Taking the
out of

Five Truths That Can Save a Marriage

We have all heard the story of the ship’s captain who carefully piloted his vessel through dangerous waters by steering it exactly by his compass. Yet his vessel hit the rocks and sank. At the inquest, the ship’s compass was salvaged and carefully examined. It was found that someone, while cleaning the wooden case, had carelessly left a tiny fragment of a steel knife lodged in a crack. This had deflected the needle just enough to cause the great ship to stray from its course and strike the rocks.

Many a marriage has been wrecked because one or both partners believed something which deflected the marital compass. Beliefs can be decisive. Truth can save, and error can ruin. One’s marital voyage is important enough to make certain that every idea lodged in one’s mind is verified by an authoritative standard of truth—the Word of God.

An article in a Reader’s Digest proclaimed "Five Myths that Can Wreck a Marriage." The principal point was that wrong ideas one believes can wreck a marriage.

The corollary of this axiom is equally valid: truths that one believes can change a marriage and make it happy. If believing falsehoods can damage a marriage, believing inspired truths will certainly tend to restore its happiness. This is the Bible principle of righteousness by faith, the most profound insight into how human nature functions that has ever dawned on the world.

Paganism says your salvation depends on the things you do. Some supposedly Christian groups have failed to comprehend that genius-idea of the New Testament—that salvation depends on believing what is true. (Good works follow faith.) A marriage partner who has never seriously looked for good things in his or her spouse may divorce him or her and never realize that beneath what appears to be a rough exterior is a potential gold mine. Is it possible that an ornery spouse can turn out to be a treasure? One fairy tale tells of a princess who reluctantly kissed an ugly frog, only to discover a handsome captive prince within the hideous creature. The story is imaginary, of course, but the principle it enunciates may not be. Can an agape kiss turn a "frog" of a spouse into a princess or prince? Read on.

The following truths that can save a troubled marriage are derived from a source that is unimpeachable—the Bible. It may sound simplistic to say that they work, but they do if they are carried out in faith and looking to God for guidance:

  1. God invented marriage in the beginning, and He still joins two people to become one whenever we let Him lead. Satan tries to break up marriages because he hates anything God is involved in. The Lord brought Eve to Adam, and Jesus drew a lesson from this: "What God hath joined together, let not man put asunder." Matthew 19:6. As surely as night follows day, we can expect that Satan will try to put them asunder because he hates whatever God has done. But the whole point of the Bible is that Christ has conquered Satan, "paralyzed" him (see Hebrews 2:14); "destroy" is paralyze in the original. If we can believe that God has joined us in our marriage, and that He is stronger than the devil, a thousand difficulties may be solved at once.

"But my spouse and I are ‘unequally yoked together’—the very thing God says shouldn’t be! (See 2 Corinthians 6:14.) How could God have anything to do with joining us together?"

Are you really sure that you are "unequally yoked"? "What knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?" 1 Corinthians 7:16. What appears to you to be an unbeliever may turn out to be a beautiful child of God, just as an ugly caterpillar may turn out to be a gorgeous butterfly If one’s unbelieving spouse ever does become a believer, it means that in His foreknowledge God has counted him or her to be such all along, for the Bible says that He "calleth those things which be not as though they were." Romans 4:17.

The sooner one’s faith stands on God’s side, the sooner He may be able to work effectively. Whether such good news applies to your marriage only He can tell you and whisper to you as you kneel alone before Him in faith and contrition. He will! Just listen.

Don’t forget that God sometimes sends us choice gifts in unattractive wrappings. Jesus, for instance, was born in a cowpen with the chickens and the goats. Take a second look at the "gift" you may be thinking of throwing away. There might be a treasure in it.

"But I am divorced and now remarried! Which marriage am I to believe God joined together?" The true answer may be, both. Mistakes in the past do not deprive us of God’s mercy and guidance. Now the Lord says, "Go, and sin no more." John 8:31. "God may well have overlooked bygone periods when men did not know him; but now he calls on all men everywhere to reform their lives." Acts 17:31, NAB. Don’t compound one mistake by making two. If you’ve broken one person’s heart, don’t break another’s.

"Houses and riches are the inheritance of fathers: and a prudent wife is from the Lord." Proverbs 19:14. That’s the same kind heavenly Father who notices when a sparrow falls to the ground. He has a kind hand in one’s marriage, for Jesus says we are worth "many sparrows" (Matthew 10:31).

God will bless your marriage in spite of Satan’s efforts to break it up, if you will let Him. Such blessings are the real ground on which hope can be built; and if hope is possible, all kinds of difficulties can be solved.

  1. Your spouse may be a jewel in the rough, only waiting the touch of the Master. When the true love of Christ operates in a person, he or she is inevitably transformed. Paul lists a catalog of people who were typical of the Corinthians: "thieves, . . . drunkards, . . . slanderers, . . . swindlers," and some "guilty of: adultery or of homosexual perversion." 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10, NEB. Then he adds, "Such were some of you. But you have been through the purifying waters; . . . justified through the name of the Lord Jesus." Verse 11. The "good news" that Paul proclaimed worked! It is no less effective now. In many cases, all that a troubled marriage needs is that genuine good news. The best one to give it is the believing spouse.
  2. Often unpleasant personalities are such because of a secret irritant, an unresolved personal problem that has embittered them. Usually the root is a failure to understand that God has been a Friend instead of a divine Enemy. What makes people ornery is feeling that God is against them. This is why Paul pleads, "In Christ’s name, we implore you, be reconciled to God!" 2 Corinthians 5:20, NEB. Many an unhappy person has begun to sing when that reconciliation takes place at the deepest levels. Even disappointments of the dark past can be seen in a new and more realistic perspective when the light of God’s love illuminates those tragic mysteries.
  3. God has ordained that certain advantages be built in to every marriage, but they are often neglected or misunderstood.
    1. Praying together every day cements two hearts together as nothing else can do. In our modern world of double jobs and careers, overtime, TV, and frenetic amusements, this simple custom has all but died out, and with it has died out a lot of marital happiness.

One of the cardinal principles of the successful Alcoholics Anonymous program is the acknowledgement before God and one’s fellows that "I can’t control my drinking; I need the help of a Higher Power." You can form within your own four walls your own local chapter of Troubled Spouses Anonymous. In marriages that leave God out there is a spiritual dimension lacking. Those who resist this truth frequently reap the fruit of their unbelief in tragic and unnecessary heartache.

When husband or wife can honestly admit to the other, "This is beyond us; let us invite the Lord to come in and bless our unhappy home," they are beginning to get out of the woods. The Lord is a divine Gentleman; He will not push His way into your home uninvited. When the two disciples were walking to Emmaus one evening, the resurrected Jesus joined them on the way, incognito. When they reached their home, they rather casually invited Him to come in and stay with them. He made as if He must go on. Not until they "constrained Him, saying, Abide with us," did He "tarry with them." Luke 24:28, 29.

This little incident throws a flood of light on God’s relationships with us. Indeed, He wants to come in and bless our homes with His happy presence as a Guest, but He must be invited. That’s what daily kneeling together in prayer is all about. No matter how awkward you may feel about doing it, do it, and believe the truth: He accepts every sincere invitation, and never bawls you out because you have waited so long to begin.

Christian families do not partake of daily food until they have invited the Unseen Guest to each meal. Statistics are not available, but I venture to say that it is extremely rare that a couple split up who humbly seek God together daily. They may still have perplexities and irritating problems, but they know a new inner strength, and they can cope.

  1. When parents divorce, the children are usually the worst losers. If parents reflected on the fact that their children are the product of: their union, they might think twice before seeking a divorce.

When a marriage breaks up, the child often feels that he is somehow to blame. Depending on his age, he realizes that he is the product of his parents, and he reasons, "If the marriage that brought me into this world is a failure, perhaps I too am a failure. Here’s nothing’ going’ nowhere." He can even feel a sense of unfairness that he is doomed to live, while the love which produced him is doomed to die. This is one reason why many children of divorced parents have a low sense of self-esteem. It is easier to adjust emotionally to the physical death of a parent than it is to the death of a marital oneness responsible for their very existence.

The realization that a child in a happy home is more likely to develop into a well-adjusted, happy person should be a strong incentive for parents to work toward furnishing a happy home.

  1. It sometimes happens that a hard-to-please spouse becomes manageable when the other spouse voluntarily surrenders in a conflict. Jesus gave some counsel on what might appear to be an entirely different subject, but which is uncannily appropriate in today’s milieu of marital discord and divorce courts: "Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge." Matthew 5:25.

It may sound strange to suggest that a spouse is an "adversary," but that is what many are. In such a situation you can see it is possible to win an argument and lose a marriage.

Although the Bible says, "Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands," it adds immediately, "as unto the Lord." Ephesians 5:22. "The husband is the head of the wife" only in the sense that "Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body." Verse 23. There is gentleness and humility in Christ, for He says, "I am meek and lowly in heart. " Matthew 11:29. This may be a difficult lesson for many men to learn, but they will discover that, if they put it in practice, a wife will find it much easier to "submit" to her husband, yet welcoming his husbandly headship.

A wife can cut a thousand Gordian knots of tense bitterness by giving in on a matter that does not involve a moral principle, even if she knows she is right and her husband is wrong. Some men only learn the hard way—by making a mistake. If this turns out to be the case, she will show true wisdom if she holds her tongue and refuses to say, "I told you so!"

  1. Order Taking the Deadlock Out of Wedlock. Gems of truth that can save an unhappy marriage.Stop centering your attention on your own happiness and turn your marriage into a ministry of love to others. Many a marriage is miserably unhappy simply because it is a selfish union. The love that brings happiness to a married couple is a love that wants to make other people happy. Serve together in some regular ministry to needy people. Together put yourselves out in lifting others’ burdens, and you will very likely find your own burden become lighter. You’ll end up taking the deadlock out of wedlock.


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