With all the problems and pain, why do people still want to get married? Even though marriage receives so much bad press these days, walking the aisle is still very popular exercise. A recent Louis Harris survey found that 96% of college students want to marry or already are married. Ninety-seven per cent agreed with this statement — “Having close family relationships is a key to happiness.”
So even though about one in four of American adults age eighteen and older are divorced, 4 the possibility of having a good, lasting marriage makes nearly everyone willing to give it a try. Just why is marriage so appealing?
The truth is that no one wants to be alone. Although we make a big deal out of “doing our own thing” and insisting on individual rights, we all long for the security and warmth of an intimate relationship with someone who is crazy about us. We may say we “want to be alone” and desire “some space,” but our stronger desire is to share some space with someone who loves us.
And although sexual attraction is an important part of our desire for intimacy, these longings to connect deeply with another person are not just about sex. This fervent desire to be known and appreciated by someone else is how we were designed in the first place.
Why Do Marriages Fail?
Why is it then that so many people, who want and need to be close to someone, end up divorced, often filled with anger and disappointment? Many who marry attempt to achieve a strong, enduring bond based primarily on emotions. In most relationships the love and acceptance continue as long as the other person is meeting a certain level of expectation. If the feelings are warm, a husband and wife can enjoy one another’s company, overlook a partner’s troubling or annoying traits, communicate adequately, and still express affection.
But when the feelings cool, one or both find they have no reserves or capability to love an obviously imperfect person. Now needs are not met, which causes hurt, which promotes defensiveness, which reduces positive communication, which heightens misunderstanding, which provokes conflict, which fuels anger and bitterness. If forgiveness and reconciliation do not break this downward spiral, the ability to love one another is paralyzed.
This pattern in nearly all relationships may be avoided for awhile as long as the tough issues that provoke selfishness do not exist or are obscured. But sooner or later reality hits. In spite of a couple’s best intentions, they eventually realize that two independent people cannot both have all of their needs met all of the time.
So, How Can You Experience a Better Marriage?
For a relationship to succeed, teamwork is required and both persons need to deny many of their personal wishes. Self-sacrifice must replace selfishness. Sometimes one person in the marriage can do this reasonably well, but eventually patience runs out. Self-sacrifice is not natural; selfishness is. Why is this so?
If we lived in a world where people were perfect, then their marriages would hum along in total harmony, just the way God wanted marriage to work in the first place. But we don’t live in a perfect world. Quite honestly all of us are affected by our tendency toward selfishness and “sin.” What is sin? We often choose to do the wrong things not the right things. We can be selfish, mean, hurtful, bitter, arrogant, unwilling to forgive, and so on. It’s no wonder husbands and wives struggle to get along.
An I-want-my-needs-met attitude in relationships breaks down a necessary spirit of cooperation. The negative cycle begins and continues until intimacy is lost and a marriage begins to crumble.
Let’s face it, we all need help — some inner strength that enables us to love another person the way we must if a marriage is going to have a chance.
Our selfish, sinful behavior not only separates a husband and a wife, but it also separates us from God — our greatest source of help. As the Originator and Designer of marriage, He knows how relationships work. He wants us to first have a relationship with Him, and then look to Him for direction.
Not only does God help us with problems and challenges we face on a daily basis, but He also offers healing for scars and wounds we have collected from the past. For instance, He provides complete forgiveness and cleansing from wrong choices we may have made as teenagers in a relationship with the opposite sex. God loves us and wants us to enjoy the benefits of being His child, which include His help in our marriage.
If you sincerely prayed this, you have begun a relationship with God. What effect can this have on your marriage problems? Now that you know why marriages fail, you now are able to ask God for guidance, for his wisdom and ability to love your spouse. You can have a love-filled marriage. Like all husbands and wives, you will make many mistakes and sometimes you will need to exert strenuous effort to have a great marriage. But, as you rely on Him, God will give you the strength and vision needed to love your mate in a selfless, forgiving manner and experience a better, lasting marriage.