An Overview of Marriage
The state of being married, while still a strongly desired goal, has been under siege for many years. Marriages that once lasted a lifetime are now fortunate to last several years. Approximately two-thirds of all marriages end in divorce in the late 1990s. Yet one hundred years prior, less than 10 percent of marriages ended in divorce.
There are many reasons contributing to this sorry state of affairs. Our society has made it relatively easy to terminate a marriage – at least on paper. So when things get difficult and arguments break out, people abandon their partners instead of learning to work out their differences. It does not help matters that many professional counselors will suggest divorce as a solution to “irreconcilable differences” in a marriage. Yet, the phrase “irreconcilable differences” simply means the counselor doesn’t know how to get the two people to like each other. If he can’t find a solution, then he assumes it must be impossible.
Our society is also approving lifestyles that imitate marriage, but do not include the commitment of marriage. Some European countries have marriage licenses that only last for a limited time (some as little as two weeks). In a sense, the divorce is scheduled before the marriage begins! Prenuptial agreements are also a method of planning the divorce before the marriage begins. The couple signs legal agreements on how their property will be split if their marriage ends. Since they are planning the end before they begin, it is little wonder that divorce is always a solution to every major problem.
It is increasingly common for couples to live together without marriage. Just between 1960 and 1998 there has been a 1,000 percent increase in the number of unmarried couples living together. Yet since there is no commitment in these living arrangements, couples break up and move in with someone else over the most minor problems. Even when these people finally settle down in a marriage, their habits of leaving are so imbedded in their nature that divorce is seen as the best solution to any problem.
Rather than planning on how to smoothly end a marriage, Christian couples need to plan in advance how they are going to keep their marriage together through good times and bad. On the next page you will find three simple questions. Take a moment right now to answer those questions. Save your answers. When you wondering why you ever married your spouse in the future years, pull this out to remind yourself that there was a very good reason for getting married.
As we move through this study, we will not be seeking answers to life’s problems from the writings of men. The Lord God is our creator and He has proven over-and-over-again that he knows what is best for His people. God has given us an instruction book that teaches us everything pertaining to life and godliness (II Peter 1:3). We will study God’s thoughts on the matter of marriage. Current philosophies might be mentioned, not as authoritative, but as an illustration of the wisdom of God’s way over man’s way. When man’s ideas conflict with God’s, God’s way will always win.