– What is marriage?
– What is the reason why so many marriages fall apart?
The Bible says that a woman and a man joined and walked together through life to choose common goals, to support each other, to have similar interests, to understand each other, and to worship God together. However, it is not so easy in today’s world.
I am a husband for fifteen years already, I have two children and quite a lot of experience in this field. I also recognize as a personal success the help I was able to provide in saving other marriages. I was with many of my friends in their most difficult moments. Conversations, support and advice in numerous cases led to the rescue of the relationship and its repair. I also participated in successful divorce mediations. The success in this case was to get the quarrelling couples to go into divorce by mutual agreement of the parties, so that neither of them would suffer. It is probably a failure that there was a divorce, instead of solving the problems. Unfortunately, no one can be forced to love.
It is funny when people who are no longer married and who do not have children and those that have led to the demise of their marriages try to speak about this topic. The latter can best advise how to break a marriage, and less often how to make it survive the crisis. I have fought many battles for the survival of my marriage and I can proudly say that it lasts. However, I can’t be sure that this will always be the case. Staying married depends on both of the spouses.
I would like to dedicate this chapter to the relationship between man and woman. If someone has chosen to live alone or is living alone now, the advice I’ll write here can be used in relationships with friends or family. All these relationships – as Jesus taught – should be based on one principle – on love. Whether this love is directed to the spouse, neighbour, colleague, friend – it really does not matter. Although it obviously differs in detail, because we love our neighbour or parents in different ways, and our spouse in a different one. But it does not change the fact that we should direct this love to everyone and care for it.
Some time ago, when I was falling asleep, I was thinking about what marriage is. The next morning I woke up with a reply. It was a thought: marriage is two people holding a microphone in the courtroom and accusing each other. Nowadays, the sad thing is that often the spouses are hateful towards each other. What is the reason for this? There is one reason and, unfortunately, few people pay close attention to it. It is Satan who is the perpetrator – the father of all evil and lies, who wants the smallest cell of society to cease to exist. There is a great swarm of evil around us. The forces of darkness want us to turn our eyes from Jesus who is the Creator and the continuator of love. Anyone who is engaged by Satan in a marital dispute or any other dispute may make mistakes and get themselves entangled in the worst passions. Such a man is going through a lot of stress and is tired and weary enough that he does not want to find time for God. And if this time was found, God would show him another way. A path on which there are no disputes, lies, hypocrisy, fighting.
Let’s look at what people did to the marriage union, with the help of Satan. The ideal definition of marriage according to biblical teaching should be: it is the relationship of two opposite sexes, loving and faithful from the moment of marriage to death. I am together with my wife for twenty one years (we were together for six years before marriage) – it is a lot of time and experience. Often, Emilia tells me, “You know what, I’ve lived with you half of my life!” Now when I look at us from the perspective of those twenty years, I see that we are completely different people then we were before. I’m talking about this, because the world around is full of false theories about male-female relations. Some say that a human should stay in a fixed relationship for only ten years, because he is able to plan his relationship with the other person only for so long and his character will not change too much. After ten years, however, he should change his partner. I hope you disagree with this theory, because it is not in line with the teachings of the Bible. Especially such thinking is popular among young people. Often when I tell younger friends that I am married for fourteen years, in response I hear: “Listen, it’s been four years too long with her!” This is the way the world unfortunately looks today – it has been deformed by the activity of Satan, and the principles that God has left us have been forgotten.
People are often very irresponsible. If they are getting married and they choose the one person they want to spend the rest of their lives with, then the question arises what is the reasoning when making that decision, when half a year later they think differently. I say this, looking at the marriages, which just after half a year’s being together are falling apart. So I ask, on what basis do people decide to marry? I would like to explore this topic to tell everyone, especially the young ones, who want to get married, what the Bible says about the subject, and to tell them what questions they should ask themselves before making a decision on marriage.
Jesus would like the love between the spouses to be perfect. It all depends on us, how we treat our partner and the situations we face. I noticed that in marriage a lot depends on the emotions and how we interpret the actual state of affairs. Unfortunately, when there is a controversial moment, depending on how we interpret the words or the behaviour of the other side – and interpreting can go many ways – and how we manage our emotions then, the conversation may end calmly, or in extreme situations, with a quarrel. Satan strives to make our emotions violent, our thoughts negative, and behaviours aggressive. The Devil will be happy when tension grows moment after moment and the spouses are approaching the point of no return. Just a few sharp words and the wound will no longer heal. Satan’s purpose is to destroy what Jesus has bound.
After divorce we will be more susceptible to breaking the divine commandments. Beginning with the breaking of relationship with God, through no longer attending church services, ending with alcohol, drugs, and sex with other partners. At this point Satan is successful – with his teams he opens up a bottle of champagne and all “hell” rejoices. So the question arises: How can we not give Satan a chance to rejoice? How to win every argument? There is one very simple way: do not let it happen, and if it already has – let it go. Be silent. Be quiet. Do not add fuel to the fire. No reason can be presented effectively when emotions take over us. As confirmation – two quotes from Scriptures: “A gentle response diverts anger” (Proverbs 15:1) and “How blessed are those who are destitute in spirit, because the kingdom from heaven belongs to them!” (Matthew 5:3). I have often prevented many quarrels in my marriage, by holding my emotions and clenching my teeth. After all, I love my wife and I want to be with her. If she does not understand something, I tackle the problem by myself. Often we both regret that we haven’t finished such a quarrel, because we are left with an unfinished conversation, uncommented arguments, no excuses, no responses. Satan wants us to feel defeated and frustrated. After all, we have not been able to defend our position, present our version of events and … pour our anger out on the other person. Satan wants us to feel as losers, no matter what. In fact it is different – we won!
When quarrels take place – Satan wins. He is successful at getting us to quarrel with our neighbour, friend, or spouse. “Hurray!” – the fallen angels cry. However, we do not feel like winners. The worst moments are right after the quarrel. Nobody wants to be the first to set matters right. We pass ourselves and do not speak to each other. It is worse than during the argument itself. Satan continues to applaud, “Keep it going!” Put a little fuel into the fire and a divorce is a sure thing.
Do you have friends you have not spoken to in years? I have two friends: Krzysiek and Mirek. Our relationships did not work out best. Once friendship between us existed, today there is not even acquaintanceship. I did not see Krzysiek for around twenty years, and Mirek – a few. Why did it end like this? Satan wanted us to quarrel. I know that I could have prevented it. I know that I had the opportunity to do otherwise. Today I regret. Do you have similar feelings? Or maybe you feel good with it? Know one thing – Satan too feels well with this.
If you prevent quarrels, Satan may also win, introducing some distaste into your relationship. And even if you have bad feelings and you want to get rid of some problems, but you still managed to stop – then you won. And now Heaven is rejoicing – evil has been defeated! You can always return to the conversation when the situation calms down. And it will calm down pretty quickly. A few hours, a day or two. Then you can ask the other person to talk and then, with no emotions, discuss the problem. The trick is to just admit the mistake and apologize. Even better is to forget what was wrong and what hurts, and forgive. Jesus encourages us to do so.
How often do we apply the above principle in a relationship with another person and how often do we add fuel to the fire? How many times do we strive to make the dispute even more fierce, and to turn a mere argument into a heated debate and then into a quarrel and door slamming? The fact that someone slams the door in a heated conversation happens often. I am convinced that each of us took part in a situation where someone turned on his heel and got upset. Why? For we have probably not followed the principle of: “A gentle response diverts anger” (Proverbs 15:1). If we always used such a response, whether towards our spouse, partner, friend or colleague, we would always be victorious in stopping a quarrel. Chapter 16 of the Book of Proverbs says: “People do the planning, but the end result is from the Lord.” We should always be encouraged to give an answer that comes from God. If we applied this principle also, then we would always be perceived as “sons of Light” (Luke 16:9), as a candle, which when put in the darkness sheds light on the pathway for our kin. The seventh verse of this chapter says: “When a person’s ways please the Lord, even his enemies will be at peace with him”.
I’d like to mention a pattern that comes to my mind: a God – wife – husband triangle, where at the base of the figure are the relations between the spouses, and at the top there is God. The triangle shows that if we are far from God, we are also far apart from each other: whether it is from our other half in marriage or from another human in other relationships. On the other hand, the closer we approach God, the more our conjugal bonds are tightened by the grace of God and friends can also be closer to one another. The starting point is God. It all depends on the relationship we have with Him. Worse, if one side is close to God and stays with Him and the other is far away – then people will not be able to approach each other.
Proverbs (16:9): “A person plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.” If we are close to God, we can submit our decisions to Him, and then the Lord will direct our steps by choosing the best path for us. Verse 13: “Righteous lips are the delight of kings, And they love him who speaks what is right.” Verse 24: “Pleasant words are honey from a honeycomb – sweet to the soul and healing for the body.” These principles should have the first place in our marital relationships – nice and sincere words, mutual support. In this way, we will accelerate the realization of our dreams of a wonderful relationship, as desired especially by women. And what are the dreams of men? Book of Proverbs (31:26): “She speaks wisely, teaching with gracious love.” The same applies to men. If we speak wisely, if we pay attention to how we talk and give good advice, our marriage will grow properly.
In my marriage there was also a period when we argued – very much even. Recently I have analysed what caused our problems and what others argue about. I came to the conclusion that some of the more serious reasons are among others: drunkenness, disappearance from the home for many hours, lack of interest in the family, money spent on alcohol or lost in card games, cheating, bad parenting, overworking, lack of respect for parents. These are the “heavier” cases and the hard topics. Many times, however, it is also about trifles. Likewise in our relationships with others – notice how often problems are really trivial! Satan is very keen for people to make mountains out of molehills where there are no major problems. If the devil sees that there is beautiful love somewhere, the relationship is going well, he is very desperate to spoil it. Stick a stick into an anthill and stir it up, and then they start to reprove and reproach each other! He said that, and she said this, she did that, he did something even worse. I remember one very long and fierce quarrel with my wife about a trifle. Emilia told me that when I walked out of the toilet and used up all the toilet paper, I did not throw the empty roll in the trash. She found it very annoying. When I go into the toilet and see that there is no paper, then I take it from the cabinet and put it in the container. I never use the toilet without checking if there is paper. And my wife thinks that I should check when I’m leaving the bathroom to see if I left an empty roll, and should take care to replace it. Usually I do not realize or I forget, but I never do it on purpose. There is somewhere in us, people, this rooted desire to argue, prove and show that we are right. Who’s right? Probably both of us. It is amazing how Satan is just waiting for the opportunity to put this stick in at the right moment, to motivate us to quarrel, to use the moment in which we are weak. Imagine that you came tired from work, you have a bad mood, because not everything this day went according to your plans, the weather is nasty – and here you have this moment conducive to starting a marriage dispute. Those are the most appropriate conditions for a quarrel to break out and that is why at such moments we should be especially careful about what we say. If there is a quarrel, then calm your emotions. Be the first to step down. It is said that silence is golden, so maybe sometimes we should not talk. Pray to God, so that you may be the first one to calm down. In the Gospel of Matthew, in chapter 5, it is written – “blessed are the silent (…)” – those who speak less, and if they speak, they say good and constructive words.
Once upon a time, my wife asked the question, “Do you love me?” After twelve years of marriage the question seems to be out of place. However, this may mean that Emilia is not sure I love her. Or that I may have forgotten to show her kindness and tenderness, or to affirm that I love her, or maybe it was an introduction to a broader discussion. I replied, “Of course I love you.” She asked a second, more difficult question: “What do you love me for?” Now we come to the heart of the matter: how should our love look like? Why do we ever stand before the altar? Why do we get married? Some respond – to have someone. It is so widely accepted that a woman is looking for a man or a man looks for a woman and that they want to find themselves at all costs just to live with each other for the rest of their lives. And the right answer should be as follows: to devote oneself to this beloved person and to make her happy for the rest of her life. In the first case, we focus on ourselves and our own ego. We win someone for ourselves in order to satisfy one’s own desires. In the second case, this is the true love, which Jesus mentions to us in the Scriptures: to dedicate ourselves to the spouse, to live for him, to make him happy.
Very often the relationship between God and His chosen people is presented in the Bible on the example of love between spouses. God identifies the church with the spouse, the bride. He even uses words that are used in love between lovers: I’ve loved you. And “I’ve loved you”- as I mentioned in previous chapters – is more than “I love you”. Let’s try to learn the meaning of the word ‘love’. I distinguish three types of love. First one is charm. We get to know someone, we are enchanted and we would like to do everything for him/her. We really want to be with this person. All we do is to satisfy ourselves, our desires. The second kind I notice is when we verbally show love to the other person. We say “I’m in love with you”, but most often in the sense that we have an interest in it, because we want him/her to be with me, so I love him/her. And the third type of love, that is the right kind of love – agape love. Agape love is sacrificial, full of dedication and concern for another person. In this love it is easy to forget about yourself, you think about your partner’s happiness. This is the moral ideal of love.
The first type of love lasts from one month to a year, and in special cases (if the infatuated rarely see each other) up to two years. Infatuation can last more than two years, but usually no more than five, then it is more likely getting used to each other (you do not have to agree with my opinion). The second type of love occurs in every long term relationship. I distinguish two types of this love: proper and tainted. In this love we have to be with another person and love each other (with emphasis on “we have to and do not want” – tainted or “we have to and we want” – proper). If we have to and do not want, it is a kind of tainted love (of course, by Satan). Then there are silly jokes, bitter teasing, commands and prohibitions. If, however, we want and have to, because we promised it to each other, then we go to the third type of love – agape. Each of these variants of love can exist alone or all at once. Ideally, a man is infatuated, in love and wants to love with agape love – the proper one. Anyone who enters into marriage should come to this third stage. Or at least he should realize that there will be a time when he will no longer be charmed by his spouse – he may not even be too much in love, because it can happen. However, it is not possible to turn back and then I should love the other person, whether I want it or not. If I want to – it is perfect. If I do not want to, then still, in order to maintain love I should give her full affection, make her happy, organize romantic encounters, give gifts, enjoy caressing and sex, provide calmness, safety, respect. If we do that and we want to, then it is true love.
So when Emilia asked me about it, I replied:
“I do not have to have something to love you for, because it is not that important what I think. I chose this road fifteen years ago, when after six years of being together I found that I wanted to be with you and wanted to love you for the rest of my life. Then I thought so and now I think so too. I’m fighting against the thought that I would not want to. This would be a catastrophe for me. When standing at the altar and saying what all people say: I will love you and I will not leave you until death, I did not understand what it meant exactly. I’m sure that few understand. But when I said that I wanted to be with you for the rest of my life, it meant that regardless of whether I liked it or not, whether I wanted it or not, I would still do it. I will love you. Today it is not important what I love you for. It does not matter what my opinion is in all this. At the moment my job is to make you happy and this is what I should want. This is the responsibility of a spouse. And I would even say more, using the phrase ‘I must’ – today, I must love you, because I promised, because that is my calling to be with you, that is my mission in our marriage. I have to love you, which is to give you all the best, to be with you, to understand you, to alleviate your pain, to ease your anger, because I once promised. I know what is our priority and purpose, I know what we should do for us to feel good.”
If such rules are maintained by both spouses, then we have the perfect love. We complement each other, fight for each other, build our relationship, have no place for quarrels or arguments, we understand each other perfectly. It is not important that, for example, today, after twenty years, I would like to be with someone else, because I like this someone. If I had chosen someone else and parted with my wife, then after ten years I would have encountered the same problem. This person would bore me again, he would seem to me to be an inappropriate partner.
In general I do not understand people who decide to marry and after a year, two, four, ten, go into separation, explaining: after all we did not have matching characters, we did not fit together, or I started to like someone else. For me it’s a scam, cheating and lack of responsibility. In my opinion, the law should forbid it. There should be punishment for the spouses who first promise, give their word, bother someone, and then leave to satisfy their egoistic needs – whatever they are (even if they just want to regain ‘heavenly peace’). Consider what a thirty-five-year-old woman with her one-year-old child may feel after five years of marriage when her husband leaves her claiming he was wrong or that her persona does not work with him, not wanting to give her a second, third, or even seventh chance? What is the responsibility of the husband or wife who promises something in front of God at the wedding ceremony and then withdraws from it, regardless of the reason?
Here I have to mention that there is an exception – I understand the decision to leave if it is caused by fornication (namely extreme and lasting immorality) of the spouse (Matthew 5:32). This can cause a justified reluctance to maintain a relationship with him. One cannot build a marriage by force and then it is better, in that case, to leave.
One day a friend came to me. He said he had a problem, because life is running by and he still has no wife. He knows various women, but none of them fit him as a wife. I said: “Think about who you are looking for. It is very often that we come up with such an ideal in our head and we would like to find it. Then, knowing many women in your life, one by one, none of them is able to fulfil your expectations. That is why only the best qualities are selected and an ideal is created. Such a perfect woman created in the imagination is impossible to find. Besides, even if you met such an ideal, would you like this person? Would your character and your appearance be suitable for her?”
The colleague then mentioned that he is now meeting a woman, with whom he might want to be and does not know what to do. So I said: “Look at the cheerfulness of her spirit, which is very important and look at her character! Is it pure, full of goodness, good intentions, does she have a good relationship with God – check this above all. Because if you want to combine it with her amazing skills, development, education and even her beauty, then you will never find such a woman. But if it turns out that this woman can take care of her house, her relations with her parents and siblings look good, you feel good with her, you have some common interests, then date her for half a year, maybe a year and see how this relationship will go.
Then he asked: “… do you think we should live together?”
“No, go out on a trip together” – I answered. For two weeks. See what happens, try to be together a little, see how you will feel with each other. The more you know a person, the more he or she opens up to you. You may find that you will see in her things that you do not like and maybe you will not want to be with her.
A few weeks had passed since I advised him so. I see that, however, everything is going on well and it seems that they will be together*. It is very important to know in advance who we would like to have as our spouse for the rest of our life. You may have an educated woman and a beautiful woman, but of a character far from God’s ideal, with a morality that leaves much to be desired. This is probably the worst. Beauty will pass away, just like everything does and what happens then? We will be left with someone with whom we do not connect and it will turn out that this is a problem. On the other hand, if we match and we have a good relationship, then we are able to master each and every difficult situation in life.
Ideal love consists of three components. These are: intimacy, passion and commitment. Intimacy is the closeness, the ever-increasing attachment between the partners. According to Robert Sternberg** – it is manifested by the desire to care for the good of the partner, to be happy to be with him, to believe that one can count on him; it is respect, mutual understanding, sharing experiences, exchanging intimate information. Intimacy is an important element of love. Passion is in turn experiencing strong emotions, positive and negative. When intensity of passion is high, lust, joy, longing, jealousy, anxiety are experienced. Those are the features of passion. We also have commitment. It is a decision, a commitment to maintain a relationship, it is everything connected with creating a lasting relationship. These are conscious decisions. If looking at our relationship we find ourselves in these three spheres, there is a very good chance that our marriage will survive and be happy.
* At the time of the first edition of this book, these two are together, married and happy. I had the pleasure of being the best man at the wedding and giving a short speech there.
** Source: https://pl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miłość
I will tell you now what Jesus tells us about it. Jesus says, “love your neighbour as yourself ” (Matthew 19:19) – reject selfishness. The most important thing in a relationship with another person is how to get rid of selfishness. If we do not want to do something, such as: to do the cleaning-up, take care of the children, cook, give affection or sex, and we toss that responsibility for our laziness on the partner – that is selfishness. We are selfish when we put our good over the good of the other person. The same applies to any relationship – be it as colleagues, as friends or as a married couple. If these relationships are to be maintained at the right level, selfishness must be rejected. Egoism comes from the Devil. The fall of Lucifer, who was a great angel, began with egoistic thinking. All started with pride, exaltation and comfort. See how often we like to be comfortable in our lives! How much do we want the spouse to do something for us at home? When he expresses a different opinion on this topic, we do not like it anymore. Then comments and quarrels start. If someone is unable to reject selfishness in favour of another person, he or she cannot function well in any relationship. Let’s be responsible. The key-note of responsibility is the rejection of selfishness. The apostle Paul left us a message: “If you want to marry, marry! If you don’t get married, then that is perhaps better. I would like everyone to be unmarried, like I am – being single and serving the Lord. However, if you marry, then be responsible about it until the end, once and for all” (paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 7). I would like Jesus Christ to give us such responsibility.
Every person who wants to tie the knot or any person who is seriously thinking about marriage – regardless of the stage he is in – should answer the question: am I able to reject egoism from my life, now and in ten years? Can I nurture agape love, so that it could be seen in my relationship with my spouse? If we reply affirmatively, it means we are prepared for marriage. Even if there is a crisis, it will be far easier to overcome it. Of course, let’s not go into extremes. If we have a too ‘soft heart’, some spouses or friends will not appreciate it, but they will abuse it for the wrong reasons. In such situations we must be able to say “no”.
Often, our point of views are unfortunately different. Now the question arises – how do we react? If there is an exchange of views, do we respect the views of the other party? Or maybe we presume that our second ‘half ’ is wrong? Are we trying to push our arguments? It is very difficult to control our mouths and desire to argue. It is great when the other spouse gives us warmth, positive feelings, understanding and is nice to us. Marriage can then be totally changed – both in the spiritual and in the physical sphere – if only one of the partners is talking nicely with the other. But it depends on the two. Love and relationships are built together. I give and the other side gives too. It is much easier for me to give love when I feel it from my wife and vice versa.
The most important and key thing in all this is God’s support. If this support is not there, our labour is in vain. If the angels stop taking care of our marriage, they will give a free path for Satan. He is just waiting for it. Let us remember about prayer. Let us pray that God helps us to stir up this perfect love in us and helps us rid ourselves of selfishness. Then pray for your spouse. Introduce this plan for the healing of your marriage to your spouse, and then pray that God will give him the strength to give true love.
Scripture says that even a bad man can have a rush of goodness and do good things from time to time. This is nothing special – many people do so. But if we want to follow Jesus we need to be above average, we ought to put God’s solutions into constant use in our lives. Here we need the help of Heaven, because we cannot do it ourselves as we have our habits, our sins and weaknesses, and we have our fallen angels who know us inside out, who are around us and want us to change, but for the worse. You can try alone, without the help of God, but then Satan will come tomorrow or the day after, saying, “Why make the effort? Come on! Will you be nice to your partner? Is he nice to you or was he? No!” Jesus said that we should be like a candle that is placed in a dark place to shine for others. That is why I would like to encourage you today to change your life, as well as relationships, whether in the family or in the brother – sister, friend – friend relation. We, as true Christians, should be a light for all. Jesus encourages us to follow His example, and others should see these changes in us. A change of attitude should happen in us first! “If anyone wants to be first, he must be last of all and servant of all”(Mark 9:35).
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