All of life’s successes start with having the right relationships with the right people. It was not a big surprise that Jesus Christ chose the twelve disciples primarily for the relationship’s sake. That they might be with Him
(1). After God made man and confirmed he was good, He concluded that being alone was not good for him.
(2), Hence, he created a woman to be with the first man and this marked the beginning of the relationship between humans.
This first divinely recognized and sanctioned relationship is marital as exemplified by the marriage of Adam and Eve; this has been perpetuated from age to age up to the present generation. So fundamental is the marital relationship in the sight of God that it is mentioned in the Scripture more than any other form of human relationship.
A marital relationship is primarily and scripturally established between a man and woman after taking a marital vow which is typically formatted like this:
“I take you to be my wedded wife/husband, to have and to hold, from this day forward; for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in joy and sorrow, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part, and hereto I pledge You my faithfulness.”
For this typical oath or pledge or vow, there are four pillars on which the success or failure of the union primarily stands:
1. Nurturing RELATIONSHIP
2. Rising above the SITUATION
3. Demonstrated FAITHFULNESS
1. NURTURING RELATIONSHIP – 101% Rule
The first rule of longevity in marriage is a nurturing relationship. God has created in all of us a need for positive relationships. Unless we have it, life becomes very hard for us. Hence, the desire of every being to be in a relationship. To enjoy the relationship, after planting, we must then nurture it like a vegetable. Whatever we nurture grows healthily; whatever we neglect gets stunted and eventually dies. While we may have many areas of differences as couples, what it takes to nurture a positive relationship between two people is very simple – find 1% of common interest and give it 100% of your best effort. Dwelling on our differences draws us apart while focusing on our common interests brings us closer in a relationship.
The typical vow assumes and pragmatically so that in all marital journeys are moments of abundance and lack, joy and sorrow, sickness and health, challenging and difficult situations that will offer the union a period of storms. I have come to appreciate this practical truth in my close to almost three decades of marriage. No marriage can be totally insulated against challenging situations.
Whenever we face the tough times of marriage, whether we swim or sink, regret or rejoice, groan, or grow through will be dependent on whether we focus on the situation or the relationship. Whenever we focus on the situation, we sink with it, when we focus on the relationship, we swim through the situation. We must learn to keep every situation in proper perspective by doing two things: Rise above the situation and remain faithful.
2. RISE ABOVE THE SITUATION
Do not allow the situation to become more important than the relationship. Do not give permission for the situation to stew and eat you up. Avoid saying or doing things that can aggravate your spouse or the situation, and always remember that no tough situation lasts forever only tough people do. After that situation has come and gone, you would remain cleaning up the mess or relishing the experience.
3. REMAIN FAITHFUL
Faithfulness is an attribute of God. In moments of crisis, remain faithful to your initial vow of total and uncompromising loyalty to your spouse. To be faithful is to be completely dependable, absolutely reliable, and totally trustworthy to a cause or promise. Stormy winds are bound to blow and assault, let us live to the vow we made just like the first time we made it by demonstrating our unconditional commitment.
The non-committal attitude between couples in marriage erodes confidence in the relationship. Indeed, a husband and wife’s greatest commitment in life after the Lord must be to each other.
Faithfulness in marriage rests on the platform of integrity – living a life of honesty, probity, uprightness, or moral soundness. While the world bookshelf is full of materials on integrity in public life, it is often overlooked in private life, especially in marriage. Yet it is the foundation upon which success in other areas of life truthfully stands. Lack of integrity has torn many friendships apart and led to the demise of more marriages than any other cause. The question is can you be trusted whether alone or in a crowd, in your bedroom with your spouse or hotel room away and alone?
I read about a fellow in Long Beach, California, who went with a young lady to a fried chicken franchise. While the lady waited in the car, he went in for the chicken. Inadvertently, the manager handed him the box in which he had camouflaged his daily proceeds pending bank deposit instead of the chicken box. They got to the park and opened the box to discover they had a box full of money, not chicken. He realized this must have been a mistake. He got into the car and returned the money to the manager. The manager was so happy and impressed with his honesty. He requested of him, “Would you please wait for a few minutes while I call the newspaper to take your picture? You are the most honest guy I have seen around here.” The young man replied, “Oh no, don’t do that!” The manager surprised, asked, “Why not?” He replied, “You see, I am married and the woman with me is not my wife!” This reply got me thinking for the next couple of days about how we all spend fortunes decorating our front yard and leaving our backyard with tons of dirt and garbage!
A marriage that must last the distance has to be built on moral and financial transparency. This is integrity.
The desire of the Lord for a Christian couple is for a virile, healthy, lasting, and fulfilling marriage. The best way to grow our marriage such that it will last the distance is to water it with love. A healthy, durable marriage is a product of investments and sacrifice from the partners. Every good thing in life has some investments committed to it. The healthiness and longevity of a relationship is, oftentimes, a function and reflection of what the partners have sown into it.
Gbenga Kuye is the Senior Pastor of RCCG – House on the Rock, Grand Prairie, Texas.