How to Have A Joyous Marriage!by Roderick C. MeredithHere are “keys’ to help make your marriage special! These insights and testedprinciples will help you build your marriage into a precious relationship of joyand beauty.HJM4 Edition 1.3, May 1996This booklet is not to be sold! It has been provided as a free publiceducational service by the Global Church of God1993 GLOBAL CHURCH OF GOD All rights reserved. Printed in the U.S.
A.Editor in ChiefRoderick C. Meredith Executive EditorRaymond F. McNair Managing EditorJeffrey H. Patton Associate EditorGary Foster Associate EditorThomas E. Robinson Assistant to the EditorBradley J. Mitchell Contributing EditorRonald B.
Nelson Art DirectorKaren Myers Art AssistantDonna Prejean Business ManagerJ. Edwin Pope CirculationWayne Pyle Technical AdvisorEric T. Myers Information SystemsSanford Beattie Information SystemsRob CarricoWith tears in their eyes, dozens and scores of women have told me how miserabletheir marriages were. They obviously wish with all their hearts that things werebetter, but they don’t know what to do.
“My husband won’t really open up and talk with me about our problems”, manywomen say.”My psychologist told me to go have an affair and I would feel better,” onewoman said. “But I know that’s wrong and I just can’t do that!”In our “now generation,” most folks don’t think of the long-term consequences oftheir actions, and our acceptance of “quickie” marriages and divorces onlycompounds the problem.
Why try to work through all the problems in your marriagewhen you can just divorce and feel better right now?In an outstanding recent article, former Secretary of Education, William J.Bennett, made these insightful comments: “..
.but during the same recent 30-yearperiod there has been a 560% increase in violent crime; a 419% increase inillegitimate births; a quadrupling in divorce rates; a tripling of thepercentage of children living in single-parent homes; more than a 200% increasein the teenage suicide rate; and a drop of almost 80 points in SAT scores….
!”If you wish to avoid the misery of this foolish generation, then read carefullyand prayerfully the pages to follow. For we are going to discuss seven vitalkeys to building and enriching the very basis of all decent society–yourmarriage and your family.I. Commitment is basicThe expression “till death do us part” may seem old fashioned or passe to manyyoung people. But those same couples may be suffering loneliness, emptiness andmisery if they leave that concept out of their marriages.Yet today, most people take for granted the modern option of leaving their mateand forsaking their marriage vows.
Many couples plan for the eventuality ofdivorce by having a lawyer write up a prenuptial agreement. Then they promise tostay together for life, but insist on acting “prudently” to protect their assetsin case the marriage doesn’t last.This idea may seem wise and prudent, but is it really?No!The common acceptance of the “escape hatch” of an easy divorce creates a viciouscycle. The more some people divorce, the easier it seems for others to dolikewise. And the breakdown of a society has begun!Nearly all thoughtful men and women realize that a stable home and family isbasic for a decent society. As our homes and marriages come apart, so thewildness, ruthlessness and violence in our society will increase.It is vital that we all grasp that the basis for marriage itself is the supremepurpose of our Creator! That’s right! If you leave the great God who made usmale and female out of the picture, then human reason is the only basis foranything–and absolute chaos will ensue.
It is God who said:”Let us make man in our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominionover the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, overall the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So Godcreated man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male andfemale He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Befruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fishof the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves onthe earth” (Genesis 1:26-28).God instituted marriageWe see here that it is God who made us male and female. And His first command tohumans was to “multiply”–obviously implying marriage and home.God the Father is the Author of marriage. In Matthew 19, Jesus gave us someprinciples concerning marriage.
The Pharisees tested His teaching on the subjectby asking, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?”(Matthew 19:3).In other words, can a man put away his wife for just any reason? They distortedwhat Moses had said in the Old Testament about putting a wife away, and wouldeven use a pimple, a wart or almost anything as an excuse to put their wivesaway.And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them atthe beginning made them male and female,” and said, “For this reason a man shallleave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall becomeone flesh”? (verse 4-5).God made the man and the woman for each other. He created the man and his wifeto complement one another physically, psychologically, emotionally and mentallyso they could live a balanced and happy life together.Jesus taught that a man should leave his father and his mother and cleave to hiswife!If you do have to bring senile or infirm in-laws to your home later, after themarriage is firmly established, then that’s different.
But at the beginning, andcertainly for the first several years, normally, you’re to leave relatives andcleave to your wife or your husband.Throughout your married life, always remember that it is GOD who made you “one.”In a true marriage, a man and woman covenant before God to take each other asmates for life.
Under all normal circumstances, you should stay together. Ifneed be, you should pray and work to save your marriage.In Malachi 2:13-16, our Creator shows why He sometimes withholds His blessing:You cover the altar of the LORD with tears, with weeping and crying; so He doesnot regard the offering anymore, nor receive it with good will from your hands.Yet you say, “For what reason?” Because the LORD has been witness between youand the wife of your youth, with whom you have dealt treacherously; yet she isyour companion and your wife by covenant.
But did He not make them one, having aremnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring. Therefore takeheed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth.”For the LORD God of Israel says that He hates divorce, for it covers one’sgarment with violence,” says the LORD of hosts. “Therefore take heed to yourspirit, that you do not deal treacherously.”Notice that God says plainly that He hates divorce!So should you.
That doesn’t mean you hate divorced people. Neither does God.Rather, He pities them and wishes that we humans would quit fighting and arguingand learn to love one another.If we would truly do this–and make a real commitment when we marry–then wecould work out any problems that might arise. We could learn the lessons ofgiving, sharing and forgiving in a way that only marriage can teach. Ourfaithfulness to our mates shows our Maker that our commitment to Him will alsobe lasting.II.
Communication is vitalOne of the greatest shortcomings in literally millions of marriages is the lackof open and loving communication. Note that I said, “open and loving,” notshouting, criticizing or threatening.This lack is especially discouraging to many wives. A young man will put hisbest foot forward during the courtship. He will walk and talk for hours with apretty young woman he hopes to marry. His hormones are raging.
So he willconfide in her, encourage and flatter her, do almost anything to get thisbeautiful young woman to say “yes” and marry him.But, not too many days or weeks after the marriage, a man may begin to withdraw.He seems to forget that his sweetheart agreed to marry because she honestlythought she was liked and respected as a person. She expected and hoped to be afull partner in life with her future husband–sharing with him their mutualplans, hopes and dreams.However, when “hubby” starts coming home late with liquor on his breath and hasnothing to say, or when he eats dinner quickly and silently and then plopshimself in front of the TV, or when he spends most nights away from home playingpool with “the boys”–that hurts!So before you even become officially engaged, you had better become “bestfriends” with your future mate–and mean it. You had better find out if youtruly have a whole range of interests in common–besides sex and romance!In a truly happy marriage, the two individuals are to become like one person.
There is to be a oneness of mind, body, emotions, attitudes and a sharing innearly every aspect of life.This doesn’t mean that a man can never play basketball, handball, pool, or cardswith other men occasionally. Good masculine companionship once in a while helpsa husband to be more of a man. This gives him more confidence and more of arelease for a particular part of his nature that ought to be expressed withother men.But if a husband is always playing cards, basketball, baseball, or pool withother men–or away from home trying to make it big on the job–then this takeshim mentally, emotionally and physically away from his wife and children. Acontinuing practice of this is wrong! It is breaking the commandment of Christthat a man is to cleave to his wife.Every married man has the God-given responsibility to spend time at home withhis wife and children.
Is this where a considerable amount of your time andinterest lies? Or is it always somewhere else, doing something else?Where is your “heart”? How and where do you spend your time?Spend time alone with your mateHusbands and wives need special time together–sometimes apart even from thechildren. Get a babysitter, if you can, and go out to dinner or to a concertonce in a while. You can walk, hand in hand, as you used to do when you werecourting and dating–dance together, talk together and love together.
You can even take short trips together. Then you will appreciate the childrenmore, because you’ve been away from them for a few days (not several weeks ormonths) perhaps once or twice a year. This doesn’t hurt them at all, if they areproperly trained and your family is emotionally close as it should be.
Look at some examples in the Bible. You’ll find that men like Abraham, Isaac andJacob were away from their children far more than many of us today. It’s amatter of correctly training the children while you’re with them, and givingthem a stable atmosphere and foundation for the remainder of their lives.
Of course, many don’t have much opportunity to go someplace together, or can’tafford it. But there are other ways you can be alone together. You can begin bysending the children to bed by eight or eight-thirty in the evening. Then youwill have an hour and a half or two hours together–before you go to bed.You can listen to music together, read the Bible together occasionally, and doother things together.
Sometimes you can have a babysitter watch the childrenwhile you and your wife take a long walk together.A little thoughtfulness and tenderness can help a great deal!Many of you men who have marriage problems should court your wife as you used to.Practice the art of trying to cleave to her, and spend time together. Then youwill really understand your wife, and she will feel close to you mentally andemotionally. Both of you will have more of the mutual understanding andaffection you used to have when you were first married.
But you do need to communicate in all those activities! Remember, love does notautomatically make one a skilled mind reader.Men, be sure you don’t let other things distract you–or create situations whichexcuse you–from talking openly and genuinely with your mate about your deepestinterests and concerns in life. Let her know if you think something is missingin your relationship. And truly listen to her with your heart as well as yourhead when she talks to you about similar matters.If you love your mate, tell him or her–say it frequently. Open up.
If you shareyour hopes and dreams with the love of your life, then your love will growdeeper and be even more meaningful.III. Set family goals togetherA truly meaningful home and marriage ought to have a number of goals in mindbesides sexual fulfillment. Too often, young people are so consumed with sexualinterest that they neglect to build a home, an enduring family and a meaningfullife together. So when the sexual fireworks start to slow down after a fewmonths or years of marriage, these people feel a sense of letdown or betrayal.God mentions one of the reasons He made man and woman one in marriage.
Noticeagain the inspired words of Malachi, “But did He not make them one, having aremnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring. Therefore takeheed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth”(Malachi 2:15).A young husband and wife normally ought to be planning for children, a real home,a sense of family, stability and all that this implies. If both husband and wifeare working, they need to plan together to set aside money so she can stopworking for several years, at least, in order to have and rear children.Couples should discuss what kind of home, education and family activities theyfeel will work out best for them. They should regularly set little goals to workon together. Then, as partners in their family enterprise, they should see thatthese smaller goals all fit in with and support the fulfillment of their majorfamily goals.
An illustration of working toward a smaller goal might include planning togethera summer vacation trip. Each partner might wish to do some reading and researchseparately, talk to different friends, get ideas. Then, together, they can spendtime discussing alternatives, planning a tentative trip budget, and finalizingplans.This type of goal-sharing and planning is obviously increased when as couple haschildren. Then they need to discuss regularly the childrens’ health, development,education, friends, neighborhood problems and their respective goals in life.That is one reason, among many others, why having children often serves to givegreater strength and stability to a marriage.
Jesus Christ said to His disciples, “No longer do I call you servants, for aservant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends,for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you” (John15:15).Even the Son of God did not withhold from His friends the plans and programs Heand the Father had in mind. So you men, especially, open up and bring your wivesinto the planning process of how and where you want to live in the future, whereyou hope your career may take you and the goals you have in mind for yourselfand for the family as a whole. Make them feel like an integral part of the bigprograms in your life.IV. Marriage means givingOne of the greatest joys in life that everyone ought to experience is the joy ofgiving: is seeing the deep appreciation, the radiant smiles and the joy ofothers because you thought of them.The Apostle Paul wrote, “I have shown in every way, by laboring like this, thatyou must support the weak.
And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that Hesaid, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive'” (Acts 20:35).Marriage is certainly one of the best places to learn to give. For when you areconstantly living with another person, when you are bound by God in marriage tothat person, you desperately need to learn to give and give and give in orderfor that union to be as deeply happy and satisfying as it should be!As the one God intended to take the lead, a husband ought to take the lead increating, in marriage, an atmosphere of giving and serving. Then the wife shouldsurely follow this lead so that each party is trying to give a wonderful lifeand marriage to the other, to enrich their partner’s life in every possible way.Otherwise, if both partners are immature, selfish and just trying to “get”, thenbig trouble lies ahead!You husbands especially need to remember that Christ gave Himself for theChurch:That He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, orwrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. Soought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loves his wife loveshimself (Ephesians 5:26-28).
Authorized (King James) Version.Every right-minded man certainly desires to cherish and protect his wife. She ishis sweetheart, his companion, the mother of his children.
He ought to realizethat she is part of him! “For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes andcherishes it, just as the Lord does the church” (verse 29).Realizing that his wife is part of him, a man certainly ought to have asolicitous and protective feeling toward his wife and sweetheart. He shouldconstantly be thinking of her welfare so that she does not strain or overdo; sothat her grace and beauty may be preserved throughout all of their married life.A real man will notice when his wife is overworking and lighten her burdenswhenever possible.
He will leap to action to lift heavy things for her, scrubthose burnt pans or vacuum for her when she is tired or over worked. He willhelp her when she is sick, and protectively and lovingly watch over her in manysuch ways!Of course, a man should not do this because he is nagged or henpecked into doingit! And no right-minded wife would knowingly do this. If a wife makes demandsbeyond reason upon her husband, it is his duty as the family’s leader to set hisfoot down and restore a proper balance in their relationship–though, as much aspossible, he still helps her out in sincere love and concern for their lifetogether. The woman also has her responsibilities, her particular duties in thehousehold, and she should gladly do them.
But, help from her husband comes in asan act of love–freely and fully given when she is sick, downcast or is suddenlyfaced with an object too heavy to lift, a job too difficult for her toaccomplish without the physically stronger partner of the marriage giving of hishelp and strength in love to his wife and sweetheart.Learn this lesson, men! Your wives will repay you in a thousand ways over theyears to come if you learn to give this help when it is needed–and give itfreely and in kindness.The Christian wifeCertainly every Christian woman ought to think about serving her husband–aboutcaring for his health and personal needs, about encouraging him, loving him andhelping him grow as a husband and father in every way she can.
One of the great tragedies of our inflationary society is that millions of youngwives are virtually forced to work outside the home! Often, they come home tiredand bedraggled at night. A wife in this situation lacks the zest and energy tocook special meals, keep the house as she would wish to–let alone be anenthusiastic sweetheart, companion and lover for her husband.Each of you who read this need to meditate deeply about the quality of life youdesire. Think carefully about building a real family with children–and a wifethat is able to stay home and rear that family as our Creator certainlyintended!The apostle Paul was inspired to instruct the older women:That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to lovetheir children, To be discrete, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to theirown husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed (Titus 2:4-5) Authorized(King James) Version.
As Proverbs 31 tells us, a woman like this who gives herself to her family, tobuilding a real home–will indeed be honored both by God and by man. “Herchildren rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her”(Proverbs 31:28).If you can use your marriage and your family as a “training ground,” tounreservedly love, share and give to others, you will develop the greatestcharacteristic of all. Then, from a strong, happy marriage as a base of strength,that love can flow out from you and your mate to the rest of your family,friends, neighbors and associates.In every aspect of your married life, learn to practice the way of give. Youwill not be sorry.V.
The ART of FORGIVINGTo be happy and remain happy in marriage, you must not only give but alsoforgive. There have never been two perfect people on earth, and so no marriagehas ever been truly perfect–as all long-married people understand.You knew full well when you married that your husband or wife was not perfect.So you must not hold them up to some unreasonable standard of perfection. If youdo, you will both be perfectly miserable.
When there are real misunderstandings and hurts–and there will be–you mustlearn to forgive. As a real Christian, you are commanded to forgive all men–sohow much more your own mate!Jesus Christ, the One who shed His blood for us, stated, “For if you forgive mentheir trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do notforgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses”(Matthew 6:14-15).You must ask God in prayer to grant you the spirit of forgiveness–the abilityto completely put away all resentment and animosity against others who have hurtyou. And then you need to practice this.
Do it regularly. Build the habit offorgiving others quickly, especially your own mate!There are those who carry grudges. They often brood and fume and smolder overlittle hurts and misunderstandings.Are you like this?If you are, you need to pray to God in heaven to help you get over thistendency–and to completely forgive your mate for the literally dozens of littlehurts that can occur when two people live together.Do you really enjoy making yourself miserable, your mate miserable and everyoneelse miserable by carrying grudges around forever? If you really think about it,very few of us really want this result.
So work on it.Change your pattern of thinking. Don’t allow yourself to get hurt so easily.Pray your heart out to God who is called “the Father of mercies” (II Corinthians1:3).
As He forgives us again and again, so must we forgive others–includingour mates.The apostle Peter commands Christian men to honor their wives, “as being heirstogether of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered” (I Peter3:7).Peter then proceeds to give instructions that apply to all situations, butespecially the “marriage situation”:Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love asbrothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil orreviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you werecalled to this, that you may inherit a blessing (verses 8-9).
Yes, we need to have compassion for our mates and forgive them regularly. Weneed to be courteous and tenderhearted in marriage. For marriage is a wonderfulworkshop for learning the art of giving, forgiving, kindness and mercy–if wewill prayerfully and unselfishly use it to help us build these qualities intoour character.The apostle Peter asked Jesus, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me,and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” (Matthew 18:21).Think about it! Sometimes your mate will offend you (though you probablyshouldn’t be so sensitive!) many times in one day!Jesus understood.
He knew that we all need forgiveness from God and from eachother again and again. So Jesus answered, “I do not say to you, up to seventimes, but up to seventy times seven” (verse 22).So love your mate. Forgive your mate.
Don’t carry grudges.Remember how difficult it must be for him or her to live with you! If you weresomeone else, how would you like to have to put up with all the mistakes andfoibles that you exhibit almost every week of your life?Remind yourself that you cannot be happy “hating” your mate. Learn to genuinelyforgive, forget and move forward to a truly joyous and satisfying life.Which brings us to our next point.
VI. Romance and funMost courtships and marriages begin with romance and fun. The young couplespends a lot of time together. They go to the beach, the mountains or the park.They eat together. They go out dancing, or to the museum, libraries or movies.
Above all, they have long, intimate talks with each other–looking into eachother’s eyes, exulting in the romance of love.And they have fun.In most cases, they laugh and kiss and kid around and really enjoy the getting-to-know-you stage of courtship. Life takes on a special glow because of theirattraction to each other–and because they are using that attraction to enhanceand make special the sharing of all their activities and intimate momentstogether.But all too often–a few weeks or months after the marriage–this fun andromance begins to leave the marriage. Often, life becomes hum-drum and dull andone or both marriage partners start asking themselves, “What went wrong?”Why?There are often a number of reasons, of course, but let’s discuss two of themost common reasons why a marriage loses its romance and zest.