But to the married I give instructions, not I, but the Lord, that the wife should not leave her husband (but if she does leave, she must remain unmarried, or else be reconciled to her husband), and that the husband should not divorce his wife. (1 Corinthians 7:10-11 NAS)
"Whether mom or dad wins the custody, we lose."
This is a tagline often used in marriage counseling to discourage separation, coming from the children's point of view. Whether a married couple has children or not, however, a divorce always hurt the entire family.
Marriage is a bonding of two becoming one (Genesis 2:24; Mark 10:8). Separation splits and tears away one from the other, leaving each with only half (Mark 10:9). What has once been joined together, unfortunately, cannot become two again without hurting deep within, and this usually lasts a lifetime. Remarriage, while our former half is still alive, often ends with the recurrence of a non lasting relationship that creates greater hurts than before (1 Corinthians 7:10-11). This is because true love once given cannot be returned without hurt, and life as we know it cannot remain the same.
In a sermon on 'Keys to a Fulfilling Marriage', itinerant preacher Raymond Davey from Sydney, Australia suggested three ways of keeping a marriage: Truth, Trust and Tolerance, and five actions we can take to keep the marriage: Communication, Commitment, Companionship, Communion, and Completeness. This article is adapted from the principles shared by him in the sermon which we can put into practice to sustain a fulfilling marriage.
Ways to Keep a Marriage
Truth is about a husband and wife always being truthful to each other (John 8:32). We must not hide the truth from our spouse and we must never lie. Being truthful is important because our spouse has been given the inner spirit to sense untruth, and this can give rise to a breakup.
Trust is about a husband and wife trusting each other. If a husband and wife fail to trust each other, a divorce may ensue. If a spouse is unfaithful or is faithless towards the other, his or her spirit must take heed not to break the faith (Malachi 2:16).
Tolerance is about a husband and wife loving each other enough to tolerate and forebear each other's differences (Ephesians 4:2; Colossians 3:13). Differences can come from the way we think about something, the way we do things, our behavior and other areas. These can tear relationships apart if mutual love and understanding are absent.
Actions to Take
Communication is about spending time with each other, with our children and the family. If we do not communicate and spend time with each other to have heart to heart talk, as well as do things together, our absence may gradually not be felt any more, and eventually we will be ignored.
Commitment is about sacrificial love. If we love our spouse, we will be ready to do anything for our spouse, even to lay down our lives (John 15:13).
Companionship is about being there for each other to have and to hold, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness or in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part.
Communion is about our union in marriage, the dutiful honor within the marriage bed of undefiled wholesome union between man and wife only (Hebrews 13:4; Ephesians 5:28-32; 1 Peter 3:1-7). Keeping this union undefiled and wholesome holds the key to a successful marriage.
Completeness is about keeping relationships prioritized in the following order: God, man and wife, family and children, work, ministry, and self (Mark 12:29-30; 1 Pet 3:1, 7; Ephesians 5:25, 29; 6:1-4; 1 Timothy 5:8; Matthew 15:4-7).
The Bible states clearly that God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16). We ought therefore to take heed in our spirit never to be faithless, break faith or deal treacherously (Malachi 2:16). As marriage ties the two to become one flesh, let us stay faithful to keep our marriage, and let God be the Lord of our household.
Dear Lord, please help us keep our marriage pure and undefiled to hold fast the union You have ordained. Instill in us Lord to always maintain truth, trust and tolerance in our marriage. Stir within us and overwhelm us Lord to express love one for another through communication, commitment, companionship, communion and completeness. Remind us dear Lord our priorities in relationship building, to always put You first above all else, before our spouse, children, family, work, ministry and self.