LOVE AND MARRIAGE

Venerable CNN interviewer Larry King recently announced he is divorcing his 8th wife.  That may be some sort of world record.  I hear he will be meeting Elizabeth Taylor next year in the ‘finals’ to break the tie.   If you have been married and divorced 8 times, you may just want to consider that the problem may not be that you married the wrong woman, or in King’s case women.

I remember Dr Phil ragging on a guy who was struggling with his 3rd marriage.  He asked him the question, “Now Billy Bob, what is the one thing all 3 of your failed marriages have had in common?”

“Uh, I dunno.”

“YOU dummy, you are the one thing all of your marriages have had in common.  You, are the problem!”

I watched Larry King ‘being’ interviewed by someone else on the subject of love and marriage.  I was surprised that such an otherwise intelligent TV personality was such a dunce when it came to understanding relationships.  Without getting into the specifics of it, he sounded like a 15 year old high school kid explaining the finer details of dating hot babes.

In 1900 the percentage of marriages that ended in divorce was about 1 in 100.  By 1925 it rose to 4 in 100.  By 1950 it reached 10 in 100.  By 1975  it had exploded to 40 in 100.  Today it is generally regarded that half of all marriages will end in divorce.  Some will be quick to point out that in the last 10 years the divorce rate is actually dropping.  That is true… because more and more people are not getting married in the first place and just opting to live together.   For that matter the divorce rate in Canada is the lowest in Quebec.  That’s because the vast majority of young couples now fore go the institution of marriage completely.  60% of all children in Quebec are now being born out of wedlock.  You did not read that incorrectly – 60%.  Quebec is now being regarded as the world’s first post-marriage society.

People clearly view marriage differently than they used to.  By many it is no longer regarded as a life long commitment but as a agreement that can be cancelled like a cable TV contract.  In fact, some of those cable contracts are harder to get out of.  Most couples that I talk to come up with the same reason; “I married the wrong person.”  (I guess that was the one thing that Adam never had to listen to… about the man Eve could have married.)  Personally, I am not convinced.  I don’t believe for a minute that a hundred years ago half of the population just endured bad marriages to the wrong person.

If people married the wrong person the first time, then presumably they would know exactly what kind of person they should marry the next time.  Then we should see the success rate climb dramatically.  That is not the case.  67 percent of second marriages end in divorce and a whooping 74 percent of third marriages.  No, we’ve got it all wrong.  Marriages are failing today because people are incredibly selfish and have unreasonable expectations for their spouse.  Even if they admit that they were happy at one time, couples will often say, “The love has gone out of our marriage.”  I don’t think they know what love is.  Love is not a fuzzy feeling you get in your stomach when you are near someone… that is called acid reflux.  Love is a decision!  It is a commitment to put the other person ahead of yourself.  When couples commit to the happiness of their partner, they in turn will always discover happiness themselves.  Modern marriages are often the opposite, with the partners trying to extract what they can get for themselves from the relationship.  That was never the original intent of marriage.

The great German pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said, “It is not your love that will sustain your marriage, but your marriage that will sustain your love.”   He was referringto the miracle of marriage, that God joins two people together and gives them the grace to live together for the rest of their lives.  It is not often is easy.  Sometimes it feels like work, but the rewards for grinding out the hard times pay off in the end.  I was talking with a non-christian friend the other day who had recently gone through a divorce.  He said, “I think most people are surprised when they realize that divorced life did not make them any happier.  It’s not what it’s cracked up to be.”

If your marriage is struggling you need to know that as long as there is a God in heaven there is hope.  There are lots of great resources out there.  Rent the movie ‘Fireproof’ and watch it together’.  It is a brilliant representation of the struggles that most couples face today.  Sure there are a few cheesy moments, but the underlining prescription on how to make love a ‘decision’ is very well done.

Someone a lot smarter than me once said, “Love never fails” (1 Cor 13:8).  We just need to learn to believe it.

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25 Responses to LOVE AND MARRIAGE

  1. Kendra says:

    I am happily married to my husband who is my best friend. He will always come first. Marriage is not easy but it is a journey. Both people must commit to communicate and stay in each others lives. I think marriages end in divorce because the people don’t change when they get married. They keep going out to bars, going to separate parties etc. Your partner should be the most important person in your life!
    What you say is so true, I just wish people would learn this before they get married.

  2. Gord says:

    Even at 90, Mickey Rooney still doesn’t get much recognition. He has been married 8 times. We are all unique and I think when we start throwing statistics around on individuals, it’s a little unfair. Mickey’s 8th marriage has lasted longer than the previous 7 combined. And no, he’s not confined to a rest-home or anything; he was actually playing a part on the stage in London last year. He now lists “reading the bible” as one of his favourite things to do.

    Even I feel a little unfairly criticized by the argument. I’m in my 3rd marriage. In my first, I was not yet a Christian. When my wife committed adultery and ran off, it was over. In my second, still not a Christian, my wife became extremely abusive (mental and physical) after about 10 years. I hung on as long as possible (another mind-numbing 7 years). Becoming a Christian, I thought would help the marriage. Not! To save my sanity, I left and gave her all the assets of the marriage and a good chunk of my pension. Was that wrong? She was seriously abusive and refused to go to counselling.

    My third wife and I are incredibly happy Christians. Similar values and always putting the needs of the other first. Our mutual expectations are centred around good fundamental Christian values.

    So where there is a vision of a better way, there is hope. I don’t look at my past marriages as my fault, but I do look at them as my lessons.

    I think some people have not studied love much. I mean, we talk about all the time. Every movie, tv show, book ……….. most human activity revolves around something called love.

    I’m sure Pastor Mark must have taught about the Greek words for love and what they mean. Storge, Philos, Eros, and Agape. In the Bible, agape was the only word used. When it was said to love one another, agape is what was used. Too long for this blog. But it makes a good study if you are interested.

    To my way of thinking, most of our society puts too much emphasis on “eros” and very little on “agape” and that’s what is wrong with so many relationships.

  3. Mark Hughes says:

    I forgot about Mickey Rooney! That would make a far more interesting 3 way final. There is always a danger talking about this subject because people feel judged. There is a very good chance that half my readers are divorced. To remain silent on the subject is far more unfair than to step on some toes. Marriage is sacred and entered into too lightly and too ignorantly today. Gord is right, marriage will remian on the endangered list until people figure out Agape love is. Of the 4 types of love; Agape (sacrificial), Phileo (friendship/brotherly), Storge (familial) and Eros (sexual)… only eros is not mentioned in the bible.

  4. Tara says:

    You’re totally right, Pastor Mark, about people feeling judged. But I’m behind you 100%. It’s your job to speak God’s truth and that’s all you’re doing. You’d be wrong if you didn’t. You’re not judging, you’re speaking the Truth.
    I usually only write on here when it’s about marriage because I am EXTREMELY passionate about it and the sanctity of it. And I’ve been praying that you would speak about it again! It was God’s original covenant, wasn’t it? Marriage is WAY too disposable these days. We live in a “me now” society and divorce is glorified in the media.
    I do not believe in divorce and I believe in God to heal it. He hates it, so why WOULDN’T He do everything in His power to heal your marriage?
    And yes, I fully believe that He WILL heal it even if your spouse commits adultery, abuses alcohol, leaves and says they are never coming back (or whatever else you can add to this list). And I believe that He WILL heal it even if divorce papers are signed, sealed and delivered. If you are willing to forgive and pray and obey God then there is NO force on earth great enough to keep Him from doing it.
    We make it WAY too easy for satan to steal our spouses and marriages. Divorce is NOT the only option when a husband or wife leaves. If someone stole your child you would not just give up and let the thief keep them. Even if it was a rebellious 18 year old who made the decision himself to leave you forever. You would still pray that he would come home and then embrace him when he did (hello – Prodigal Son?). We just hand our spouses over. It’s sad. You may be the only one praying for them and praying for their salvation!
    I’m glad you wrote on this, Pastor Mark. I left comments months ago about marriage and regret not putting this link up. It’s really helped me in waiting for God to bring my husband back.

    http://www.rejoiceministries.org And there’s FAQ and devotionals too!And they are very bible-based which is why I like it.

    And if it can help someone else who is going through it, then it’s worth it, because God used a friend of mine to lead me to this website and it has really really really blessed me. I hope it’s ok to post a link. It’s a good website – check it out!

  5. Betty says:

    Very interesting, Pastor Mark!
    The movie, FIREPROOF is an awesome movie.

    I take relationships very serious, so when I was 15 years old, I started to pray, for my future husband and asked God, to tell me and help me to know without a doubt, [when I would meet the man, He had planned for me,] that this was the right man for me, so to make a long story short, God answered my prayers and the first time I met him, happened to be a blind date, through my friend who also knew this man, now my husband, moved here from South America, three years earlier then I did from another country, in North America and even with our hard times and far more good times, we celebrated our 18th. wedding anniversary, this past March and I can honestly say, with Jesus living in us, it just gets better.

  6. Christie Braun says:

    It is OK to be single as well, for your whole life if you want.

  7. Evelyn Bennett says:

    Now that I am approaching 40 I ask myself regularly why I am reluctant to settle down. The men out there are so worried about what women think of them that they make a false impression. I am looking for men who are not afraid of being real.

    I finally make connections with men and not focus on the physical anatomy. The foundation of a good marriage is proper communication when you become friends.

    It definitely will make for an interesting wedding night.

  8. Isaac says:

    Will all the divorces and seperations, and nonsense I’ve seen in my life, I’ve really had to fight off bitterness about it all, especially when I hear full grown adults using childish excuses for divorcing, and not taking responsibility for their own portion of it.

    I’ve mentioned this before, but even a simple thing as seeing a married couple worship together when I first started going to Church, had an incredible inpact on me, and spoke to me louder than the message.

    I guess what I’m getting at is that for me, the couples around me have had a large impact both negative and positive. And I’m sure I’m not the only one. Thanks.

  9. SM says:

    Just because the divorce rate was lower years ago doesn’t mean that they understood marriage. Divorce was such a taboo and many people ,especially women, were stuck in unhealthy relationships.

  10. Wanda says:

    Pastor Mark I am so happy you recommended “FIREPROOF” the movie.
    I have a copy and absolutely love it.
    I have been with the same man for 12 years and I can attest that at times, it is downright hard not to strangle him…lol!!!
    But….. I always go back to when we first got together…things were fantastic ….and there were reasons God lead me to this man. We have 2 beautiful children now and I feel so blessed by God.

    Everyone reading this. If you are struggling with your spouse…rent “FIREPROOF”…better yet, buy it and pass it around to your friends.
    God loves you and you are no surprise to him!

  11. can't help but notice says:

    There is a woman who lives close, who says she is not in love with her husband,and is staying with him because she is trying to follow Gods laws of no divorce, or waiting for her husband to ask for one.
    He loves her, she treats him like crap,talks behind his back about how unhappy she is and refuses to go to counseling. They have an almost 2 year old boy who is constantly whining and crying and throwing fits.
    Do you think the child can feel the tension she has so selfishly created? From the minute I wake up in the morning, I can hear him cry. I know every child is different, but NONE of my kids wake up so miserable everyday….
    She is more concerned with gossiping on the phone, and creating drama in our neighborhood.
    Its hard not to talk with her, as she is friendly enough, but I always hear what she has said about other peoples business, from someone else!
    My point is, again, do you think her child feels the lack of connection she has with her husband? It pains me to see this situation every day, and as a Christian, is there anything I can do to help? I have already distanced myself from her, as she tries to control everything and everyone around her, but I did explain to her that she needs to try to focus on her husband, as we were spending too much time together.
    Well, hell hath no fury like a woman scorned……but I wish her child could be comforted a little. Any advice?

  12. Christie Braun says:

    now who’s gossiping….

  13. can't help but notice says:

    I am sorry if it seems like I am gossiping, but I REALLY just want to know what the CHRISTIAN solution is.
    SHE has ASKED me, but I am still learning about Gods laws, and can see the upside and the downsides of her marriage. I simply don’t know.I suggested she at least get through the first 5 years of the child’s life, and then to re-evaluate the situation. These are the most important years. Was this a correct answer?
    It pains me to think she is suffering in purgatory, and seeing as this is an OPEN FORUM for examples of other Christian living, I really need to know if we as Christians should be listening to the little voices of our children more. What if staying with your husband (in general) isn’t good for you or your kids….are you committed to this marriage even if it brings you 25 years of misery, and bitter grown up children who do not know the meaning of true love?
    I would like to know what Christie Braun thinks…..

  14. Tara says:

    can’t help but notice: it’s obvious you’re concerned. i know God doesn’t want us unhappy, etc etc etc etc. but sometimes that’s an excuse to leave a marriage (but i’m not saying that’s the case here). if we pray according to His will, we have what we asked of Him. i forget what verse that is, but it’s in there. God’s will is ALWAYS that a husband and wife be married for life. He will heal a marriage if we go to Him and ask. He wants us to have faith. He does things that are IMPOSSIBLE for us to do.
    also, God created marriage before He gave Adam and Eve children. i think having a child is all the more reason to pray for the marriage. divorce will trickle down the generations and divorce will harm the child, too.
    my advice to you is this: the best thing you can do for your friend is pray for her and her marriage and her husband. i think you should still see her because you can be a good example of God’s love to her. We are supposed to lead people by our example, as hard as that may be sometimes, when the person is hard to love!
    AND…please give her the website i mentioned above, it has really blessed me! and personally, i would encourage her that God WILL heal her marriage. she needs to focus on her relationship with Him and not try to change her husband or convice him.
    don’t be discouraged if you hear more bad things from her, just keep praying!

  15. Sally says:

    Sometimes divorce is beyond your control. If you have done all you can do to make the marriage work, gone for Christian counselling and your husband still choses to leave you for the other woman (or the other man). You really have no choice. When I married I thought it was for life but it didn’t work out that way. Now it is what we do with what we are left with that counts. I can honestly say that God is the Great redeemer and He restores what the locusts have eaten.
    You are absolutely right Pastor Mark when you say that people are incredibly selfish and have unrealistic expectations of their spouses. Unfortunately, society still advocates “well if he or she doesn’t meet my needs or measures up to what I expect then I will get divorced and find someone who will” which of course is the biggest lie of all because Jesus Christ is the only one who can fill that empty spot within us.
    I also think the media has a big influence over young people today. I have known some people who had chosen to have a baby at the same time their favorite movie/rock star was having one.
    Right now it seems that big celebrity weddings are in. So maybe we will see more marriages, but I am sure the underlying theme will still be, if it doesn’t work out, I can still always chose the divorce option.
    My one big concern is that young people chose not to marry because their parents have been divorced which is the case with one of my sons at the moment.

  16. can't help but notice says:

    Dear Tara,
    You really are open to healing…yourself and others. Because of this I know God will give you what you want in your life. The trick is, learning how to persevere how long he takes to fulfill this.
    You have reminded me that God does not want us to forever be unhappy-suffering is a part of everyday life. It’s the Christian that has FAITH, that gets through it. Not thinking of easy ways of ending our suffering quicker. That would defeat gods plan, and WE are not in control of Gods plan.
    It’s our own choice to decide whether we want to be stubborn and stick to our own ways of creating quick solutions which are making us miserable, or to finally let go and ACTUALLY SUBMIT to God.
    People that have to be in control of everything, (and I don’t mean what they are having for dinner) can’t possibly understand how to heal themselves until they actually leave things up to God. They control their lives to the point that they shut out all opportunities for God to enter their lives and heal them.
    Thanks Tara, I will trust you and your advice! :)
    Sally: I believe that Gods will is to FIND the right person to be married to for life. If you have been married for part of your life, and your spouse leaves you, or dies, God will provide you with ANOTHER partner so that you will not be alone.
    Some people cheat themselves and others by settling for who happens to be in front of them at the time of lust.
    Do young people understand that having sex with someone before marriage comes along with making excuses as to why they can’t marry them? Don’t they see how they will be creating uncomfortable situations? I think your son and his girlfriend are just looking for an excuse to have sex before marriage.
    Why doesn’t the church give counseling to all couples during their dating phase, like they do in marriage counseling?Proper dating requirements and practice respecting each other could help them decide whether they even like who the other person is.
    If you don’t believe in empowering your partner, you can’t possbly be in love, and any sexual relationship is one sided, and a BIG SIN.
    Don’t you think?
    Lying to your girlfriend so you can get laid on a regular basis SUCKS.
    Don’t you you deserve more?

  17. Tara says:

    can’t help but notice -
    thanks so much for the encouraging words! after a tough day it is very nice to hear, trust me! :)
    i have to disagree with one thing, though. the Bible is very clear on a divorced person getting married again. (Mark 10:11 – 12, Luke 16:18). and as far as who divorced who, that’s just semantics. God’s truth is the same. He hates divorce. in Hosea God healed an impossible marriage. He never gave Hosea permission to marry someone else. i truly believe, that even if your spouse leaves it is up to you to pray for the healing of your marriage and for God to change and heal you and your marriage. yes it’s hard, yes it seems impossible, but He WILL do it. anything else that we believe is not the truth. i know divorce is out of our control and we can’t force our spouses to stay. that’s absolutely true. but God can do the impossible. He will change a heart, He will heal a marriage. He is in control of everything.
    i don’t believe that if we find someone else, it’s from God. He wouldn’t contradict Himself. He won’t provide us with another partner, He will touch our marriage and heal it if we are willing to let Him and wait for His timing, like you said.
    anyways, just had to put that out there!

  18. Jasmine says:

    “Love never fails”. It’s something that we need to remind ourselves of every day, not just in marriages but in any relationship. It reminds us that God’s supernatural love that is within us can overcome anything. We are human; we are weak and completely ineffective without His power that enables us to glorify Him in our everyday circumstances when we don’t feel so loving towards others. God and His love never fails us, we fail Him; marriages don’t fail, we fail the marriage. It is easy to blame the other person for how things have turned out because it is human nature to blind ourselves to our own contributions to the problem. It is always our own decision to give love, grace and mercy to the other person, and God will grace us with His power to do this only AFTER we make the decision to align our will with His will and give the other person the love, grace and mercy that would glorify God in our specific situations.

  19. Sally says:

    I am not sure that I agree with much that has been said on just praying and that God will restore the marriage. I prayed for over 5 yrs and even reconcilled with my husband twice but he chose to leave again for the other woman. The point was that he wanted to have two women in his life. The Lord specifically said to me that I was free to leave. God does not want us to live in an abusive situation with such emotional turmoil of not knowing if he was leaving or staying. And yes I am the first to admit that I played my part in the marriage breakdown. We are not perfect people just forgiven. That being said there is a time to let go as Ecclesiastes 3:6 states. Not sure that I would ever marry again. God is now my husband and there isn’t a man alive that can compare to Him!
    Concerning my son and his partner. I would only like them to marry if they both make a commitment to the Lord wholeheartedly first; as I know the stats on the divorce rate of couples who marry after they have lived together first. I have two wonderful grandsons and would hate to have their parents separate so my prayer is that their Mom and Dad get right with God first!

  20. Victoria says:

    I very much agree with you and am in a similar situation-not married yet, have 3 kids, and am going for marriage counseling FIRST with my pastor. Never been married to the man that gave me 3 boys. Been living in sin I suppose….did they have ceremonies before Christ? Were Mary and Joseph actually married? Or did he just escort her to Bethleham as her boyfriend? How did poor people have money to marry back then?
    Now I am trying to get right with God, and can plan a nice gathering. I also feel I am more mature, and can handle making it official.

  21. Sally says:

    That is wonderful Victoria! You are taking the steps in the right direction. God is a good God. He forgives and redeems no matter what we have done. The most important thing is recognizing your need to get right with the Lord. I hope that you have made Him (Jesus Christ) your Lord and Saviour. Once that is accomplished, begin to read the Word of God, the Bible. You will grow in your relationship with the Lord and you will get wisdom for your particular situation. I pray that your partner will be on board with you also.

  22. Victoria says:

    Thanks for your support Sally,
    On June 11/2011 I will be officially unified with my life partner, and we will finally be able to admit we are grown up! The most difficult part of uniting with another person is being willing to let go of your own ways of doing things, and respecting you and your partners differences in opinion. This took some practice…….but
    you can always agree to disagree!
    God Bless all of you on this site!

  23. Theo says:

    I have been reading the comments on love and marriage. We have been married for just over 29 years. We have been through some very tough times, but in all have never forgotten about God’s love and mercy. The first line about the first miracle is that Jesus was invited to the wedding. How many people invite Jesus to the wedding but then seem to ignore what he has to offer. Someone told me that she was very fond of her husband. Whatever happened to LOVE. For the last six and a half months I have been off on disablity. It sometimes has been a strain, but I like said before, God is still very much part of our marriage.

  24. Kay says:

    Hi Tara,

    I didn’t know there was anyone else out there who believes the Word of God when it says that there is no remarriage acceptable to God while a covenant spouse is still alive. He calls it adultery, and he goes on to say that no adulterers will inherit the Kingdom of Heaven. What does that mean to many today who call themselves Christians, yet are in adulterous marriages?

  25. apt says:

    we have arrange marriage, i m 40 y, while my wife is 26, difficult to manage, my wife want divorce , i want to maintain the marriage, but for her happiness, i m going to divorce her, she wana to re marry to male of her age. what should i do, sincere advise from good friends.