By Greg Baker
[dropcap]O[/dropcap]ver the years, I’ve noticed a trend in marriages that come to me with problems. It seems that every one of them had at least two of the six leading causes of divorce presented in this article. The wise husband or the wise wife would do well to take the temperature of their marriage by examining these six areas.
CHILD REARING DIFFERENCES
Children don’t make a marriage successful. A strong marriage will benefit from having children, no doubt, but if you are hoping that children will help or heal your marriage, you just made a mistake.
Children don’t look to see how they can heal or help their parents’ marriage. They are all about themselves. They will play one parent against the other, they will use one parent to override the other parent’s decisions, and they will play up to one over the other to get their way. This is just what children do. This is why they need parents.
But children often become a source of division in the marriage. If you don’t stand together regarding the discipline of your children, you will find that your marriage will soon begin to struggle.
1. Have a plan for discipline.
2. Always stand together before your children.
3. Never let your children see you argue.
4. Agree on rules and consequences. Be consistent with their implementation.
5. Back your spouse up in front of your children.
PROBLEMS WITH IN-LAWS
Much like children in the last point, extended family can do a lot of damage to a marriage. Each of them has their own opinion and they do take sides. Even when they make an effort not to, they tend to switch sides to prove they aren’t taking sides. It’s still taking sides though.
When people have an emotional stake in your marriage, they will tend to interfere. Their intentions may be good or bad, but it is still interference. Here are a few suggestions:
1. Never go to family for marital advice. Go to an impartial person.
2. Never put your family before your marriage. Failure here causes a lot of pain.
3. Defend your spouse in front of critical family members.
4. Never speak of problems in your marriage in front of family members.
MORAL AND VALUE DIFFERENCES
Many marriages form because you enjoy doing things together. You have common interests, or common enjoyments. But what keeps a marriage together is common values.
An atheist and Christian may marry and set aside their differences at first. This usually changes the moment children enter the picture. Both will have a desire to instill their widely separate values in their children. It will cause division. The Bible deals with this issue for the Christian when it speaks of not being unequally yoked together with unbelievers. This is about values more than anything else.
There is no doubt that shared values produce an incredibly strong bond. I’ve watched marriages completely crumble because of widely different value systems.
Most of what you can do about this needs to be done while dating. But if you don’t know the values of your spouse, you need to find out. Here is a short list of values that need to be discussed:
1. God and religion
2. Children and discipline
3. Friend choices
4. Activities you will or will not participate in
5. Good or bad habits
6. Political views
7. Sex and sexuality
8. Financial practices
PROBLEMS WITH SEX AND INTIMATE LIFE
Misunderstanding the importance of sex in marriage has killed many a marriage. Men and women often see sex and sexuality different. Our bodies are built different and thus our mental and emotional views of sex are widely different too.
Sex in marriage is a very holy and clean experience that God meant to be fully enjoyable. But often, it is not. Perhaps the husband hasn’t learned to meet his wife’s more complicated sexual needs, or the wife is indifferent and cold during intercourse. Either way, this has caused many divorces.
1. Good sex in marriage is a lifestyle, not merely physical fulfillment.
2. Spend a lot of time in foreplay.
3. Be imaginative.
4. Be romantic.
5. Build anticipation. Many women love the emotional impact of anticipation.
6. Talk. Use your words to convey love along with your body.
7. Have sexy garments reserved just for your spouse.
8. And you can guess a lot more.
LACK OF GOOD COMMUNICATION
There is no doubt in my mind that the single greatest key to any relationship is good communication. I believe it so much that I wrote a book about it. You may indeed love your spouse, but if you don’t convey that love somehow and in some way, what good does it?
Learn to communicate. Learn to talk. Learn to develop good communication lines.
1. Learn to listen.
2. Have a time to talk.
3. Talk about mutual interests.
4. Don’t argue.
5. Don’t just talk about yourself.
BAD FINANCIAL HABITS
Money habits are often a direct reflection on your character. If you can’t handle your money, you probably struggle in your marriage as well. I’ve witnessed many a man who made good money blow their marriage due to financial mismanagement.
Bad habits with your money lead to stress, anxiety, distrust, suspicion, and generally bad moods. It can rip open a marriage. As a result of this I wrote a budget program to help the married couples in our church. It has done wonders. So many problems have been resolved and avoided because couples learned to handle their money well.
Having good money management skills brings tremendous security to the family and marriage.
1. Have a budget.
2. Stick to the budget.
3. Don’t stray from the budget.
4. Use the budget.
5. Let the budget be your boss.
6. Get the picture?
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