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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Date nights and couple fun

Couple fun…?

It doesn’t take much to have a fun marriage; all you need is two bottle crown caps to play a game on your next date night! 
Try it 😂

Date nights and fun refreshes every marriage or relationship. Very little things create fun in marriage…you don’t have subject your brains to any mental agony to discover that. 

On our recent date night, we creatively enjoyed two different fun games with just bottle crown caps…and I can’t describe the atmosphere that just those crown caps created. Forget the pizza…it didn’t bring as much happiness, love and affection, more than what those crown caps did. 😝

​Now you can guess who won!! 

All I do is win, win, win no matter what…” 😜

🎤🎵🎶🎼

©Mark Gadogbe (McApple), 2017

Distance marriage fears

One night I had an attack; one I cannot expand on. It amplified one of the greatest fears I have with distance relationship/marriage…the fear of something terrible happening in the loneliness of the night and there’s no one to cry out to for help. Those midnight emergency situations where your health or strength fails and someone close by like your spouse is your only guarantee of life saving help.

In distance marriages, one of a couple’s greatest prayers is centered on asking for doses of God’s protection and being kept entirely in good health so no emergency situations materialize. Such emergency situations that will require you being there asap but geographical distance won’t allow it are very dreadful and praying against them tops a long distance couple’s prayer list.

long-distance-relationship-image

What if something happens to your partner out there and you are needed immediately but can never show up in time (actually days) because you now have to be at the mercy of some embassy visa processes since you don’t have a diplomatic passport to just get up and go? Not forgetting that “flight tickets cost an arm and a leg” anyways. All those situations that a call or text is not enough to offer comfort are very dreadful.

…And far from the fears, need I say a lot of funny jealousies build up sometimes too? Lol

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Well…God is good all the time and He keeps having our backs! Forever our refuge in times of trouble, right?

 

© Mark Gadogbe (McApple)

Marriage & Personal Development Author

Couple fun

Fun is important to every marriage. A marriage/relationship where partners do not have regular fun times is likely to encounter many problems.

Fun is very essential for marriage growth that couples no matter their busy schedules must create time to have fun and laugh together. Fun brings out the best in people and has a connecting effect.

You can’t separate fun from a good marriage or a satisfying marriage

It is said that couples that play together stay together. Reports have it that having fun together can boost the brain chemical called dopamine, which helps fuel sex drive. It is a good way of discovering a partner’s other good sides too.

Plato is reported to have said…

“You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation”

So go ahead…create some time and have some good memorable fun. You will be better with it than without it.

Cheers!

© Mark Gadogbe (McApple)

Marriage & Personal Development Author

 

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Divorced Marriage Counsellors

When the world (including Christians) looks at marriage counsellors, they often want to see “perfect” people or people in “perfect relationships or marriages”. Very often we come across debates on whether or not divorcees should be marriage counsellors in the Church or not; and whether or not they are qualified (seeing that they couldn’t hold their own marriage together) to counsel would-be couples. Not just counsellors, but also Pastors who have had the unfortunate situation of going through a divorce are not spared the “bad image” and their credibility always raises eyebrows.

If you ask for my personal sentiments, I would say we don’t need “perfect” people or only people with “perfect marriages” to counsel us…we just need the truth of God’s Word. And that can come from even divorced couples or divorced Pastors.

Today’s Church likes to “play clean” and whilst preaching the essence of God’s forgiveness and restoration, the Church is still the first to castigate people whose sins come to the fore, even after they have repented. The Church will even try to deny them of continuing in their God-given calling even after they have repented and God himself probably have forgiven them.

Or the fact that God hates divorce means He hates the people involved too just like that?

It’s quite funny sometimes how the Churches scream things like “all are sinners”, “there’s none righteous”, “our righteousness is a filthy rag before God”, “God forgives all sins”, etc, which means they understand (maybe superficially) that no man (the holiest of Christians alike) is without sin. But when sin presents itself before them, they try to then not associate with it even in its “repented form”. Every Christian sins whether we like it or not; Pastors, Shepherds, Prophets, Ministers, what have you, all sin! And divorce is an equal sin as any other sin! But does that make anybody less of a Christian? People commit “weightier” sins in the Church, then repent and continue still in their roles. Could it be that some sins are not as glaring as the “sin of a broken marriage” that’s why Counsellors who experience divorce cannot continue in their calling?

marriagebroken

There is the story of a Christian Minister whose marriage was experiencing divorce and managed to keep it private (secret) for a few years before it went public when all hopes of salvaging it was lost. I’m tempted to believe that in all those years of secrecy, if he/she were a Counsellor in the Church, he/she would have still continued in that role until the point where it became public. And if that was the case, what puts him in good standing to give marriage counsel while working through his “secret divorce process” and what puts him not in good standing to perform same roles after going public? Have we not seen, heard and read about Pastors who are divorced and still continue in their Pastoral callings; some even re-marrying…and God’s still working through them?

Then again, not every Christian who is divorced had wished to be or is happy about it; and not every Christian who is divorced is the cause of the divorce. So why then do some still think that they are not worth being called good Christians or even worthy of giving good advice?

Taking counsel from a divorcee in Church is not a case of being unequally yoked or taking counsel from ungodly folks; is it?

No, these are Christians…and very good Christians in many cases! Nobody while marrying prays for a divorce I guess? They made a mistake and so what? Many of these folks are people who have regretted their actions and for some, if only their partners were willing, they would do anything just to restore their marriages. But sadly, many times it’s just a situation one cannot salvage. Sadly divorce seems an easier option than putting in the hard work to restore a breaking marriage; thus not surprising how amicable divorce processes are.

'Was your divorce amicable?'   'It was more amicable than the marriage.'

OK…one more story before we wrap up.

There’s the story of a female marriage Counsellor of a Church who discovered after 25 good years of marriage that the husband had been married to another woman even before her. As it were he had deceived her prior to their marriage about his marital status and there was no evidence of him being already married or perhaps she had just trusted him enough not to seek it. But as it now is, he’s fathered a child with this other woman too whilst still in this marriage. Two wives! And she’s only now finding out after 25 years! Now she’s worried that her own marriage has been a lie from the start and here she is a Counsellor who has advised couples for many years. And now she’s worried if she divorces the man, all the people she’d counseled and many others will say how come she a Counsellor has not been able to manage her own marriage. She’s worried her Church folks will begin seeing her in bad light and opine she’s not a good model to would-be couples and should not continue counselling. Question is what’s her crime? And why can’t she continue counselling people?

You see, we always make that mistake and see fellow Christians as our element of perfection. A divorced Christian is no less a Christian than those who are not; neither a divorced Pastor less a Pastor than others.

Maybe we have created a mess for ourselves in Christendom thinking divorcees cannot be good Counsellors so we make do with people who look clean outside but with so much filth and garbage going on in their homes only trying to deceive everybody that they have got it all together.

Who knows, on the judgment day we may be surprised to find that many divorcees are even better than those whose marriages are intact but with a billion hidden sins; sins weightier than the “sin of divorce”, maybe.

Does God forgive divorced couples and restores them in good standing as Christians when they seek His forgiveness? Or are they perpetually condemned on the grounds that He hates divorce and thus can no longer have a place in His kingdom? Well, ponder hard!

 

(PS: Not justifying divorce; God still hates divorce. His will is for all marriages to work)

 

© Mark Gadogbe (McApple)

Marriage & Personal Development Author

Does he/she feel the same about you?

I have discovered the above question is one of the most vital people in serious relationships or considering marriage should ask themselves and their partners. And please when you do, I pray thee that you don’t make it a mere emotional question.

Does he/she love you as much as you do?? Will they go the extra miles with you?

 

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True love: how do I make the choice?

The biblical recommendation that we love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength shows us that for love to be complete, genuine, real… and for love to thrive between two beings, we must have a connection in all those dimensions.

We must not only have emotional (heart) connection with someone to know it is love and that it is true…but we must also have spiritual (soul) connection, intellectual (mind) connection and physical or bodily (strength) connection.

I think those are the complete dimensions of love we must watch and exercise…and also ensure that they are all present and that there’s a good balance and interplay.

Many times when people are confused about their choice of love or lover, they are often instructed to “follow your heart” or by extension, to focus on your emotions. Though the heart is important and should be at the core of every decision, we must not always only follow our heart; we must follow as well the other three “determinants of love”. The heart is desperately wicked and deceptive says the Bible. Hearts do deceive, even more so because what’s in the heart is not always seen on the face.

People also advice when it comes to finding true love that you “use your heart and your head“, in trying to say don’t love blindly. Meaning whatever your heart tells you, give it good thought before acting. Don’t just act on your feelings, do some critical thinking as well. This is great but must we leave out the spirit?

Choosing a life partner or entering into a love relationship is as much a spiritual exercise as it is a physical one. It’s a matter of your soul.

Remember we are not to be unequally yoked per biblical instructions? How do we do that when we don’t wait to determine first if there’s a spiritual connection between us and the ones we are going to give our heart, emotions and body to? Would you want to blindly (without careful considerations) fall in love with someone who will sell your soul to the devil and lead you down the path of ungodliness? Your decision to love someone (choose them as a life partner) is not complete without you weighing in on your spiritual connection or compatibility with the person.

Physical attraction, the fourth dimension or determinant of love is also a good ingredient. I know some over-spiritual brothers and sisters always downplay this…and then find themselves hooked to some unattractive guy/lady only to keep fighting for the rest of their lives some temptations coming their way from some very fine babes/dudes.

You see, I believe that somebody you are not physically attracted to, you cannot be sexually attracted to. Unless you are one of those not so normal people who would sleep with just anything that bears the name female or male.

The sexual lives of countless of marriages are in red zone just because either one of the couples have gone out of shape or more bluntly have become ‘unattractive”. He saw many ‘fat’ women but decided on a person of your figure because that is where the attraction was and so when you let yourself go too much and you become too ‘fat’, you know what might happen? Similarly, he saw many slim ladies but his attraction never was tickled until he saw the big fat you and so when you overdo that slimming course and become as thin as a stick, you might just be making yourself an attraction for another man who has got that taste, not him.

Body image means a lot to many people when it comes to love and you must always have that open discussion so that you know you can always have his or her support and love when those times come that you need some motivation to get back into shape.

That thing we say sometimes that you must love me just the way I am so that you can just let yourself go from say slim to obese after choking down all the junk foods in the world may just not work out for you sometimes. Perhaps s/he will still love you alright, but you may just not be sexually attractive enough for him/her again as you used to…and sometimes you just have to live with that or get back to work!

So there you have it. If we agree that love is not just a feeling but much more a choice, then we must be holistic in the choices we make. We must not be only feelings driven; we must exercise all the four dimensions in determining true, genuine, complete, compatible love that lasts…I think.

Mark Gadogbe (McApple)

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Marrying late

Oh yeah, almost everybody dreams of marrying young I believe, at least in their twenties. But someway somehow, life happened and you feel like you are on a time bomb. For some it was their own choice; maybe focusing on their career in those early years and assuming love will just find them. For others, it’s a chain of disappointments and broken hearts; wasted years on the wrong person and then as the years go by the right people seem hard to come by. Perhaps the longer the wait, the more potential partners get taken off the marriage market and the shallower the pool of potential singles become?

You’ll find so many reasons why people’s marriages have delayed but what’s kind of true is that only a few such people are able to still carry on in life with their self esteem still intact, especially when it wasn’t by choice. It’s such a frustrating feeling not being successful in love and having to wait for so long to find that happiness and fulfillment when it’s not by choice. Unfortunately for some, when that ideal time is past, they are left with a feeling that can best be described as having to settle with a less than ideal partner.

It’s hard, I know. I didn’t have to go through that but I think we could still pause and try to see the blessing in marrying late too. Marriage is hard work and so much responsibility; sometimes crippling your personal development in some areas of life where being unmarried would have ensured faster results. Plus, younger couples, perhaps just starting out in life are often battling financial problems (from the huge demands on married life) that can put a lot of stress on a marriage.

One woman shared her story:

“Getting married at barely 20 meant my husband and I literally started with nothing and we were broke much of the time especially by the time the kids started coming in”

I believe for many young couples, the testimony above is just like a drop in an ocean. For indeed, many young couples have had the challenge of building their life from nothing, right from scratch!

Perhaps for those who married late, though having been denied the early bliss of companionship and perhaps the opportunity of having a child early, they would have used the period to set stronger financial and material foundations. It is expected that most couples who marry late would be more financially sustainable and would have more essential material possessions (say their own house, car, etc) compared to younger couples and this could be a blessing in disguise. To say the least, paying high rents for an apartment with little to save for one’s own house (a great necessity) is a growing challenge for young couples. Reminds me of a friend who told me recently that if he had not married early (which he appreciates though) he would have had his own house by now and I told him people have houses but are not married and are not happy and wishing the opposite has happened.

It is often reported that as a result of financial security alone (which most young couples take a big risk on), those who married significantly later in life report less work-related stress, less marital conflict and more couple interaction and satisfaction.

There’s a blessing in everything o. Count your blessings where you find yourself. Delay is not denial and maybe you just have to reposition yourself better; maybe you have to try doing things differently and relating with people differently; maybe you just need a new outlook on life and not let such disappointments knock out your self-worth.

But whatever the situation, if you are Christian, you can trust that every life circumstance eventually works for your good. After all, the most important factor shouldn’t be time but who; time is of essence but who you marry tops it all. That’s because depending on the character of the person you marry, your life can either be one of perpetual bliss or hell on earth, whether you married early or not. Also because Christians don’t believe in divorce merely on the grounds of some little “irreconcilable differences” nor do they treat marriage as merely a contract between two parties that can be terminated at any time and on any grounds as they so wish, makes who you marry an important factor than time.

Nonetheless, even if there is a perfect time to get married, then it’s only God’s time. And God’s time for everybody is different. Your time will come and don’t let our self esteem deteriorate as if the only way of measuring success and fulfillment in life is whether or not one is married.

Mark Gadogbe (McApple)

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Good marriages manage change better

A good marriage is one which allows for change and growth in the individuals and in the way they express their love
— Pearl S. Buck

Change is bound to happen in our lives and our marriages and relationships. We are not static beings; neither is our marriage. Change can be positive or negative. Static marriages don’t grow…many times they get boring. Embrace change in your marriage/relationship and develop a good mental attitude about it. It sure is not comfortable most times especially when it pushes you or your marriage/relationship out of your comfort zone but you sure will find some fun in there, some adventure, some new experience. After all, a life that stays the same is never exciting, I guess. It’s either you complain and sulk or look for something to encourage yourself.

Socrates it is that said:

“The secret of change is to focus all your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new”

Change is inevitable and must be managed…whether temporal or permanent. Spouses react to and deal with change differently. Good marriages manage change better. How you deal with change will determine the outcome of your marriage.

Depending on the type of change, you could be on any portion of the “dealing with change curve” below. Wanna guess how change makes you feel??

transition

God grant grace so we will be well able to handle all the numerous changes our lives, marriages and relationships will experience along the way. And may the changes not break us but build us!

Mark Gadogbe (McApple)

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Woman: God’s great gift

Reading the creation story, one comes to realize that:

THE HIGHEST GOOD GOD THOUGHT OF FOR A MAN BESIDES HIMSELF IS A WOMAN.

A woman is thus very very good for a man…but, it is where purpose is not known that abuse becomes inevitable!

May our women look to God (their source) for their self-worth and not always run to man for validation.

Woman, know ye not that thou art worth much more than the value a man places on you?

Mark Gadogbe (McApple)

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