its ultimate downfall.

    End.

  3. apologianick Says:

    Thanks for the sermon. I noticed you made some claims about God in there. Can you tell me which God you’re talking about and how you know this?

    Also, yes. I do despise individualism since our greatest good is found in how we relate to one another based on what God has done for us. Marriage is a great picture of that and the backbone of civilization.

    • Peter Says:

      Hi,

      Thank you for the reply, and for the compliment.

      There is only one Supreme Intelligence that has (since the time of Adam), made “It’s” presence known to humankind, through thousands upon thousands of Messengers, sent to warn their respective peoples, in their native-tongues.

      This Supreme Being goes by many different names: Ahuramazda, Brahman, Tian, Shangdi, Yahweh, Jehovah, Allah or The Puppet Master.

      It comes as no surprise that you despise individualism, as you have chosen to willfully cede your sovereignty (body) to a foreigner (human), in the act of copulation.

      You have decided to submit yourself to an organism that lends legitimacy to your life: one where “the other” defines discourse for you. However, you are not alone in this matter. The vast majority of humanity is sleepwalking through their insignificant lives, their minds manipulated by the power of The Matrix.

      God created marriage to enslave his creation, to bind those whose minds were weak enough to be unable to resist it’s temptation, to humiliate themselves in such a union.

      Has it ever occurred to either yourself or others, as to why humans engage within the inferior practice of love? Of course it hasn’t. Humankind is content with allowing temptation and basic instinct rule within their weak minds. God has “forced love upon humanity” in order to perpetuate the species. God has willfully toyed with the emotions of humans, in order to satisfy a question that “It” has: can humans decipher right from wrong and thus escape the Abode of the Damned? Satan promised to take as many human souls to Hell, before the End of Days. Many humans will indeed enter Hell, as promised by Satan. Humans are so easily mislead.

      As time progresses, humans will continue to be led astray by Satan and those allied to The Darkness. The signs are all there within all societies across the world today. Marriage will fail and The Forces of Darkness shall triumph over Good. It is in the very nature of Humanity to go toward that which is easy and simple: Sin.

      Humanity was the result of an Experiment conducted by The Puppet Master to observe and document the extent to which a free-thinking organism could use it’s intelligence to decipher right from wrong (as defined by God). The results of that Experiment will reveal that Humanity was a mistake.

      Bye.

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