Saturday, August 30, 2008
Let your marriage mate know what sort of person you are, don't be a gamer when you get married because this could be the beginning to the end of your marriage. Next topic will be more conversational with my readers, i want you to post me a question about dating or marriage what your husband or Lover is doing wrong and i will tell you possible solutions to problem you may be facing in your Relationship.
What causes two people who once vowed to love and cherish each other to become so distant? One factor is a lack of education about what marriage entails. "We enter the institution without any training whatsoever," observes one medical journalist.
That few today possess such know-how is borne out by a study conducted by The National Marriage Project, a research initiative of Rutgers University in New Jersey, U.S.A. "Many in this study have grown up with unhappily married or divorced parents," write the directors of the project. "They know exactly what a bad marriage is, but they are less sure of what a good marriage looks like. Some can only describe a good marriage as 'the opposite of my parents.'"
Are Christians immune to marital problems? No. In fact, some Christians in the first century needed pointed counsel to "stop seeking a release" from their marriage. (1 Corinthians 7:27) Clearly, any marriage of two imperfect humans is going to have its problems, but we have help. Husbands and wives can improve their relationship by applying Bible principles.
True, the Bible is not a marriage manual. Since it is inspired by the One who originated the marital arrangement, however, we can expect its principles to be helpful. Through the prophet Isaiah, Jehovah God stated: "I, Jehovah, am your God, the One teaching you to benefit yourself, the One causing you to tread in the way in which you should walk. O if only you would actually pay attention to my commandments! Then your peace would become just like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea."—Isaiah 48:17, 18.
Has the love that once existed between you and your mate begun to fade? Do you feel trapped in a loveless marriage? One wife of 26 years said: "The pain that is experienced with this kind of relationship can hardly be described. It is constant and all-permeating." Rather than resign yourself to an unfulfilling marriage, why not resolve to do something about it? The following article will show husbands and wives how Bible principles can help their marriage in one specific area—that of commitment.
If we compare the global divorce phenomenon to an earthquake, the United States would be at the epicenter. In a recent year, more than one million marriages were terminated there—an average of two every minute. But you may well be aware that the United States is hardly alone in its marital misery.
ACCORDING to one study, the divorce rates in Canada, England and Wales, France, Greece, and the Netherlands have more than doubled since 1970.
We have every reason to believe that most couples enter wedlock because they love each other and want to spend the rest of their lives together. Sadly, however, the dream of a happy marriage often proves to be just that—a dream. Upon waking up to reality, many have said that they married too soon or married the wrong person or both.
Why do so many marriages fail? "The main reason is a lack of preparation," says the author of a book about courtship. She adds: "As I deal with couples in the throes of marital distress two feelings engulf me—compassion and anger. I feel compassion because they have not discovered their dreams for a mutually satisfying relationship. I feel anger because of their ignorance regarding the complexity of the task." Young couple looking at wedding store
Indeed, many enter marriage with little or no idea of how to make it succeed. Yet, this is hardly surprising. One educator observed: "How many of our youth go through college studying about the behavior of rats and lizards, but fail to learn about the behavior of two people called husband and wife?"
Are you thinking about marriage—either about a possible future marriage or about that marriage you are in now? If so, you should be aware that a real-life relationship is far different from that depicted in movies, on television shows, and in romance novels. At the same time, the marriage of two mature people who are truly in love may be considered a blessing from God. (Proverbs 18:22; 19:14) How, then, can you be sure that you are prepared to meet the demands of marriage? What factors should you consider in selecting a mate? Or if you are already married, how can you increase the likelihood of finding lasting happiness in your marriage? The next article in this series answers these important questions.
In reality, the wedding is, not the end, but the beginning of a new life together. And hopefully, as Ecclesiastes 7:8 says, "better is the end afterward of a matter than its beginning." A Permanent Bond
Farsightedness is needed. A marriage must have solid foundations if it is to last and be satisfying. Otherwise, the stress experienced after the wedding can be much greater than the stress before it. A Christian cannot enter marriage thinking: 'If it doesn't work out, I can always divorce.' Marriage is to be viewed as a permanent bond.
Jesus made clear that marriage was to be permanent when he answered a question put to him about the propriety of divorce. He stated: "Did you not read that [God] who created them from the beginning made them male and female and said, 'For this reason a man will leave his father and his mother and will stick to his wife, and the two will be one flesh'? So that they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has yoked together let no man put apart."—Matthew 19:4-6. After the Wedding Day
It has rightly been said that in the life of a Christian, marriage is second in importance only to his or her dedication to God. The latter binds one to the Creator forever, and baptism makes that publicly manifest. Marriage is the public declaration of commitment to another person—forever. It is unthinkable either to dedicate oneself to God or to forge a marriage bond while having serious reservations. Therefore, those contemplating marriage do well to examine carefully the prospective mate's beliefs, goals, attitudes, and disposition. Married couple
Marriage should be viewed as a permanent arrangement
In preparing for the wedding, kindness, thoughtfulness, and the spirit of cooperation are important. Such qualities are even more important afterward in making the marriage a success. The newlyweds are in love, but after marriage it has to be remembered that on a daily basis, love "does not look for its own interests." When applied consistently year after year, "love never fails." (1 Corinthians 13:5, 8) With an abiding love, such qualities as long-suffering, kindness, goodness, mildness, and self-control—fruitage of God's spirit—will be easier to demonstrate. These qualities are necessary for a successful marriage.—Galatians 5:22, 23.
The difficult part is continuing to manifest such qualities after the wedding day. However, the secret to success in manifesting such good qualities is this: Love the person you married, and be willing to make sacrifices.
Jesus said that the greatest commandment for humans is to love Jehovah, and he said that the second-greatest commandment is, "Love your neighbor as yourself." (Matthew 22:39) A married person's closest neighbor is his or her marriage partner, for nothing on earth can unite two individuals as marriage can.
However, a mere physical union in itself cannot guarantee emotional harmony. The union of two bodies is not always the union of two minds. For the sexual union to give maximum satisfaction, there also has to be the second—the union of hearts and of intentions. More often than not, making sacrifices for the other person is the price that needs to be paid to make marriage a success. Who should make the sacrifices? The husband? The wife? Showing Love and Honor
God's Word commands: "In showing honor to one another take the lead." (Romans 12:10) If you can, make the sacrifice before your mate asks it of you. After all, something obtained after repeated requests has already lost part of its value. Instead, each partner in a marriage should cultivate the habit of taking the initiative in showing honor to the other.
For instance, husbands are commanded to be "assigning [the wife] honor as to a weaker vessel, the feminine one, . . . in order for [their] prayers not to be hindered." (1 Peter 3:7) If a husband does not give his wife honor, even his prayers to God will be adversely affected. What, though, is meant by honoring one's wife? It means taking her into consideration at all times, listening to her opinions, giving her first choice in various matters much of the time. And the wife can honor the husband in the same way, by working to be a cooperative helpmate.—Genesis 21:12; Proverbs 31:10-31.
God's Word says: "Husbands ought to be loving their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself, for no man ever hated his own flesh; but he feeds and cherishes it, as the Christ also does the congregation." How much love did Christ have for his followers? He was willing to die for them. The Bible also states: "Let each one of you [husbands] individually so love his wife as he does himself." (Ephesians 5:28-33) And God's Word tells wives "to love their husbands, . . . subjecting themselves to their own husbands, so that the word of God may not be spoken of abusively."—Titus 2:4, 5.
DIVORCE AND SEPARATION
God, the Originator of marriage, designed it to be a permanent union. But is there any Scriptural reason for a person to divorce his or her mate—and one that would allow for the possibility of remarrying? Jesus addressed this matter by declaring: "I say to you that whoever divorces his wife, except on the ground of fornication, and marries another commits adultery." (Matthew 19:9) Sexual infidelity by a mate is the only ground for a divorce that will allow the innocent mate to remarry.
In addition, the Bible's words at 1 Corinthians 7:10-16, while encouraging marriage mates to stay together, allow for separation. Some, after trying very hard to preserve their marriage, feel they have no choice but to separate. What can be acceptable Scriptural grounds for such a step?
One is willful nonsupport. When getting married, a husband assumes the responsibility of providing for his wife and children. The man who willfully fails to provide the material necessities of life "has disowned the faith and is worse than a person without faith." (1 Timothy 5:8) So separation is possible.
Another is extreme physical abuse. So then, if a mate physically abuses his wife, the victim may separate. (Galatians 5:19-21; Titus 1:7) "Anyone loving violence [God's] soul certainly hates."—Psalm 11:5.
Another ground for separation is the absolute endangerment of a believer's spirituality—one's relationship with God. When a mate's opposition, perhaps including physical restraint, has made it impossible to pursue true worship and has imperiled the believer's spirituality, then some believers have found it necessary to separate.*—Matthew 22:37; Acts 5:27-32.
However, if divorce is pursued under such circumstances, one would not be free to enter a new marriage. According to the Bible, the only legitimate ground for divorce that permits remarriage is adultery or "fornication."—Matthew 5:32.
* See The Watchtower of November 1, 1988, pages 22-3, for a discussion of separation.
Peter and Jesus
Jesus said that we should forgive "seventy-seven times"
Allow for Mistakes
Since all people are born imperfect, they will make mistakes. (Romans 3:23; 5:12; 1 John 1:8-10) But rather than magnifying mistakes, heed the Bible counsel: "Above all things, have intense love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins." (1 Peter 4:8) Minor mistakes are best handled by putting them behind us, overlooking them. That can be true of more serious ones too. Colossians 3:12-14 states: "Clothe yourselves with the tender affections of compassion, kindness, lowliness of mind, mildness, and long-suffering. Continue putting up with one another and forgiving one another freely if anyone has a cause for complaint against another. Even as Jehovah freely forgave you, so do you also. But, besides all these things, clothe yourselves with love, for it is a perfect bond of union."
How often should we forgive the ordinary mistakes and flaws of our marriage mate? Peter asked Jesus: "'Lord, how many times is my brother to sin against me and am I to forgive him? Up to seven times?' Jesus said to him: 'I say to you, not, Up to seven times, but, Up to seventy-seven times.'" (Matthew 18:21, 22) Since Jesus was saying this about those outside the marriage bond, how much more is forgiveness needed between marriage partners!
Although the institution of marriage has suffered attack in recent years, in the long run, marriage will survive because it was instituted by God and everything he ordains is "very good." (Genesis 1:31) It will not become outdated. And it can be successful, especially among those who respect and uphold God's commandments. But the challenge is: Will the two individuals hold true to the promise they made on the wedding day to love and to cherish each other? That can certainly be a challenge, and you may have to struggle to come off victorious. But the results will be worth the effort!
In 1778, Robert Barron patented a double-acting, lever-tumbler lock that remains the basis of the modern key lock. His design called for the use of a single key capable of raising the lock's two tumblers together.
SIMILARLY, a successful marriage depends on a husband and wife working together in unison. To unlock and experience the precious joys of a good marriage, one essential is wholesome communication.
What Wholesome Communication Involves
What does wholesome communication involve? One dictionary defines communication as "the imparting or interchange of thoughts, opinions, or information by speech, writing, or signs." Communication therefore involves a sharing of sentiments and ideas. And wholesome communication entails things that are upbuilding, refreshing, virtuous, praiseworthy, and consoling.—Ephesians 4:29-32; Philippians 4:8.
Wholesome communication is made possible by confidence, trust, and mutual understanding. These qualities result when marriage is viewed as a lifelong relationship and there is genuine commitment to make it work. Commenting on such a relationship, 18th-century essayist Joseph Addison wrote: "Two persons who have chosen each other out of all the species, with the design to be each other's mutual comfort and entertainment, have, in that action, bound themselves to be good-humored, affable, discreet, forgiving, patient, and joyful, with respect to each other's frailties and perfections, to the end of their lives." How happy such a union is! And these jewellike qualities can adorn your marriage, for they can be yours through wholesome communication.
Obstacles to Wholesome Communication
Most couples approach marriage with optimism, even euphoria. For many, however, the euphoria soon evaporates, and the optimism fades. Assuredness may be replaced by a bitter mixture of frustration, anger, hostility, even strong dislike. The marriage then becomes a situation of mere endurance "till death do us part." To improve or sustain the wholesome communication necessary for a good marriage, then, certain obstacles must be overcome.
A real obstacle to wholesome communication can be fear of how a marriage mate would react to certain information or expressed desire. For instance, fear of rejection may arise after one learns that a serious personal disability is developing. How does one explain to a mate that an upcoming procedure will drastically alter one's appearance or ability to function? In such cases, honest communication and thoughtful planning for the future are needed as never before. Verbal assurances of continuing love, along with frequent acts of tenderness, would communicate a personal interest that would help to promote a truly satisfying marriage. In marriage this proverb should find its richest expression: "A true companion is loving all the time, and is a brother that is born for when there is distress."—Proverbs 17:17.
Resentment is another obstacle to wholesome communication. It has fittingly been said that a happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers. To fit that description, a married couple would make every effort to follow the apostle Paul's practical advice: "Let the sun not set with you in a provoked state." (Ephesians 4:26) Applying this counsel instead of nursing anger or resentment certainly calls for humble communication. Partners in a good marriage do not persistently succumb to anger, quarreling, and holding a grudge. (Proverbs 30:33) They seek to imitate God, who does not harbor resentment. (Jeremiah 3:12) Indeed, they forgive each other from the heart.—Matthew 18:35.
A definite obstacle to any kind of communication is the silent treatment. This may involve glum expressions, heavy sighs, robotlike actions, and a one-sided embargo on speech. A marriage mate who acts in this way is communicating some form of displeasure. But vocalizing personal feelings in a frank and winning manner does much more to improve a marriage than does remaining silent and sullen.
Failure to listen well or at all when a mate speaks is another hurdle that must be overcome for good communication in the close quarters of marriage. Perhaps we are too tired or just too busy to muster the mental and emotional energy needed to listen to each other carefully. Arguments may erupt over misunderstood arrangements that one mate thought were clearly spelled out but that the other insists are being heard for the first time. Obviously, poor communication is responsible for such difficulties.
How to Promote Wholesome Communication
How important it is to take time for loving, wholesome communication! Some spend so much time in front of the TV watching other people's lives that they have little time for their own. Hence, turning off the television set is often a necessary step toward wholesome communication.
Just as there is a right time to speak, however, there is a time to keep quiet. The wise man said: "For everything there is an appointed
It is good to remember that people react best when they can see how cooperating or complying with a request would benefit them. If some stress has developed between mates, one of them might be inclined to say, "Something has been bothering me, and we are going to get it straightened out right now!" Of course, exact wording would depend on the circumstances, but it may be better to say something like this, "Dear, I have been thinking about the matter we discussed earlier and how things might be worked out." Which approach would your mate be more likely to appreciate?
Yes, how something is said is very important. The apostle Paul wrote: "Let your utterance be always with graciousness, seasoned with salt." (Colossians 4:6) Endeavor to be gracious in your tone of voice and choice of words. Bear in mind that "pleasant sayings are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and a healing to the bones."—Proverbs 16:24.
For some couples, working together on projects at home can provide a fine atmosphere for communication. Such cooperation can promote a sense of sharing while affording time for wholesome conversation. For other marriage mates, a quiet time alone together without trying to do some work is better and is more conducive to wholesome communication.
Much can often be learned by taking note of how compatible marriage mates communicate with each other. What has made them that way? Most likely, their harmony and the ease with which they communicate have resulted from personal effort, patience, and loving consideration. They themselves apparently had a lot to learn, for good marriages do not happen automatically. How important it is, then, to consider your partner's viewpoint, to appreciate his or her needs, and to defuse potentially stressful situations with a discreet word. (Proverbs 16:23) If you are married, then, work at being pleasant to live with and easy to apologize to. That will go a long way in making your marriage a good one.
Jehovah God wants people to enjoy happy, lasting marriages. (Genesis 2:18, 21) But the key lies in the hands of those united in wedlock. It takes two loving people who really work together to unlock the door to a successful marriage by mastering the art of wholesome communication.
Would you choose to dive into a river without first learning to swim? Such a foolish act could be harmful—even deadly. Think, though, of how many people jump into marriage with little awareness of how to take on the responsibilities involved.
JESUS said: "Who of you that wants to build a tower does not first sit down and calculate the expense, to see if he has enough to complete it?" (Luke 14:28) What is true of building a tower is also true of building a marriage. Those who want to get married should carefully count the cost of marriage to make sure they can meet the demands.
A Look at Marriage
Having a mate with whom to share life's joys and sorrows is truly a blessing. Marriage can fill a void caused by loneliness or despair. It can satisfy our inborn craving for love, companionship, and intimacy. With good reason, God said after creating Adam: "It is not good for the man to continue by himself. I am going to make a helper for him, as a complement of him."—Genesis 2:18; 24:67; 1 Corinthians 7:9.
Couple in a rowboat
Yes, being married can solve some problems. But it will introduce some new ones too. Why? Because marriage is the blending of two distinct personalities that are perhaps compatible but hardly identical. Hence, even well-matched couples will experience occasional conflict. The Christian apostle Paul wrote that those who marry will have "tribulation in their flesh"—or as The New English Bible renders it, "pain and grief in this bodily life."—1 Corinthians 7:28.
Was Paul being pessimistic? Not at all! He was simply urging those considering marriage to be realists. The euphoric feeling of being attracted to someone is not an accurate gauge of what married life will be like in the months and years following the wedding day. Each marriage has its own unique challenges and problems. The question is not whether they will arise but how to face them when they do.
Problems give a husband and wife opportunity to show the genuineness of their love for each other. To illustrate: A cruise ship may seem majestic as it sits idle, moored at a pier. Its true seaworthiness, however, is proved at sea—perhaps even amid the crashing waves of a storm. Similarly, the strength of a marriage bond is not solely defined during peaceful moments of romantic calm. At times, it is proved under trialsome circumstances in which a couple weathers storms of adversity.
"The Best Description of Love I've Ever Read"
"How do you know if you're really in love?" writes Dr. Kevin Leman. "There's an ancient book that contains a description of love. The book is nearly two thousand years old, but it is still the best description of love I've ever read."
Dr. Leman was referring to the Christian apostle Paul's words found in the Bible at 1 Corinthians 13:4-8:
"Love is long-suffering and kind. Love is not jealous, it does not brag, does not get puffed up, does not behave indecently, does not look for its own interests, does not become provoked. It does not keep account of the injury. It does not rejoice over unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails."
To do so, a married couple needs commitment, for God purposed that a man would "stick to his wife" and that the two would "become one flesh." (Genesis 2:24) The idea of commitment frightens many people today. Yet, it is only reasonable that two people who truly love each other will want to make a solemn promise to stay together. Commitment accords the marriage dignity. It provides a basis for confidence that, come what may, a husband and wife will support each other.* If you are not ready for such a commitment, you are not really ready for marriage. (Compare Ecclesiastes 5:4, 5.) Even those who are already married may need to enhance their appreciation of how vital commitment is to an enduring marriage.
Older married couple
Even those long married can strengthen their marriage bonds
A Look at Yourself
No doubt you can list the qualities you would want in a mate. It is much more difficult, however, to look at yourself to determine how you can contribute to a marriage. Self-scrutiny is vital, both before and after taking the vows of wedlock. For example, ask yourself the following questions.
• Am I willing to make a lifelong commitment to my mate?—Matthew 19:6.
In the days of the Bible prophet Malachi, many husbands left their mates, perhaps to marry younger women. Jehovah said that his altar was covered with the tears of the abandoned wives, and he condemned men who thus "dealt treacherously" with their mates.—Malachi 2:13-16.
• If I am thinking about getting married, am I past the youthful age when sexual feelings run quite strong and can distort good judgment?—1 Corinthians 7:36.
"It is very risky to get married too young," says Nikki, who was 22 when she married. She cautions: "Your feelings, goals, and tastes will continue to change from the time you are in your late teens until you are in your mid-to-late 20's." Of course, readiness for marriage cannot be measured by age alone. Nevertheless, marrying when one is not past the youthful stage when sexual feelings are new and especially strong can distort one's thinking and blind one to potential problems.
• What traits do I have that will help me contribute to a successful marriage?—Galatians 5:22, 23.
The apostle Paul wrote to the Colossians: "Clothe yourselves with the tender affections of compassion, kindness, lowliness of mind, mildness, and long-suffering." (Colossians 3:12) This counsel is appropriate for those who are contemplating marriage as well as for those who are already married.
• Do I have the maturity needed to support a mate through difficult times?—Galatians 6:2.
"When problems occur," says one doctor, "the tendency is to blame the mate. Who is to blame is not what is most important. Rather, it is how both husband and wife can cooperate to improve the marital relationship." The words of wise King Solomon apply to married couples. "Two are better than one," he wrote, "for if one of them should fall, the other one can raise his partner up. But how will it be with just the one who falls when there is not another to raise him up?"—Ecclesiastes 4:9, 10.
• Am I generally cheerful and optimistic, or am I predominantly gloomy and negative?—Proverbs 15:15.
A negative person views each day as bad. Marriage does not miraculously change this attitude! A single person—man or woman—who is largely critical or pessimistic will simply become a married person who is just as critical or pessimistic. Such a negative outlook can put a terrible strain on a marriage.—Compare Proverbs 21:9.
• Do I keep calm under pressure, or do I give in to uncontrolled expressions of rage?—Galatians 5:19, 20.
Christians are commanded to be "slow about wrath." (James 1:19) Before marriage and during marriage, a man or a woman should cultivate the ability to live by this counsel: "Be wrathful, and yet do not sin; let the sun not set with you in a provoked state."—Ephesians 4:26.
A Look at Your Prospective Partner
"The shrewd one considers his steps," states a Bible proverb. (Proverbs 14:15) This is certainly true when selecting a marriage mate. Choosing a marriage mate is one of the most important decisions a man or woman will ever make. Yet, it has been observed that many people spend more time deciding which car to buy or which school to attend than which person to marry.
In the Christian congregation, those who are entrusted with responsibility are "tested as to fitness first." (1 Timothy 3:10) If you are thinking about getting married, you will want to be sure of the "fitness" of the other person. Consider, for example, the following questions. Though they are presented from the standpoint of a woman, many of the principles also apply to a man. And even those who are married can beneficially consider these points.
• What kind of reputation does he have?—Philippians 2:19-22.
Proverbs 31:23 describes a husband who is "known in the gates, when he sits down with the older men of the land." The older men of the city sat at the city gates to render judgment. So, evidently, he had a position of public trust. The way a man is viewed by others tells something about his reputation. If applicable, consider also the way he is viewed by those under his authority. This may indicate how you, as his mate, will in time come to view him.—Compare 1 Samuel 25:3, 23-25.
• What kind of morals does he have?
Godly wisdom is "first of all chaste." (James 3:17) Is your prospective mate more interested in his own sexual gratification than in his and your standing before God? If he is not putting forth an effort to live by God's moral standards now, what basis is there for believing that he will do so after marriage?—Genesis 39:7-12.
• How does he treat me?—Ephesians 5:28, 29.
The Bible book of Proverbs tells of a husband who "has put trust" in his wife. Moreover, "he praises her." (Proverbs 31:11, 28) He is not obsessively jealous, nor is he unreasonable in his expectations. James wrote that the wisdom from above is "peaceable, reasonable, . . . full of mercy and good fruits."—James 3:17.
Young man with his parents
How does he treat his parents?
• How does he treat members of his own family?—Exodus 20:12.
Respect for parents is not just a requirement for children. The Bible says: "Listen to your father who caused your birth, and do not despise your mother just because she has grown old." (Proverbs 23:22) Interestingly, Dr. W. Hugh Missildine wrote: "Many marital difficulties and incompatibilities might be avoided—or at least foreseen—if the prospective bride and groom visited one another's homes casually and observed the relationship between the 'intended' and his parents. The way he looks at his parents will be the coloration through which he will see his spouse. One must ask: 'Do I want to be treated as he treats his parents?' And the way his parents treat him will be a good indication of how he will treat himself and how he will expect you to behave toward him—after the honeymoon."
Emotions Can Be Deceptive
The Shulammite girl of Bible times was evidently well aware of the deceptive power of romantic feelings. When being wooed by powerful King Solomon, she told her girl companions "not to awaken or arouse love in me until it feels inclined." (Song of Solomon 2:7) This wise young woman did not want her friends to pressure her into being ruled by her emotions. This is practical, too, for those considering marriage today. Keep a strong grip on your feelings. If you marry, it should be because you are in love with a person, not merely with the concept of being married.
• Is he given to fits of anger or abusive speech?
The Bible counsels: "Let all malicious bitterness and anger and wrath and screaming and abusive speech be taken away from you." (Ephesians 4:31) Paul warned Timothy of some Christians who would be "mentally diseased over questionings and debates about words" and who would give way to "envy, strife, abusive speeches, wicked suspicions, violent disputes about trifles."—1 Timothy 6:4, 5.
In addition, Paul wrote that one who qualifies for special privileges in the congregation should be "not a smiter"—according to the original Greek, "not dealing blows." (1 Timothy 3:3, footnote) He cannot be one who strikes people physically or browbeats them verbally. A person who is prone to become violent in a moment of anger is not a suitable marriage partner.
• What are his goals?
Some pursue riches and reap the inevitable consequences. (1 Timothy 6:9, 10) Others drift aimlessly through life with no goals to reach. (Proverbs 6:6-11) A godly man, however, will show the same determination as did Joshua, who said: "As for me and my household, we shall serve Jehovah."—Joshua 24:15.
Rewards and Responsibilities
Marriage is a divine institution. It was authorized and established by Jehovah God. (Genesis 2:22-24) He designed the marital arrangement in order to form a permanent bond between a man and a woman so that they might be mutually helpful to each other. When Bible principles are applied, a husband and wife can expect their lot in life to be a joyful one.—Ecclesiastes 9:7-9.
It must be realized, though, that we are living in "critical times hard to deal with." The Bible foretold that during this period of time, people would be "lovers of themselves, lovers of money, self-assuming, haughty, . . . disloyal, having no natural affection, not open to any agreement, . . . betrayers, headstrong, puffed up with pride." (2 Timothy 3:1-4) These traits can have a potent impact upon one's marriage. Thus, those who are considering getting married should soberly count the cost. And those who are now married should continue to work at improving their union by learning and applying divine guidance found in the Bible.
Yes, those contemplating marriage will do well to look beyond the wedding day. And all should consider not only the act of getting married but also the life of being married. Look to Jehovah for guidance so that you will think realistically rather than just romantically. By doing so, you will be more likely to enjoy a successful marriage.
Families that look to Jehovah for guidance are more likely to succeed. "Large Families United in God's Service" is the concluding article of this series.
* The Bible allows only one ground for divorce with the possibility of remarriage, and that is "fornication"—sex relations outside the marriage.—Matthew 19:9.
Home Is the Haven
Helping Your Family to Survive
Proper View of Money
Value of Bible Education
THE STORM OF HAVING A FAMILY, IS IT SIMPLE?
"AND they lived happily ever after." That fairy tale ending applies to fewer and fewer marriages nowadays. The wedding promise to love each other 'for better or for worse as long as both shall live' is all too often just rhetoric. The possibility of having a happy family seems to be a gamble with the odds against it.
Between 1960 and 1990, divorce rates more than doubled in most Western industrialized countries. In some lands they increased fourfold. For example, every year about 35,000 marriages are contracted in Sweden, and about half of them will break up, involving over 45,000 children. Couples cohabiting without marriage split up at an even greater rate, affecting further tens of thousands of children. A similar trend is emerging in countries all over the world, as can be seen from the box.
True, broken families and dissolution of marriages are not new in history. The Code of Hammurabi of the 18th century B.C.E. included laws that allowed divorce in Babylonia. Even the Mosaic Law, instituted in the 16th century B.C.E., permitted divorce in Israel. (Deuteronomy 24:1) However, family bonds have never been weaker than in this 20th century. More than a decade ago, a newspaper columnist wrote: "Fifty years from now, we may not even have any families in the traditional sense. They may have been replaced by collectives of different types." And the trend since then seems to confirm his idea. The family institution has deteriorated so rapidly that the question, "Will it survive?" is becoming increasingly relevant.
Why is it so hard for so many couples to stick to each other and maintain a united family? What is the secret of those who have stuck together during a long life, happily celebrating their silver and golden wedding anniversaries? Incidentally, in 1983 it was reported that a man and a woman in the former Soviet republic of Azerbaijan celebrated their 100th wedding anniversary—at the age of 126 and 116 respectively.
Smashed wedding picture
What Is the Threat?
In many countries some of the grounds for legal divorce are adultery, mental or physical cruelty, desertion, alcoholism, impotence, insanity, bigamy, and drug addiction. However, a more general cause is that the fundamental attitude toward marriage and traditional family life has changed radically, especially during recent decades. Respect for an institution long held sacred has eroded. Greedy producers of music, motion pictures, TV soap operas, and popular literature have glorified so-called sexual freedom, immorality, loose conduct, and a self-centered life-style. They have promoted a culture that has polluted the minds and hearts of young and old alike.
A 1996 poll showed that 22 percent of Americans say that an extramarital affair can sometimes be good for a marriage. A special issue of one of Sweden's biggest newspapers, Aftonbladet, urged women to get a divorce because "it can only be better." Some pop psychologists and anthropologists have even speculated that man is "programmed" by evolution to switch mates every few years. In other words, they are suggesting that extramarital affairs and divorces are natural. Some even argue that a parental divorce may be good for the children, preparing them to cope with their own divorce some day!
Many youths no longer desire to live a traditional family life, with father, mother, and children. "I cannot imagine living all my life with the same partner," is a popular view. "Marriage is like Christmas, just a fairy tale. I just don't believe in it," said an 18-year-old Danish lad. "The feeling is, why bother to live with [men] and wash their socks," Noreen Byrne of the National Women's Council in Ireland declared. "Just go out and play with them . . . A lot of women are deciding they don't need men in order to survive."
One-Parent Households on the Increase
All over Europe this attitude has led to a rapid increase in single motherhood. Some of these single parents are teenagers who feel that an unplanned pregnancy is not a mistake. A few are women who want to raise their child alone. Most are mothers who cohabit with the father for some time, without any plans to marry him. Newsweek magazine ran a cover story last year on the question "The Death of Marriage?" It stated that the percentage of live births outside marriage is increasing rapidly in Europe and that no one seems to care. Sweden may top the list, with half of all babies there born outside marriage. In Denmark and Norway it is close to half, and in France and England, about 1 in 3.
In the United States, two-parent families have declined dramatically in the last few decades. One report says: "In 1960, . . . 9 percent of all children lived in single-parent homes. By 1990, that number had soared to 25 percent. Today, 27.1 percent of all American children are born into single-parent homes, a number that is on the rise. . . . Since 1970, the number of one-parent families has more than doubled. The traditional family is so threatened today that it could be on the verge of extinction, say some researchers."
In countries where the Roman Catholic Church has lost much of its moral authority, single-parent families are on the increase. Fewer than half of Italian households consist of mother, father, and children, and the traditional family is being replaced with childless couples and single-parent households.
The welfare system in some countries actually encourages people not to marry. Single mothers who receive public assistance would lose it if they married. Single mothers in Denmark get additional child-care subsidies, and in some communities, underage mothers get extra cash and have their rent paid for them. Thus, money is involved. Alf B. Svensson claims that a divorce in Sweden costs the taxpayers between 250 thousand and 375 thousand dollars in subsidies, housing allowances, and social assistance.
Churches of Christendom seem to do little or nothing to try to reverse this devastating trend among families. Many pastors and clergymen are wrestling with their own family crises, thus feeling incapable of assisting others. Some even seem to advocate divorce. Aftonbladet of April 15, 1996, reported that pastor Steven Allen from Bradford, England, composed a special divorce ceremony, which he suggests should serve as an official act in all British churches. "It is a service of healing to help someone come to terms with what has happened to them. It helps them realise that God still loves them and releases them from the hurt."