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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Lessons on sex

All other knowledge may get outdated but never the knowledge on sex. Lol.
If you could remember, what was your first lesson on sex? I asked myself that question recently and I bet just like many others, my first lesson on sex (and probably the only lesson I ever got from my Christian parents) was to simply abstain from sex…without even knowing or being told what sex is in the first place. Haha. Our Christian parents see sex as a very dangerous zone so they never go beyond “abstain” to openly discuss it with their kids…all the while assuming, hoping and praying that will be enough information to keep their kids sexually pure, to wit, virgins for life. Lol
It’s a good thing to never want your kids to do it, before marriage especially, but reality is that they might break your heart…they might not wait that long. They might surely experiment along the line.
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But like I always say, when it comes to sex, innocence with knowledge is far better than innocence without knowledge. It’s better to have good knowledge about sex and not engage in it, than to not know anything about it and engage in it. Sometimes, too much naivety with sexual matters can lead to your own undoing.
Seriously, talking to your kids early about sex is all good. They need to know early about God’s design for sex, the when, how and why.
OK, enough of the preamble. Today I’m sharing a few lessons I gathered recently on sex:
LESSON 1: “The average Christian has bought a bucket-full of lies regarding sex. Those lies may be so embedded in your thinking that they feel a lot like truth. The essence of who you are sexually and how you approach intimacy in your marriage is in your thought life. To the extent the enemy has infiltrated your thinking, God’s truth about sex will remain on the pages of your Bible and never make it to your bedroom. The battle begins and ends with your thoughts”
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You need to realize that there are so many lies out there that it becomes so hard to know sometimes who is saying the truth.
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LESSON 2: “While sexual restraint is the challenge before marriage, uninhibited sexual expression is the challenge within marriage”
LESSON 3: “Within the covenant of marriage, erotic, exciting sex is a worthy pursuit for both the husband and the wife. A godly marriage should include frequent and satisfying sexual intimacy”
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LESSON 4: “I think many Christian couples have no idea what freedom they have in the bedroom. God made the marriage relationship a safe place for a husband and wife to explore, experiment, laugh, and get lost in sensational sex”
LESSON 5: “Every marriage experiences some obstacle in physical intimacy. Differences in desire, medical issues, baggage from poor choices in the past, a poor body image to name just a few”. Simply, a great sex life requires a great deal of effort…not laziness.
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LESSON 6: “The enemy will do anything he can to put you in the bedroom before you get married. And he will do everything he can to keep you out of the bedroom after you’re married”.
If you read this, you are blessed because you now know a lot more than just abstinence. You’ve gained some extra knowledge. Haha.
We’ll love to hear your thoughts. Share with us in the comment box.

© Mark Gadogbe (McApple), 2017

Marriage & Personal Development Author

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Love making…

Again, here’s something interesting I want to share from the marriage devotional I’m currently subscribed to that I mentioned in my earlier post God, Sex and Marriage.
Here it goes…
What Kind Of Love Are You Making?
No, God didn’t make a mistake! Imagine that you and your spouse lived in sexual utopia. You always want to have sex at exactly the same time and the same way. Every initiation is met with an eager response. There is never any conflict about foreplay, being too tired, giving each other pleasure or trying something new in bed because your desires are always exactly the same.  How fantastic would that be? It would be almost like the sex portrayed in movies–what a great love life!
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God, the creative Creator certainly could have made sex that way. He could have created man and woman to be exactly the same sexually. But He didn’t. In fact, He intentionally made us vastly different.
Did God make a mistake? Did He “mess up” the master design of sex by making a husband and wife so diverse? Does He sit up in heaven and laugh that we can’t seem to please each other?
Remember that even before sin entered the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve had primary sexual differences in the way God created them. God declared His creation of man and woman “very good” and this very good included your sexual differences.
God’s design for sex is NOT just for immediate exquisite pleasure (although He is all for that). But God has a much more beautiful gift of intimacy for you and your spouse to open than what the world says sex is about. Here’s the catch. It requires a different kind of love.
Sex is designed to be more than an expression of love between a husband and wife. It is also the refining fire of love. It tests and teaches a willing man and woman to reach beyond their natural desires and learn what servant love really is.
The world knows only of a love that feels good. We are born with the natural response to “love” those who meet our physical and emotional needs. This kind of natural love is essentially self-love. It really says, “I love the way you make me feel.”
The differences between you and your spouse will ultimately ask you a question: am I a servant lover or a selfish lover? God is very concerned about what kind of love you are making!
Action Step: Ask your spouse, with an open heart, how can I be a servant lover to you?
Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did? Share your thoughts with me in the comment box. Cheers! 
Mark Gadogbe (McApple), 2017
Marriage & Personal Development Author
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Affection before perfection!

Though there are no perfect people and relationships/marriages, it is possible that you can get to a point where you can say confidently of your partner that he/she is the “perfect” partner for you and you can’t think of anything that you would wish changes. And we can get there when we strive to offer affection before seeking perfection out of our spouses.

Affection constitutes tender expressions that result in feelings of closeness, passion, and security and results in marital satisfaction, intimacy, approval, hope, and pleasure…which can bring about perfection. For marriage to thrive, it needs frequent doses of affection which is a vital necessity for connecting with one’s spouse.

In the words of Hallifield Cosgayne O’Donnoghue:

Our husbands and wives however good, virtuous, or amiable, are yet mortal, and have the imperfections of their earthly origin: but still there are ten thousand graces and virtues, as strong to retain affection, as they were at first to conciliate it.  Let it be the endeavour of both parties to cultivate a kind and affectionate feeling; let not all the little acts of attention and kindness which first won esteem and marked the progress of attachment, be permitted to terminate when it is of most importance to preserve its endearment. The cares of life will sufficiently operate to cool and freeze the current of affection; but a prompt and ready attention to every wish, an anticipation of every want, a well-timed offering, in memory of a wedding or birthday, will revive affection, and warm the coolness which would otherwise steal insensibly over the heart and affections.

Affection is vital for all healthy human relationships and when spouses cultivate the habit of being affectionate towards each other, they become emotionally bonded in a near-perfect way. Conjugal affection especially is like a delicate plant; be careful you don’t trample it. 🙂

God help us to increase the affection in our marriages!

© Mark Gadogbe (McApple)

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Distance can do strange things to people

Nothing can replace physical presence in relationships or marriage. Long distance is not for you if you just can’t do without physical love for a period of time. You may die from the lack of companionship, the touch of a hand, hugs and kisses, reassuring glances and smiles, romantic moments, etc.

Long distance relationships (LDRs) or long distance marriages do not thrive on physical love; they thrive on love or connection that exudes from your heart, mind and soul only. LDRs are mainly full of mere promises of love and hope…that things will be better or great when you are together again. But then when you are together, you have the problem of having to work out all the relational differences brought about by the distance and figure out how to re-bond physically again. The “sweet nothing” promises is what keeps it going, what keeps it alive…and things may begin to take a downturn when promises begin to fail, postponed or not honoured.

They say if you love someone, it doesn’t matter if you are miles apart because the heart will always do the connection. Well, the miles actually do matter! They only will not matter much if you know that it is but for a short while or a definite length of time. But the miles will matter if it’s for a seemingly endless journey of separation beyond what you can bear or sacrifice for. Your heart, feelings, emotions and affections can still be with someone far away from you…there’s no doubt about that. You will keep dreaming about them and wishing you are together again. But if that someone is not coming back anytime soon, anytime definite, or keeps postponing the reunion, your love may die along the line because there is no timeline for you to keep it alive and there’s little hope to nurture it.

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Love doesn’t thrive in a lot of uncertainties. And going long distance with no clear cut end in sight is dangerous. Studies have shown that couples tend to be happier and less distressed only when distance is understood to be temporary; otherwise, the relationship seems doomed.

It’s easier to commit to a relationship that you know is going somewhere definite than one that you can’t easily put a finger on. It’s easier to make sacrifices and commit to something whose end you know than that which seems not to have a definite end time. When he/she is supposed to wait for you a week and then a week turns into a month and then a year…you are weakening the strength of the commitment. The strength, energy and success of sacrifices and commitments, find their foundation in what is known/definite and not otherwise.

People naturally grow tired waiting too long and that’s why married couples are often advised not to stay apart for too long. The lack of physical, emotional and sexual intimacy or bonding will be a huge drain on the union when care and wisdom is not exercised in prolonging the times apart.

Nonetheless, just saying you are not a long distance relationship person and so keep throwing relationships away would be a little unwise, don’t you think? Like I wrote in an earlier post I CANT BE IN A LONG DISTANCE RELATIONSHIP, you may be able to avoid it prior to marriage but may not be able to run away from it when it shows up its ugly heads in your marriage.

The tendency of every marriage experiencing a period of separation is very high. Nobody is born a long distance relationship person; nobody wishes for it either. But sometimes it’s just a good test of love…and hey, love’s got to be tested to be true, abi?

Mark Gadogbe (McApple)

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