"There is no more lovely, friendly or charming relationship, communion or company, than a good marriage." ~Martin Luther

Sunday, 6 November 2011

What’s happening to marriage?

Today we shall begin our discussion on Selwyn Hughes (SH) book- “Marriage as God intended”. This chapter addresses why marriages break up.  Please note that throughout the book discussion over the next couple of weeks we would be picking key points from the chapters whilst adding in our own thoughts and not rewriting the whole book so I’ll highly recommended like I did last time that you get the book.

Let’s go there…. (I just had to chip that

Ok so I won’t go into all the scary statistics but it is not news today that a lot of marriages are in trouble. We have all heard about Kim K's 72 days of marriage resulting in divorce. What a shame! A lot of marriages around us are breaking up and the numbers keep increasing by the day. Which worries me because it shows that marriage and family are becoming less and less important to people.

SH highlights 4 main reasons why marriages are going downhill:

  1. Society’s increasing acceptance of temporary marriages
A long long time ago, society did not approve of unmarried couples living together or people getting divorced. This is not the case anymore. It is no longer a case of “till death do us part” but rather it is now “till divorce us do part”. A number of people enter into marriage with divorce as an “escape route” at the back of their minds you know, just in case the marriage doesn’t “work out”. SH says "there is something about holding in the mind the idea of an “escape route” that is antithetical to a deep and fulfilling relationship."

Nowadays, our society has adopted a throwaway mentality. From throwaway products to throwaway friendship which has now produced throwaway marriages.

  1. Inadequate preparation of marriages
A number of people about to get married do not get the adequate preparation required either from their parents or church. Most people spend most of their time and resources preparing for the wedding day but cannot be bothered to prepare for the lifelong journey ahead of them.

Society, churches or even the courts should give more attention to the subject of premarital counseling before conducting wedding ceremonies. This will at least force couples to attend these sessions. SH personally would not conduct a wedding ceremony until the couple attend his premarital counseling sessions. He says apart from adequately preparing a couple for marriage, premarital counseling also helps ascertain if a couple should be getting married in the first place, or maybe postpone the wedding date till later.

If only more parents and churches will treat this matter of premarital counselling more seriously and enforce these classes. Churches and religious bodies are not meant to simply conduct weddings but to nurture marriages and reinforce family life.

  3. Sex before marriage-
oh yesss…the controversial subject. This is one area where more and more single people dabble into and say “what’s the big deal?” Even professing Christians are not “carrying last” when it comes to premarital sex.

SH discovered during counseling sessions with married couples that about 30% of couples he counselled, whose marital problems didn’t have to do with finances or in law palaver or the usual factors had to do with premarital sex. These couples never dealt with the spiritual principle they had broken during their courtship days. 

SH pointed out that fornication, (yes lets call it by it's name) undermines the very foundation on which a marriage must be built and unless necessary and important steps are taken to clear up the conflict which the act of fornication creates, then the marriage is wide open to problems. 

The bible clearly speaks against fornication/sexual impurity. For reference you can check 1 Corinthians 6:9-20, Galatians 5:19-21, Ephesians 5:3-12.

Many couples assume that even if they were involved in premarital sex and they still get married the matter is resolved. Unfortunately once a spiritual principle has been violated it cannot just be swept under the carpet but must be dealt with by confession and repentance. This involves confessing the sin to God, asking for forgiveness and asking each other for forgiveness. SH says this may sound simple but "when done in true humility and genuine repentance it removes the seeds of disintegration that lie at the base of the marriage". This brings a new atmosphere into the marriage where trust rules.

  1. Changing roles
One of the most destructive elements in a marriage is the failure of the partners involved to identify, determine and mutually assign areas of responsibility. Nowadays wives are taking over the fundamental roles of husbands, and vice versa. God gave husbands the power to direct the affairs of the family, be the head of the home and leader of the relationship while wives are meant to submit to that leadership. This is another highly debated topic but will be addressed in the next chapter.

  1. Romantic love- not enough
The last cause SH identified as contributing to the downfall of marriages is the attempt to build marriage on nothing more than romantic love. Don’t get it twisted, romantic love is important in a marriage BUT romantic love by itself is not a sufficiently strong base on which to build a marriage.

Marriage requires a quality of love that can stand up to the tests and difficulties it produces. When you ask some people “so why are u getting married”, they say “oh we love each other”, “I like the way he/she makes me feel”. I say “Shuo” (in my Nigerian accent), are you for real? My friend, you are on a looong thing o!

SH says when people stand at the altar expressing their vows, there is no assurance that five years later they will feel the same kind of love they felt as they walked up (or is it down) the aisle. The love that survives the problems of marriage (trust me, there are problems in marriage) is a love that has in it a degree of commitment and not just a flush of feeling. Marriage requires hard work and unfortunately many people in today’s society are not accustomed to working through problems (this takes us back to that escape route mentality). 

This type of love is called Agape love also known as unconditional love also known as God’s love. God has laid out a lot of good stuff in the bible on how to build a good and happy marriage and ours can be a happy one if we learn to practice the biblical principles that relate to it.

So what other reasons do you think result to marriages breaking up? One that readily comes to mind is not doing your due diligence before getting hitched. Checking out the person’s background and family, discovering how your "love" deals with different situation in life and also how they handle money. 

Please share your thoughts on the points above and also any other reasons you can think of. Thanks! 

photo credits- google images


  1. I really like your additional comment about checking out people before marriage takes place. In the 'olden' days, this step was a must, probably because people married from near each other. These days most marriages crumble because parents failed to do a background check.

    Well done...

  2. Nothing is more responsible for marriage break ups as we know it today than the crisis of identity people are facing the world over!

    Men and women go into marriages without really understanding who they are, which actually defines the roles they play in their marriage.

    If a man understands that his duty is not just to protect and sustain his wife, but to LOVE her, he will not be destablised in the event that his wife earns her than him or by virtue of her job, can protect him instead of vice versa!

    If the woman understands that her role as a helpmate is not just to support the man, she will also RESPECT him in building a successful marriage!

    More of my thoughts as we go on!

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Love your "analysis"
    My fav line is
    "When you ask some people “so why are u getting married”, they say “oh we love each other”, “I like the way he/she makes me feel”. I say “Shuo” (in my Nigerian accent), are you for real? My friend, you are on a looong thing o!"
    Funny, but true.

    Marriage is work. Hard work.
    May God give us the wisdom we need to build marriages that glorify Him.

  5. 4 and 2 I think are the main culprits. Adequate preparation and knowledge of roles and expectations are key.

  6. I just read a book that dealt with this topic. Marriage used to be contractual...transactional where the male gets a mate and offsprings that will help with farming or fishing or other tasks, while the female got social and financial security. These days, marriage is used to fill emotional voids. When ur partner no I longer fills that void, there is an overwhelming need to leave and find someone who will.

  7. People enter marriages for the wrong reasons. I really like your analysis. They were funny, but so true. You have to know who you are marrying, the family and background. I think counseling is one if the most important thing people miss out these days. Like you said, they are busy planning the wedding not their life as husband and wife.

  8. That part about "carrying last" made me laugh out loud.. and its the sad truth.
    All points stated are valid ones, that anyone seeking to have a successful marriage must work with.
    One i can think of, is people not knowing/developing themselves as individuals. When you get married you are supposed to add more to the other person, and not take more, if though they "love" you. You shouldn't have a draining effect on their life.

  9. Very happy I read this. I've learned more on this inexhaustible issue. Thanks for sharing Sis.

    - LDP

  10. this post is definitely on point!
    1. this is definitely a problem in our age. like you rightly said, back in the day, everyone looked down on divorce, so even if you wanted to, the fact that you would be a social outcast of sorts kept you in the marriage. now, if the man keeps leaving his dirty boxers on the floor, not only is the woman ready to leave, but her best friend is there to pack her bags and worse still her dad is outside the door with the car engine on and ready to go!
    2. this is another definite truth. the images and stories we hear about marriages on tv and from other people is not an exact image of what marriage is all about, and unfortunately, most people enter marriage only to receive the shock of their life. i am still quite unsure why, as a christian, you would look to God for guidance in everything else (career, job, house, friends, etc) BUT in something that can basically determine how the rest of your life goes, we turn away from Him who has the manual (after all, He manufactured marriage)
    3. it has always been my firm belief that one (of the many) reasons God does not desire fornication for us is because it keeps us men and women from comparing our spouses to men and women we have had in the past. indoubtedly, if your spouse, who is trying his/her best, does not live up to some chic/dude from the past, then problems are bound to ensue
    4. i have to say that as a former Ms. Independent, on of the most freeing realizations I had was when i realized us women actually get the better deal. Let the man lead, you go shopping! :). but seriously though, food for thought: there are many single mothers out there, as well as single fathers (though the latter is not as much). But how come we never hear about problem children from single father homes: Because the head is still there. Even though the body (the woman) is absent, but the head is still there. When the body, whose job is to digest food, move around, and do all kinds of things, now attempts also to think and plan ahead, it is not that this is impossible, but it is very difficult, and unfortunately some other bodily duties will be neglected.
    5. all i can say to this is AMEN! if more of us recognized this, it will definitely go a long way in helping us pick the right mate.

    sorry for the long post, but this is a definite passion of mine, thank you for sharing these thoughts!

  11. Thanks Rita. Yes I wonder why people don't do these nowadays. They are in a hurry or something?

  12. You have touched on the next topic which I am about to post now. In fact you have summarised it already. Bros, you are in the spirit :)

  13. You can say that again o... Marriage is hard work!

    Amen to your prayer!

  14. It shocks me when people don't take time out to prepare for the lifelong commitment ahead of them.

  15. You are so right...knowing our roles in marriage helps a lot.

    Sadly no man or woman can actually fill that void in our lives only God can.

  16. True one, BSNC, a lot of people are going into marriage with ulterior motives and when the trials come they want to exit.

  17. That is a valid point OluSimeon, we have a lot of people acting as liabilities and not assets in marriage

  18. You are welcome LDP :) Hope to see more of you here

  19. Wow thanks for the detailed comments and addressing each point one by one. You are so right on all counts. The next post is up :) Will love to know your thoughts. Thanks!


Please share your thoughts or questions with us