“Why in the world should I read a blog post on three ways to kill my marriage?” So you can assess whether you’re unconsciously doing anything that qualifies in those categories and make sure you don’t do it anymore! While there are many things that will snuff out the love, these three are guaranteed to cause trouble.
Emphasizing things that won’t last over people
I remember a young woman I used to work with. We were both due to deliver our first baby within a month of each other. Bob and I had decided that once we had children, I would stay home with them. Bob was in school and we were below “poor,” but that was a choice we were making. My friend desperately wanted to stay home with her little boy and if she and her husband had watched their dollars, she could have. She was willing. Her husband wanted a new motorcycle—a big fancy one. I remember the look on her face and the tone of her voice as she was telling me. I thought, “This marriage isn’t going to last long.”
Not everyone wants a big motorcycle. Sometimes the wrong emphasis involves working many hours to procure a higher-paying position, a bigger house, more spending money. In the process, your spouse and kids get less of your time. If the position/house/money aren’t as important to you as they are to your spouse, how do you feel about playing second fiddle to them? When you give things preference over people, your marriage loses.
Not revealing your true self
What happens when you cover certain details up because you are embarrassed or fearful your mate won’t accept you as you really are? Past mistakes. Current sins. You hang a little curtain to shield your spouse from seeing them. If you are fearful enough, you might even wall off that part of your life to make sure no one ever finds it. Walls are never good for a marriage.
The Pharisees were famous for trying to make themselves look better than they were. Jesus called them on it: “You nit-pick when it comes to tithing spices but you’re unconcerned about justice, mercy, and faithfulness. You look good on the outside, but on the inside, you’re greedy and self-indulgent.” (Matthew 5:23, 25 Roxann’s Colloquial Version) The Pharisees were all about looking good to impress others, but they were covering up what was wrong on the inside.
Here’s the problem: If you’re busy trying to make yourself look better than you are, you can’t ever have a real, authentic relationship with your spouse. Hypocrisy may not stab your marriage in the heart, but it certainly smothers the oxygen necessary to make your marriage flourish. Do you want to know if your spouse loves you just the way you are? You’ll never know if you insist on being a hypocrite.
God has a system when it comes to marriage, and His system works well. Get married. Then enjoy each other’s bodies—unashamed. Then remain faithful to each other—body, mind, eyes—the works. God set it up that way because He is kind and loving. We’ve gotten this out of order in our society, and we get ourselves in trouble when we get it out of order. Everyone else is taking things out of order so we think it’s okay—but it’s not.
When we save the physical relationship until marriage, we get to know the person we’re thinking of marrying—what they’re like, how they think, what they struggle with. When we put the physical first, we don’t do a thorough job of getting to know the emotional and spiritual parts of the person. The physical is just too tantalizing.
And there’s another problem that develops. I’ve heard it repeatedly. Lack of trust. Women (They’re the ones who talk to me.) tell me they don’t trust their husband’s relationships with other women or their husband won’t let them out of his sight. And then they casually mention that they lived together or slept together before they were married. If these are the consequences of putting the cart before the horse before marriage, multiply the consequences many times for unfaithfulness in marriage. I’m not pointing a finger at one sin as being worse than the rest, but this one is a real relationship blocker. Taking things out of order lays the foundation for mistrust. Agreeing with God that we were wrong brings restoration. I’ve seen it.
Thankfully, we serve a merciful God who is willing to give us a second chance. Christian marriages are never doomed. We have the opportunity to confess our sins and ask God’s forgiveness whenever we realize we have strayed from God’s ways—which all of us have. We must understand we have caused our own pain by doing things our way instead of His and purpose to change.
Take a moment and ask God if you are guilty of poisoning your marriage by placing a wrong emphasis on things, by being afraid to reveal who you really are, or by being unfaithful to your spouse.
Never fear, next week we’ll talk about how you can breathe life into your marriage!
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This article first appeared on our blog on January 25, 2017.