There are many marriages in trouble. If there is a institution the enemy is fighting very hard is the institution of marriage. I know it is said that the divorce rate in the church is the same as the world but I kind of have a different view. Because we tend to magnify negatives, when a couple is going through a divorce, we focus on them more than the couples whose marriages are working. That’s just my view. Every marriage has problems. But these problems are usually compounded if there is disunity between a man and his wife. Unity in marriage is very important because it depicts Jesus’ relationship with the church. This is a major reason for the enemy to come after our marriages. That means getting to a place of unity you’re your spouse is a fight. We know the enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy. If he can get you to a place of disunity, then he can easily conquer. In other words, divorce becomes a way out. This affects everyone involved. Unfortunately, this affects the children most. We have to be in unity. We are a force to reckon with when we are in unity. So the question is, how do we unify? How do we become one? I would like to talk to singles first because there are issues that begin right at the beginning of a relationship. Knowledge is important therefore if you did not have anyone to teach you, then it is easy to make mistakes.
God says a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined together with his wife and the two shall become one. I do believe you can foster oneness by the decisions you make as a single person. Two people cannot walk together unless they agree on the direction they will both take. It is very difficult to walk with someone when you are not headed in the same direction. How do you foster oneness before you ever get married? In other words, how do you prepare the ground?
In 2 Corinthians, the bible states,
By way of return then, do this for me—I speak as to children—open wide your hearts also [to us]. Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers [do not make mismatched alliances with them or come under a different yoke with them, inconsistent with your faith]. For what partnership have right living and right standing with God with iniquity and lawlessness? Or how can light have fellowship with darkness? What harmony can there be between Christ and Belial [the devil]? Or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? 2 Corinthians 6:13-15(AMP)
The first point you need to know is in order to foster oneness before you marriage, the person has to be born again. This is a point that has caused controversy yet the verse is very clear. There was a Christian lady who asked a genuine question. There were two men who wanted her in their lives. One was born again but did not have money. He was struggling. The other one was not born again but had plenty of money. So she asked the pastor who she should get into a relationship with. The pastor struggled with an answer because he did not want to tell the lady to get into a relationship with the man who was born again and then she starts struggling financially. Let me address this issue here. There has been a shifting that has happened and am not sure when this happened where money has become more important than anything else hence the rise of married men dating single women. This is the deal. If you trust and lean on God, he will provide everything for you so that you will not get into a relationship because you are in financial need. Let me give you a testimony that will encourage you. My mother comes from a humble background. Her parents were poor. She remembers of a time when she knew she had not paid school fees. But she went to school any way. A friend of hers who we shall call Mary asked my mother to take her to the finance office so that she may know what her balance was because she had not paid her school fees in full. So they get to the finance office and her friend was told how much money she still owed. My mother decided to ask about her fee balance knowing full well she had not paid a penny. To her utter surprise, she was told that her school fees had been paid in full and she owed nothing. She did not ask any question. Until today, she has no idea who paid her school fees. I say all this to tell you that there is nothing God cannot do.
As I have talked to single women, I have come across a certain belief. Some singles believe they can preach to a man who is not born again and he will receive Christ.
Let me point out a few problems with this theory
- You would be going contrary to what God says in His Word. This means walking in disobedience. Walking in disobedience carries consequences. Let me put it this way, Just like obedience has a ripple effect, disobedience has a ripple effect too.
- You are trying to do God’s work. God’s work is a work of conviction. It is really not our work to make sure someone gets saved.
- It is easier for him to pull you down than you pulling him up simply because of our human nature. We are fallen so it is normally easier to walk in the flesh.
- It is very difficult to walk with someone who does not care about the Word of God. You have different set of values. He gets his direction from what is going on in the world. The world is corrupt. You will end up compromising on your values and therefore destroying your boundaries.
You probably know people who have been married to men who are not born again. In their marriages, the man eventually ended up giving his life to the Lord. There are marriages in which people have suffered a great deal because of being yorked with unbelievers. You may encourage yourself by looking at a couple that are now strong in the Lord but did not start that way therefore you feel like getting into a relationship/marriage with someone who is not born again is the right thing for you. How sure are you that you are not going to be among the ones who end up in very bad situations? You had rather know you have put all your trust in God than enter a marriage not sure of the outcome but hoping it will be well.
In order to foster oneness before you get married, pray for your future spouse. It does not matter if you don’t know him, just pray for him. Intercede for your spouse to be. This is where walking by faith and not by sight comes in. Pray for him to be in a growing relationship with the Lord, that he will love the Lord with all his heart, soul, and mind. Pray he will give his life as a living sacrifice unto God and everyday, he will be transformed by the renewal of his mind. Pray that God will teach him what it means to be a man who loves God first, a husband second, then a father. Because you see, if he puts God first in his life, his greatest desire will be to please God and not man.
In order to foster oneness before marriage, you need to grow in the knowledge and understanding of God. I mean if there is anything you need to do is this. I know this is point number three but this is the most important point. Read the word of God and communicate with him. You will learn how he speaks. You will avoid many mistakes because you know when he is saying no, wait or yes. The key to unlocking the doors to your future is your relationship with God. It needs to be growing. When you are single you can spend more time with God than when you get married. When your relationship is growing and someone asks you to be his special friend, you will ask God and he will give you an answer. Once you develop an intimate relationship with Christ you then know what you are looking for in a man because you gain knowledge and understanding of what a man who has an intimate relationship with Christ looks like.
Singles, your marriage will be just like everyone else’s. You may deal with a different set of problems or they might present themselves differently but you will have situations in your marriage you will have to overcome. Why? We are not perfect. We are still a work in progress and we bring our imperfections and issues into marriage. This makes every marriage a work in progress. Always remember, some relationships are doomed to failure just right there at the beginning. When you chose a man either out of desperation or for whatever worldly reason which has nothing to do with God.
In order to have unity in our marriages, we have to
Give our All
We as women have to be willing to put in 100 percent and men have to be willing to do the same. This does not mean when he puts in 20% we put in the same or less. Your husband’s failure in his responsibility to you does not allow you to fail in your responsibility to him. This is not easy to do and can only be done with a lot of prayer and determination. Out of experience and listening to many married women, sometimes you will need to ask your husband for help. We as women have a tendency of thinking he should know we need help therefore we attribute his lack thereof as a failure of responsibility to his family. I listened to a lady who told me how she was not getting help from her husband and I asked her whether she asks him for help. She said, “I don’t have to ask him.” My answer was, yes you do. To be honest with you, it is still something I am working through too. Sometimes I am like, “can’t he see,” and then I have to remind myself, “oh not really.” By the way, men cannot read our minds ladies so we do need to say something and please please don’t say it when you are irate. Wait until you have cooled down then address the issue. I will deal with communication in a while. Men, please you cannot watch your wife running helter skelter and then she asks you for help and you say no while you are seated with your feet up on the table chewing gum. Men, you may not realize this but the verse that tells you to love your wife is not easy to do. Ephesians 5:25 states, Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. Love is shown by actions. Your responsibility is to love her unconditionally. You just can say it or expect her to think or know it. I have heard men say, but she knows I love her. Well, how does she know you love her? What do you do? How do you show it?
Women, this is one marriage rule you cannot afford to break. Ephesians 5:22 (ESV) states, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.” When you submit to a man, you are letting him know that you respect him. This is very important to men. By the way, there is nothing like complaining in submission. You just submit. I will give you an example. One day, I went shopping and bought too many clothes for our son without asking my husband whether we had enough money. When I came home, I found him paying bills. I showed him all I had bought. Let me tell you what he did. He went through the clothes and told me I had to take some of them back. I had used too much money. Then we were going through some financial hardship. I took the clothes he had chosen to return and I went back to the store and got a refund. I did not complain about it. In fact I apologized for having bought so many clothes without asking him how much money I could spend. I remember being given advice by someone how I should just buy clothes because men don’t put this in account. They don’t think about the clothes for children but think about bills. Well, as I always say, men are not the same. Husbands are different. So my lesson at the time was I need to ask because I do not do the accounts in the house. Men, don’t force your wife to submit. It will not go well. Pray for her to learn to submit. Don’t put demands on her. She is not your child. She is a well capable adult or you would not have married her. Submission is not slavery. No woman should submit to beatings of any kind. If a man is beating you, you need to seek help. Sarah was submitted to Abraham. When he told her that God had told them to go to an unknown place, she did not start asking him questions. She packed and left with him. If she had not been submissive, it would have been difficult for Abraham to be obedient to God. Ask yourself whether you are in a category of women who cause so many issues for a husband or marriage because you do not want to be submissive.
Stick to Your Role
A man is the head of the home. This is a position he has been given by God. Women have been given the position of a helper. This is what we are good at because we were created to be helpmates. Some of us have become our own worst enemies. When you take the role of the head, you will bear the consequences of doing that. I remember a lady I used to work with. She was always angry about something. She made the decisions in the house. Her husband could not say anything about it. She complained about him all the time. I could not listen to her any longer. Later, I came to find out where the problem was. She was doing the same things she saw her mom do to her father. In other words, she became her mother. She had two sons. Chances are they will grow up watching their father being disrespected. That is how marriage is being modeled to them. They might marry women exactly like their mother and be disrespect or act up in a marriage any time their wives do things that make them feel like they are being disrespected. In other words, they will be fighting a demon that only exists in their minds. Or they may refuse to marry at all. I will expound on this point later.
I cannot stress enough the importance of prayer in a marriage. Marriages are under attack. There are countries where marriage has been redefined. Do not take anything for granted. Do not feel your marriage is perfect and nothing can happen to it. 1st Corinthians 10:12(NLT) states, “Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.” Pray pray pray. Never stop praying. If you do not think your husband is doing what he is supposed to do, pray for him. Leave it to God. He will work on him. If you don’t think your wife is doing what she is supposed to do, pray for her and watch God change her.
Don’t push buttons
I have never seen my husband angry. I have seen him disappointed but not angry. I attribute this to three things. One, God has worked on him and continues to work in his life. He is a man who is slow to anger. Two, he is a man of peace. He loves peace. This is all God too. Third, I do not push his buttons. I do not desire to see this man angry. I love him so much that I would not want to see him angry. I do not even think I want to see how he looks when he is angry. I think it would be scary. One of the things that has helped me not push his buttons is the fact that I know he cares about me and our children. He loves us dearly and he would not want to do anything that would cause any harm to us. I have also learnt to be slow to speak so that I do not tell him things I can never take back. Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; James 1:19 (ESV)
My mother has said this to me over and over again. “Your father’s positives greatly outweigh his negatives. Always choose to magnify his positives. He may be good in one thing but not so good in another. Praise him for the good he does. Praise her for the way she cooks or whatever other positives you see. If he or she is not doing things well, show him or her how to do it. Some of us only know how to criticize your spouses. Imagine if God criticized you all day long. Pointed out your weaknesses and told you how you need to do better. Imagine if he did not pour out his grace on your on a daily basis. How do you think you would be able to become better? Some men beat their wives about their cooking. Well, what you need to do is find a way to go with her to the store and buy a cooking book. Tell her, “how about if we learn how to cook Italian?” Get into the kitchen with her. My cousin has a husband who does this so well. She used to make a certain type of bread and he would tell her how good her bread was. I promise, he is the only one who would complement her on her bread. As years have passed by, she actually has learnt to make the bread better. Why? Because of all the positive remarks. He was not lying to her. He knew that this was a challenge for her and that she was giving it her best at the time. He found a way to encourage her to do better. She knew he was encouraging her therefore she worked hard at learning how to make better bread. Once you magnify the positives, you will be surprised at how easier your life becomes. If you dwell on his or her negatives, you will never see anything but negatives. This does not help to unify but encourages division. When the twelve spies came back from Canaan, only Joshua and Caleb were positive. The others brought such a negative report and they weighed the whole community down. The children of Israel looked at themselves as grasshoppers yet they were the chosen people of God. They could not face their giants because of how they thought of themselves. You spouse needs encouragement. He or she needs to know from you that he /she can make it and you are with him/her no matter what. Come rain, sunshine, or high water, you will be there. If you magnify negatives, you will never be able to encourage your spouse but if you magnify positives, whatever comes out of your mouth will be to build and not break.
Check Your Associates
Who do you walk with? Which women do you associate with? I have seen God remove individuals from my life because of their influence. I will never forget this woman who had a habit of calling me every day to tell me about people. I stopped taking her calls. Ask yourself who you are walking with. Some women will break your marriage. I have been given advice by women about marriage and I know if I had followed their advice, it would have caused all sorts of issues in my marriage. There are some women who are in your boat who need to get out. They are rocking your marriage and they are going to capsize that boat unless you get them out. Do not give ear to advice that is not godly. It does not matter where it comes from. Measure it with the word of God. Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” 1st Corinthians 15:33 (ESV). I have a dear friend who I talk to if I cannot understand a situation. God has given her wisdom. He has used her to shine a light on some things that I needed clarity on.
In 2nd Chronicles 20:35-37, the bible records that After this Jehoshaphat king of Judah joined with Ahaziah king of Israel, who acted wickedly. He joined him in building ships to go to Tarshish, and they built the ships in Ezion-geber. Then Eliezer the son of Dodavahu of Mareshah prophesied against Jehoshaphat, saying, “Because you have joined with Ahaziah, the Lord will destroy what you have made.” And the ships were wrecked and were not able to go to Tarshish.
If you ally yourself with women who do not walk right and start telling them about your marriage and getting advice from them, you are opening your marriage to problems that can easily end of your marriage. This advice applies to men. Some men can sink your marriage in ways you never though possible.
Do not Compare your Marriage to Another
All marriages are different. Never sit down with a married woman and compare notes. Husband, don’t compare you wife with another person’s wife, with her mother or your mother. This is not beneficial. I listened to a couple who the man would tell his wife he needs to act like their pastor’s wife. Men, this does not feel good at all. Do not compare your wife to your mother. Remember, whatever you invest in her is what you get. My friend’s household, as close as we are runs nothing like mine. My sister’s household, as much as I love her runs nothing like mine. What works for one couple does not mean it will automatically work for another. My husband does not like cooking and I do not like ironing and vacuuming which he enjoys and does well. (If I ask my husband to help me in the kitchen, he will and if he asks me to help him with ironing or vacuuming, I will). I know families where the husband enjoys cooking. He is actually very good at it. We cannot beat down the wife because she rarely cooks. He enjoys it. It does not make him less of a man because he is in the kitchen. Stick with whatever works for you. You will be fine.
Love Each Other Regardless
Love endures with patience and serenity, love is kind and thoughtful, and is not jealous or envious; love does not brag and is not proud or arrogant. It is not rude; it is not self-seeking, it is not provoked [nor overly sensitive and easily angered]; it does not take into account a wrong endured. It does not rejoice at injustice, but rejoices with the truth [when right and truth prevail]. Love bears all things [regardless of what comes], believes all things [looking for the best in each one], hopes all things [remaining steadfast during difficult times], endures all things [without weakening]. Love never fails [it never fades nor ends]. 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8(AMP)
God loves you even after the many many reasons you have given him not to. His love for you does not change. This is the kind of love you should give to each other. When it is hard to love ask God to help you.
Pay Attention to One Another
One day I was so engaged in a telephone conversation with a lady friend. My husband walked in from work and I just waved at him. This is a NO NO. I knew better than to do this but I was so caught up in this conversation. After what might have felt like forever for my husband, I got off the phone and I went and welcomed him home. Now, he is not one to comment but he said something to me. The message I passed on to him was that the person I was talking to was more important than him. I felt so bad. I made it up to him with many apologies, lots of kisses on his face and a cup of tea. Now, I have made it a point to be off the phone around the time he comes home and even when he is home. This goes to husbands too. You cannot be caught up in a conversation with someone else while your wife is present.
My husband is one of the best teachers I know. This is a gift God gave him. He is very patient as he teaches. I watch the lessons he lovingly teaches our children. I am trying to learn how he handles the kids. This is probably the hardest lesson for me. I am trying. One of the biggest lessons my husband has taught me is the art of not jumping into conclusion. He has also taught me not to talk about other people. I heard a pastor once say that couples are the worst gossipers. I do not know how true that statement is but I know that my husband has taught me not to gossip. If we have nothing positive to say about others, we just don’t say it. Let your husband teach you and let your wife teach you lessons that positively impact your marriage. This encourages unity. There are many positive things you can learn.
Don’t Allow Situations that Cause Mistrust in Your Union
Trust in extremely important in marriage. No one should allow a situation that affects trust in a marriage because mistrust will automatically cause disunity. You cannot be in unity with someone you don’t trust. It is such a difficult way of living because at the back of one’s mind, there is always something the other is doing. This is why, every couple need to stay faithful to each other and not lie because it is very difficult to build trust once broken.
Communication is an important key to unity in every marriage. A breakdown in communication causes problems galore. This is why? Maybe you are angry and then you don’t communicate what you are feeling. The other person has no idea why you are just quiet. He assumes you are ok and you are boiling. He asks, are you ok and you don’t communicate but you shout your lungs out. You all end up in a shouting much. So how is that a win for your marriage? I was listening to a couple who had been married for many years. When they first got married, the man would run away from conflict. One day, his wife was frustrated and as her voice started to rise, he left and went to the bedroom. She was so angry she started calling him a chicken. He walked out of the bedroom, insulted her and went back to the bedroom. Of course whatever was going on could not be solved at the time. As spouses, it is important to realize we are mature adults and no on should address the other as if addressing a child. Negative words towards one another should not be the norm. They should be avoided like the plague. There was a lady who was in marriage where her husband would belittle her. Unfortunately, it affected her self esteem. If you want to see the best out of your spouse, learn to communicate well. Read a blog if you have to because whatever you tell your spouses carries weight. Your words are powerful. Men whatever you deposit in your wife, you will get a harvest. If your harvest is not good, think about what you tell her and how you treat her. Learn to communicate your needs and wants. Don’t assume your partner knows what you need or want.
You may be feeling like you are not in sync as a couple. Here are a few exercises that may help you.
Study your backgrounds. How were you brought up? Many people don’t realize that they have become what their parents were. I was listening to a man who said he grew up in a household where his dad had married three wives and none of them was allowed to give an opinion. As far as he was concerned, women were not allowed to give their opinion. They had no voice. Even though he later married a wonderful woman, he made her life a living hell because of his roots. So sit down together and analyze how you were brought up. Then take the good from each side and make that work for you. I was listening to a couple who were brought up very differently. In the man’s family, they all talked above each other and of course it became loud because everyone was trying to pass their point across. In the ladies family, they were taught to take turns. So you can imagine how different their communication styles were when they came together. The woman would barely say anything because she was waiting for her turn to speak but the man was always talking. One day she was so mad and she said that he never listens to her. He was taken aback but as they talked it through, they realized that it was how they grew up. So they decided the best practice was to take turns so that one can listen to the other.
Forgive each other. Forgiveness is a very powerful tool that encourages unity. Sit down and share with each other where you feel you were wronged and then forgive and forget. It is never a good thing to always rehash what someone did in the past. Just like God forgives and forgets, you should too.
Be patient with one another. Patiently work through your issues and chat a way forward that encourages unity in your marriage. One of the things you have to kick out is pride. No one is better than the other in marriage. That attitude will only lead to disunity. Everyone is gifted in their own way.
Pursue peace. Romans 14:19 states, “So then, let us pursue [with enthusiasm] the things which make for peace and the building up of one another [things which lead to spiritual growth]. Encourage one another. Say good things to one another. Don’t allow things that do not build your partner to come out of your mouth.
You can have unity in marriage but you have to purpose to do something about it. Let that man or that woman be your best friend. You can share anything with your best friend. I encourage you to be friends if you are not. Build a friendship because true friendship can withstand hardships and those hardships will make your marriage stronger.
Author of Waiting for a Husband, The Godly Way
Speaker and Radio Show Host of Woman Transformed
President of Woman Transformed