In my last post, I looked at a new and simple way to approach relationships before marriage to give each marriage the best possible foundation for success. I focused especially on getting to know someone for a good, long length of time, ideally 2 years at least, before starting a relationship with them.
However, I was then remembering that even a great foundation is no guarantee of marital success. (I also realised just today that in my previous post I completely forgot to refer to the need for prayer in actually choosing the partner). No matter who we are, no matter our stance in Christ, our groundedness in Him, His word, the Bible, our enemy the devil will ALWAYS be constantly attacking us, and trying to pull us down from any heights we may have attained. Sometimes it will happen that we will endure, or overcome, for years, (and years, and years, …even decades) and then surprisingly capitulate, or compromise. This is something that I remind myself of all the time. As a Christian, I need to guard against complacency. Not only that, but I need to keep fighting, keep pressing ahead in Christ, with ever greater determination. I need to keep crying out to God that He would keep me grounded and rooted in Him.
Relating this to marriage, this is the possibility: your marriage might start off in a blaze of glory, with everything excellent in place. But then over time, months, years, things start degenerating, until you get to the point where your marriage looks hopeless, where it had initially looked so promising.
This scenario is not something to be surprised at. This is the way the devil works. The Bible says that the thief comes only to steal, to kill and to destroy (John 10v10) However, within the same verse Jesus continues (for He is the One speaking) “But I have come that they may have life, and life more abundantly”
So here’s the thing. When you get married, both you and your spouse naturally have hopes and dreams for your marriage. God also has beautiful things planned for marriages generally, and for your marriage specifically. However, the devil also has plans, and these are simply to destroy everything beautiful, everything life-giving, everything tender between you and your spouse. This is not specific to marriage. The devil goes around stealing, killing and destroying wherever he can. However I (and many Christians) believe that the devil has particular interest in attacking marriages. This is because there is great power in unity, when people work together. On the other hand, a broken marriage typically causes great pain and confusion, not only to the two spouses, but also to wider family, such as any children they might have, the wider community, the wider Church. So by successfully breaking apart a marriage, the devil achieves the double aim of breaking the unity of the couple, and also bringing widespread pain and confusion to them and those connected with them.
Oh, I’ve just noticed how I’ve already mentioned the devil a number of times in this post. Seriously, I can’t believe that apparently some Christians are debating whether the devil actually exists. Admittedly, this discussion is particular to Christians in a realm of Christianity very different to mine. In fact, realistically speaking, we do not observe the same faith in any way shape or form. In theory we subscribe to the same Holy Book and we worship the same God, but that is all in theory, and for some of us the faith itself is more theoretical than for others… but perhaps this belongs on my other blog.
Anyway, my point is that once we have made the effort to structure our relationships effectively before marriage, that is the beginning, not the end. That merely gives us the potential to have a great marriage (or the foundation, if you like!)
I should also make it clear that God is able to turn around any relationship foundation. Even if you have made the very worst choices imaginable, in your choice of spouse, and how you get married, God is able to turn those choices around, unless the marriage fundamentally disobeys His laws, like if you try to marry someone else’s spouse. However, the whole point of this entire blog is about trying to get an excellent foundation from the outset, rather than having to correct a faulty foundation. What makes this blog unique, in my experience of Christian marriage resources, is that I thought to myself that an amazing, earth-shatteringly beautiful marriage cannot merely be a matter of “luck”; that there must be things that you can do beforehand, approaches that you can take to maximise your chances of success in having a phenomenal marriage. (Most other resources, on the other hand, focus on life when you are already married, and when things are already less exciting than you had imagined before marriage.)
So then, after carefully structuring your relationship before marriage, being very careful to know this person before actually starting a relationship with them, and then being very careful to build a foundation of friendship for your marriage, once you actually get married, things might start playing up. It could be that your spouse, despite their excellent character, starts acting in a disappointing way. Because the devil is constantly attacking us, and tempting us, and pulling us beyond our limits, it is a very real possibility that countless people have experienced, that character that genuinely started off as being excellent and outstanding, slowly degenerates over time to become mediocre. I guess though, that that time spent preparing for marriage would still be invaluable as follows: Most of all, you know that this person was excellent before you married them. You know that the marriage was in line with God’s word and God’s will from the outset. So you don’t have to beat yourself up, asking yourself whether you made a mistake: “Did I really hear from God?” Rather you can go to God and intercede on behalf of your spouse, asking Him to restore them to real fire, and fervour, and pursuit of all that is of God.
10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.