I was speaking with someone recently about her friend’s marriage troubles; we’ll call this friend “Samantha.” Samantha’s story broke my heart. Essentially Samantha feels neglected and emotionally abused. To top it off, Samantha strongly suspects her husband of cheating.
Whenever I hear stories like this, my first reaction is to thank God for my wife, with whom I’ve never had to face these issues. Then the pragmatic side of me kicks in and wonders: what went wrong and how can we prevent marriages from becoming like Samantha’s?
In Samantha’s case, she was in a relationship, got pregnant, decided to get married, and then had another baby. Also, though Samantha is a Christian, her husband is not.
Two Bible verses come to mind, 1 Corinthians 7:2 and 2 Corinthians 6:14.
1 Corinthians 7:2
“But because of the temptation of sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband.” (ESV)
Here Paul is teaching that marriage is the proper place for the expression of sexual desires. In today’s culture, this is viewed as outdated, but stories like Samantha’s show that this teaching is still relevant today. When people give into sexual temptation without a marriage commitment, they put themselves at risk for certain issues. First, you could end up with an unwanted pregnancy that ties you to a person that you really don’t want to be with. Second, despite due diligence, you could end up with an STD. Third, sexual relationships often cause emotional attachments that cause people to stay in relationships even though they are dysfunctional. Each of these issues, if realized, decrease the likelihood of a happy marriage.
2 Corinthians 6:14
“Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers…” (ESV)
Whether you’re a Christian or not, you should take this advice. A marriage is almost certain to struggle where each person has conflicting views on fundamental issues. When it comes to marriage counseling for example, it is very important that a married couple agree on where they will seek advice. As Christians, we look to pastors, elders or deacons. If your spouse isn’t a Christian, he or she won’t want to submit to such counsel. If issues are left unresolved, again, that will decrease the likelihood of a happy marriage.
This is helpful advice for singles or people who are dating, but what about Samantha, what should she do? First, I don’t believe that divorce is necessarily the answer, even though Samantha’s husband might have been unfaithful. God meant marriage to be a lifelong commitment (Matthew 19:4-6). Also, Divorce can be emotionally and financially devastating to each person and it will negatively impact their children. Second, I believe that nothing is beyond God’s power. God can sometimes save us from a situation that we got ourselves into when we ignored His advice.
Before Samantha throws in the towel, I pray that she makes a genuine effort to save her marriage through reconciliation, instead of following today’s trend which views divorce as harmlessly as it views returning a shirt that didn’t fit.