Fortifying A Marriage Part 2
In order for a building to last the test of time, it must be built on a solid foundation. The foundation for a Christian marriage is the Man Christ Jesus. As with the first marriage in Genesis was a picture of the intimacy God had with Adam before sin entered the world, a Christian marriage is a picture of Jesus and His bride (the church). This is shown in Ephesians 5 where Paul lays out the roles of a husband and wife in their marriage. Paul concludes chapter 5 by saying, “Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.” Dr. Emerson Eggerichs suggestions in his book Love and Respect that if a husband would show his wife love and the wife shows her husband respect, most martial issues would be resolved (P. 15).
The foundation of a fortified marriage takes planning. An excellent way to ensure a long-lasting and God pleasing union is making sure the foundation has time to set up properly. The longer the foundation has to become firm, the more likely the structure or building will last. The more time is taken to make sure the foundation is plumb or straight, the straighter the structure or building will be. A solid foundation takes planning and so should a marriage. Laying the proper foundation should start before the proposal.
In their book Pre-Engagement: 5 Questions to Ask Yourselves, David Powlison and John Yenchko lay out the idea if a couple asks five questions regarding each other before a proposal happens, it will prevent pain later in the relationship (P. 2). The first question a couple should ask is are both Christians? According to 2 Corinthians 6:14-16 (Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, “I will dwell in them and walk among them; And I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”), Christians should only marry other Christians. Making sure that each person has the same mindset is the ideal situation for a marriage. Some would even suggest if one person is a committed Christian and the other is a carnal (or backslidden) Christian, red flags should go up because this could keep the two from having the same mindset; the mindset of Christ. The second question a couple should ask is what is the track record of solving problems biblically? There is no problem-free marriage, but the couple with a record of solving problems biblically can have confidence that Jesus Christ is active in the relationship (Powlison & Yenchko, 2000). The third question asked in Pre-Engagement: 5 Questions to Ask Yourselves deals with the idea of “leaving and cleaving;” is the couple heading in the same direction in life? Four times the Bible has “leaving and cleaving” with regards to marriage. Leaving implies that the couple no longer follows the agenda of their parents; the couple sets out to create their own agenda for their lives together. Cleaving is a choice to move in the same direction as a couple (Powlison & Yenchko, 2000). The fourth question asked deals with the observation of other people of the couple’s relationship. Couples tend to be star-stuck with one another. People outside of the relationship will see the truth and not the sugar covered allusion. The fifth and final question is if each person in the relationship is willing to accept each other as they are? Fear, guilt, social pressure, and/or twisted sense of fate are not reasons for a couple to get married (Powlison & Yenchko, 2000).
Once the proposal is made and accepted, most couples fail to lay the ground work for a healthy marriage. In the book Love Is A Decision, Dr. Gary Smalley and Dr. John Trent write that it’s easier to get a marriage license than to get a driver’s license; the average couple will spend over two hundred hours getting ready for the wedding service but less than three hours in any type of premarital counseling (P.17). There are a number of premarital counseling tools couples can draw from to better prepare for marriage.
Dr. Clinton and Dr. Ohlschlager in their book Competent Christian Counseling, write about four types of martial interventions that promote better marriages by focusing on the preparation of marriage, marriage enrichment, church-based interventions (i.e. marriage education, marriage mentoring, and lay ministry counseling, and martial therapy). These hope-focused relationship enhancements can be used for couple enrichment, problem prevention, therapy for strengthening marriages (P. 456). Statistics show that even a small amount of training before the marriage begins will affect in marriage satisfaction in a positive way (Smalley, 1989). Making sure the foundation to a life-long marriage is laid properly; all the ingredients must of in the mix. The main ingredient is making sure God is the center of the relationship. The idea of honor is another important key ingredient to make sure the foundation for a life-long marriage is solid.
1 Peter 3:7 (“You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.”) focuses on husbands to honor their wives so that their prayers will not be hindered. The husband is to show honor toward the wife as an equal. When honor is shown, this implies that the person’s opinions carry weight; they are valued (Smalley, 1989). Making sure God is the center of a marriage determines the strength of the foundation, and having honor in the couple’s relationship will further strengthen the union.
Having the proper foundation that is solid and straight will help in the fortification of a marriage. If a Christians’ marriage is truly Christ-centered, their foundation is strong. When storms of life come in forms of illness, financially stress, bitterness, etc. a marriage on a solid foundation will take the beating and still stand tall and strong.
Clinton, T., Hart, A., & Ohlschlager, G. (2005). Caring For People God’s Way. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc.
Clinton, T. & Ohlschlager, G. (2002). Competent Christian Counseling. New York, NY: WaterBrook Multnomah.
Powlison, D. & Yenchko, J. (2000). Pre-Engagement: 5 Questions to Ask Yourselves. Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R Publishing Company.
Tripp, P.D.. (1999). Marriage: Whose Dream. Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R Publishing Company.
Smalley, G. & Trent, J. (1989). Love Is A Decision. Nashville, TN: Word Publishing.
Smalley, G. (2000). Secrets to Lasting Love. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, Inc.
Clinton, T. & Sibcy, G. (2006). Why You Do The Things You Do: The Secret to Healthy Relationships. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
Eggerichs, E. (2004). Love & Respect. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.