Abuse of the marriage covenant

Here’s a great marriage vow:

“I will be with you, no matter what happens to us and between us.  If you should become blind tomorrow, I will be there.  If you achieve no success and attain no status in our society, I will be there.  When we argue and are angry, as we inevitably will, I will work to bring us together.  When we seem totally at odds and neither of us is having needs fulfilled, I will persist in trying to understand and in trying to restore our relationship.  When our marriage seems utterly sterile and going nowhere at all, I will believe that it can work and I will want it to work and I will do my part to make it work.  And when all is wonderful and we are happy, I will rejoice over our life together, and continue to strive to keep our relationship growing and strong.” ~~ Elizabeth Achtemeier

I don’t know how different it is from the usual “for better for worse, till death do us part” Church vow. But when we say the marriage vow in Church, we are literally saying our spouses are supposed to love us “no matter what” and always find us beautiful or handsome, no questions asked. Of course, that’s the essence of the marriage vow.

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But sometimes we take advantage of that binding agreement and just let ourselves go intentionally in so many ways. We go like, oh how great it feels that we’ve just signed a contract that binds the other person to us for their whole life and nothing, except sexual infidelity, can save their skin! Sweet! Now I can relax, for every bad action or inaction of mine as long as it is not infidelity, should technically be coped with, endured and at best forgiven. Per the vow or covenant we’ve just entered into, everything is allowed as long as it does not border on infidelity…Hurray!

I vowed to love you “no matter what” so now you are at liberty to take your looks for granted! You can now just let yourself eat all the junk foods ever made, grow fat and out of shape. Oh, he should just understand that I’m now a mother and childbirth, raising children, taking care of him and all that just makes many a woman get out of shape. She should just understand that the ever-increasing responsibilities, stressful nature of my job, late night eating and all that just makes many a man develop a pot belly. Just understand and accept it as it is…so I wouldn’t have to put in any effort.

The deed is done, you have now taken the “no matter what” vow, so you can now stop giving much attention to your physique and every other thing as you used to and just corner your partner with the “no matter what” attitude whenever he/she raises a concern. Just remind him/her of the “no matter what” vow they took so they can stop whining about things you feel you cannot change. You think that’s a really safe zone? How sweet!

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Well, these and many others are the sentiments/frustrations shared by many. Problem is too many people treat marriage as a place of arrival, acceptance and comfort; a kind of destination that they arrive at and then everything else in terms of effort stops. People don’t put as much effort into bettering themselves in marriage like they did in the dating phase. After all, if it’s Christian, it never should be broken on any other grounds, right? And then upon that, if you are a man, you are allowed to force your wife into subjection no matter all the ills you do, right? How sad. That’s how God wants it?

“It is so easy to take a spouse for granted, and to take intimacy for license. We can subconsciously think since we’re married, I don’t have to be careful to be polite. We have to love each other regardless, so I can just speak without thinking about how it is perceived” ~~ Shaunti Feldhahn

Right after marriage, many people begin to take so many things for granted. The problem is not the reality that the “no matter what” covenant marriage puts us in. The problem is to be a Christian yet hide consciously or unconsciously behind that and not put in any effort to better anything. I think that is a way of dishonoring your partner and your marriage and making God look stupid for instituting marriage and giving ground rules. Nothing must be taken for granted in marriage. Marriage (and all that comes with it) should not put an end to personal development. We must not pick up a habit of putting our spouses through the “no matter what” test, especially when it is something we can make the effort to change for the betterment of the union.

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The caution is that sometimes it becomes too late to salvage anything and we must not let ourselves get to that point. And I hope it is the Bible that said:

“Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin”
~~ James 4:17

 

© Mark Gadogbe (McApple), 2017

Marriage & Personal Development Author

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Image source: www.federalna.ba

MARRIAGE IS ENJOYABLY HARD

Marriage is the hardest work that you still enjoy best. A lot of people complain about many things in their marriage that stresses them out yet when asked if they are willing to let it all go on those grounds for an independent solitary life are quick to say no. Of course we human beings are created with a high need for intimacy and an attraction to something quite different from the stuffs we are made of. The attraction is not the problem but living with and accommodating the differences is the real stress, but who can do without interdependence?

Knowing how to disagree and work through your disagreements is thus a vital key in holding marriages together because whether you like it or not you will have so many things to disagree about in marriage.

I am not exempted because my wife and I do have many disagreements too. But the thing is many of these disagreements I do not even remember anymore because the initial hurts seem no longer there because we’ve quickly worked through it. Many of the disagreements you even think back on and find to be very funny, trivial, unnecessary and avoidable…and yet which could have rocked your marital boat or relationship so bad beyond repairs.

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Guess all we humans tend to either focus or dwell too much on the bad stuffs in relationships than the good stuffs. One silly or even accidental mistake from one partner will just within minutes cancel out all the million good deeds and nature of the person! It gives a feeling like you’ve just been bad and worse all your life or all the period you’ve being with each other and that’s so deadening! Nobody just wants to make room for the bad stuffs at all…just the good! Meanwhile, life as well as marriage is made of both good and bad moments. The heartbreaking part is that in majority of cases, only a few of those bad actions are even done intentionally to hurt the other.

Many times I have realized that one of the quickest way my wife and I have ended disagreements and hurtful feelings for the other out of one person’s actions or inactions is when any of us are quick to remember and tell the other something like “Honey, you know I wouldn’t intentionally do anything to hurt you right? I didn’t mean to offend you…it wasn’t intentional”. And like magic that begins to calm the storm. Of course, that’s not what entirely calms it but it starts the process because we both are fully convinced that all things being equal, we wouldn’t intentionally seek to hurt each other. And once that reminder comes, all other things begin to fall in place.

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I believe no conflict in marriage should be unsolvable. Well, that’s how God intentioned it when He instituted marriage. No wonder Jesus said even divorce on whatever grounds was not permitted by God in the original intent (Ref: Matthew 19:8). God wouldn’t have loosened up on His original intent to now permit divorce on the grounds of sexual immorality if not for the hardness of man’s heart (Ref: Matthew 19:9). But even with this permission I believe God is still not pleased with the breaking of marriage on grounds of sexual immorality looking at the fact that considering all the heinous sins of man He still doesn’t throw man away but picks him up, forgives him, cleans him up and relates with him like nothing has happened. I believe He expects close to same with all marriages; that no sin in marriage should be too difficult to forgive once forgiveness is sought.

No wonder the caution to love her like Christ’s undying love for the Church is a very deep and spiritual thing that the physical/carnal man cannot do. It takes a very spiritual husband/wife to forgive and still remain married to an unfaithful partner whether or not such a partner has repented of the act. I guess someone will begin to use that as a criterion for choosing a marriage partner. Good luck! Haha.

But seriously, a Church/creation lost in sexual immorality Christ will still reach out to, forgive and bring back to himself as long as genuine repentance is made. The same attitude I believe God expects of all marriages under the New Covenant even though permission has been given for divorce. This is why marriage is serious business to God and should not be trivialized.

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Attitude and behavior I was taught are the major sources of conflict in marriage and as long as with the help of God we develop good Christian attitude and wisdom in handling our marriages, we are sure to save them and fulfill God’s intent for establishing it. “So many people have the will to have a strong marriage but don’t have the skill” Kathy Beirne said. I pray the Holy Spirit teaches everyone the skills we need to make our relationships and marriages work.

worksThanks for your attention dear reader!

God bless!

~Mark Gadogbe (McApple)