Helpful Hints For A
By Pastor Max Solbrekken, D.D.
After more than 50 years of pastoring, evangelizing and counselling people with marital problems, I have compiled a concise but adequate list of Do's and Don'ts as a gift to newlyweds. Older married couples will benefit greatly from these truths as well!
It is my sincere belief that if this simple, straightforward 'Recipe for a Happy Marriage' is adhered to, most problems involving marital strife will quickly come to an end.
1) KEEP GOD IN YOUR LIVES
Jesus said, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." (Matthew 22:37-39)
An old song says it all: "With Jesus in the vessel, we can smile at the storm". And that includes the storms of married life!
Without Christ in your lives, you will have a hard time. I can't imagine anyone even attempting living, without a personal relationship with Jesus Christ!
How drab and empty life must be without God's presence in the home, His love in the hearts and His blessing in the lives of people! Some folks live such terribly fractured lives with agony, pain and strife between family members.
Certainly, Christians also have disputes, arguments and problems, but with a common belief in Christ and a mutual desire to serve the Lord, arguments are soon solved and differences rectified.
The Bible says, "How good it is for brethren to dwell together in unity". (Ps. 13:1) This applies also to husbands and wives, as well as other family members!
CHRIST SHOULD BEThen, everything else falls into place! The husband is the head of the wife, but Jesus Christ is the head of the man. (Gal. 5:32)
THE HEAD OF THE HOUSE!
THE HEAD OF THE HOUSE!
A Christian man cannot belittle, downgrade, demean, put down or in any way harm his wife, since he must treat her as Christ Jesus treats the Church; with love, compassion and trust!
I repeat, so long as Christ is in our lives, the problems we face will all be remedied and solved. Let us use the Bible as the guide for faith and morals, and prayer as the avenue to victory.
STAY CLOSE TO THE
PASTOR AND THE CHURCH
May your lives be centered around Jesus Christ, the Bible and the Church. So long as people are faithful to God and His Gospel, loyal in church attendance, prayer and witnessing, they usually keep their marriage on track, as well.
In more than fifty years of counselling marriage partners, I have found that the number one factor in family problems has its roots in a deteriorating relationship between the couple and the Church.
They have allowed their grip on spiritual things to lessen. Prayer, Bible reading, tithing, witnessing and church attendance, have taken second place.
Then came backsliding with parties, alcohol, tobacco, drugs, fights, unfaithfulness and finally divorce!
But it all started with a breakdown in commitment to God. Let me advise you: Stay close to the Pastor and the Church as you endeavour to live for God and have a Christian home, training your children in the ways of God!
Remember, the most important thing is to keep God in your lives!
2) REMAIN THE BEST OF FRIENDS!
"Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the Lord." (Prov. 18:22)
Very often, when young people meet and fall in love, they become inseparable. Daily, by telephone or letter they share the many details of their lives and become THE BEST OF FRIENDS.
They are like two peas in a pod. In many cases, they are compassionate, caring and understanding of one another. Then, they get married and the friendship often erodes and they end up only lovers - but not friends.
They choose their own personal friends in which to confide and tell their problems to, and soon a rift develops.
A rift which could have been prevented if husband and wife were genuinely concerned for their spouses, and still friends as well as husband and wife!
No two people should be as close to each other as husband and wife. There should be an inseparable bond of fidelity, trust, admiration and compassion between them.
When lovers marry, why can't this bond of unselfish caring and sharing continue, as an unbreakable link?
It can and must, in order for the marriage to flourish and grow!
That doesn't mean that each person in the relationship cannot or will not develop friendships with others; like business associates, work mates, neighbours or relatives.
Certainly, each person is an individual and will have people they come to know well or long-time acquaintances (that go back to their childhood).
I am specifically referring to spending time talking to one another and confiding in each other on a "most trusted friend basis".
In this way, you will share the pains of defeat and the joys of victory together, in all your ventures and undertakings. In order to be the best of friends, you must always keep the lines of communication open.
Talk things over and don't clam up or punish yourself or your spouse by foolishly refusing to discuss whatever problems or situation arises.
Air your feelings and be reasonable in listening to the other side, in an objective way. In all things, remember to be understanding, forgiving and ready to help your partner improve!
3) STAY SWEETHEARTS ALWAYS!
"Let thy fountain be blest, and rejoice with the wife of thy youth." (Prov. 5:18) A great preacher once said, "If you marry in the Lord, you can remain sweethearts throughout your entire lives".
And advertisements state “Diamonds Are Forever”. Diamond rings and wedded bliss always seem to go hand in hand. Just as diamonds are of lasting value and even increase in monetary and sentimental value, so it is with marriage!
Some years ago I coined the phrase, "True love never tarnishes, but rather brightens with age"!
Love is eternal! Love is forever! And love is the strongest force in this wicked, old world! Why? Plain and simple: Because God is love! (1 John 4: 8)
There is also another reason: We were created in the image of God, but Adam and Eve abdicated their position through sin, disobedience and rebellion, plunging the human race into a state of anarchy!
Through Christ, we receive God's love in each of our hearts personally and our human love is expanded to include Godly or Agape love.
LOVE MAKES THE WORLD GO ROUND!
In my position and calling as a pastor, I have certainly seen a lot of strange things. One remarkable thing is how blind love really is!
A young couple will desire to see me. They have something important to share. They are in love and wish to announce that they are planning to get married and would like some ADVICE and COUNSELLING.
The young lady may be the most beautiful, sweet little thing and he may be really crude and down right ugly (sometimes it's the other way around) and when he leaves she turns to me and says, "Isn't he a doll?"
Wouldn't it be wonderful if love could remain that innocent, precious, sweet and blind? It has been said, "Love makes the world go round"!
How true in more ways than one! Not only do lovers get 'starry eyed', silly and even 'lovesick' when bitten by the bug, but the kind of love we are seeing today, makes the "World Spin Out of Control".
Millions of heart-broken husbands, wives and children are casualties in what I call the Love-Hate Syndrome of insecure, selfish and narcisstic people, who think only of themselves and what sensual pleasure they can derive out of marriage!
NOT EVEN TRUE LOVE COMES EASY!
Any goal that is worth achieving is worth working for; consistently, systematically and diligently!
IT TAKES HARD CONSISTENT WORK: CONSIDERING YOUR PARTNER'S FEELINGS, PREFERRING HIS OR HER HAPPINESS BEFORE YOUR OWN, GOING OUT OF YOUR WAY TO PLEASE YOUR SPOUSE AND LIVING PRIMARILY TO MAKE YOUR FAMILY HAPPY, WILL DO MORE FOR YOUR MARRIAGE THAN ANYTHING ELSE!
St. Paul writes, "Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another;” (Romans 12:10)
This works, not only among the Ministering brethren and church members, but also between husband and wife. And among the children, as well!
Sometimes it is difficult to take the time to show that special affection to your husband or wife, when you are tired, discouraged or sickly, but it is worth it!
On the other hand, it takes God's grace to understand your partner's moods when he or she is not talkative, unromantic or even depressed.
Your duty then, is to go to his or her rescue and solve the problem with understanding and conversation, good common sense and tender loving care!
You must remain youthful in your mind and don't let the tenderness, warmth and sweet romantic atmosphere move out of your lives, especially as the years creep up on you. Stay sweethearts forever!
4) SAY AND DO NICE THINGS ABOUT, AND FOR ONE ANOTHER
"Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them." (Matthew 7:12)
Some men feel it is not manly to be nice to their wives in public and especially in the presence of other men; even if they are tender and caring to them in private. This is a very foolish attitude! It will hurt you both and affect your marriage!
There is a foolish new fad among young people today - that of using sarcasm toward each other. This approach is popular among sweethearts and young married couples.
Often, these remarks backfire and people get hurt! Making jokes at the expense of your partner leaves scars, question marks and produces fertile ground within people's minds for Satan to plant insidious lies and lingering doubts about that person's intentions, fidelity or true love.
DO NOT BE FOOLISH! DROP SARCASM FROM YOUR VOCABULARY, EVEN IF IT IS SAID JOKINGLY OR LOVINGLY! IT COULD PRODUCE SIDE-EFFECTS THAT ARE UNPLEASANT!
Whether in private or public, in the presence or absence of your partner, do not say or do things that degrade, irritate or undermine him or her.
Always articulate those things that build his or her image and helps cement rather than deteriorate your relationship!
Do not forget to be kind to one another. Remember special days like birthdays and anniversaries with flowers, gifts, love notes or cards.
All of these help to keep the flame of love burning brightly. Never stop touching, holding hands, kissing or smiling at one another!
Acts of kindness, words of encouragement and a pleasant attitude with good-natured humor, goes a long way to keep a marriage sound, successful and happy!
5) DON'T BE SELFISH, STINGY OR DOMINEERING!
"Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives;
"While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered." (1 Peter 3:1, 2, 7)
A lot of men as well as women, have problems with selfishness! Their only real interest is their own gratification, with very little concern for their partner. This is one of the "trouble makers" in a marriage.
SEPARATE BANK ACCOUNTS AND SEPARATE BEDS OFTEN LEAD TO SEPARATE LIVES AND EVENTUALLY DIVORCE!
"This is mine and that is yours", paves the way for jealousies and suspicion between husband and wife. Husbands often leave their wives with the little children, while they spend "time with the boys".
Often this leads to drinking, carousing and gambling. The wife sits at home heartbroken and the trouble begins in earnest.
Sometimes wives demand too much; modern furniture, elegant clothes, and new accessories. When this happens her husband and children suffer because of her compulsive, reckless and excessive buying sprees.
Money then becomes a problem with unpaid bills, rising tempers and high blood pressure!
Sometimes it is the husband who is irresponsible with the finances.
It's easy to start an argument over anything when there isn't enough money to meet the budget of the home.
Sometimes, husbands are miserly and stingy! I have met husbands who are so stingy that they do not allow their wives enough money to buy sufficient groceries for the family.
That is faulty budgeting and you can't blame his partner for feeling cheated. You can't expect her to feed and clothe the family without ample funds to do so!
It is most important for couples to seek counselling from their Pastor and his wife, on how to budget their money properly.
My advice to both husbands and wives: DO NOT BE STINGY WITH YOUR AFFECTION TO ONE ANOTHER, OR WITH YOUR TIME AND MONEY. BE GENEROUS WITH YOUR KISSES, AS WELL AS YOUR FINANCES!
6) DON'T BRING UP THE PAST MISTAKES OF YOUR PARTNER!
"If we confess our sins (to God) He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9)
All marriages will have some adjustments to make and there will be times of disagreements in any marital union.
It seems inevitable that there will be times of conflict, however the secret is to rectify the problem immediately! Once settled, do not seek to continue the battle or refer back to the disagreement.
Lay the dispute to rest as soon as possible and make things right with God and each other! Then, do not hold any grudges and refrain from bringing the subject up again.
LET IT REMAIN WHERE IT BELONGS - IN THE PAST, FORGIVEN AND FORGOTTEN!
In the heat of an argument, some couples resurrect old boyfriends or former mates. My advice to you is: Don't do it, it will bring nothing but discord and wounds that are difficult to heal.
St. Peter asked Jesus, "...Lord how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?
"Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven." (Matt 18:21-22)
The disciples then said: "Lord increase our faith." (Luke 17:5) It certainly takes a lot of faith and trust to be able to forgive a partner and believe that he or she has changed and will not commit that wrong again!
For Christians, it should be natural to forgive and reconcile. That is God's way! Jesus Christ through His sacrificial death and resurrection brought to the world, "The ministry of reconciliation." (Col. 1:20-22)
RECONCILIATION IS THE VERY HEART OF THE MESSAGE OF CHRIST, WHETHER IT IS A RIFT BETWEEN BRETHREN IN A CHURCH OR BETWEEN HUSBAND AND WIFE. (Matt 5:23-24)
Here are St. Paul's words on the subject: "And all things are of God, Who hath reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given us the ministry of reconciliation.
"That is that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.
"Now then we are as ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God." (2 Cor. 5:18-20)
7) DO NOT WASH YOUR DIRTY LINEN IN PUBLIC!
"Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed." (James 5:16)
If you have internal problems in the marriage, settle them internally. Do not involve outsiders, unless absolutely necessary. Then, let it be to the Pastor, not your neighbour, to whom you tell your story of grief .
After the little battle is over and you have "made up", you will be glad you hadn't broadcast your troubles.
A final Scripture for good measure: "Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned; behold the judge standeth before the door". (James 5:9)
All of us are vulnerable and prone to making mistakes, missing the mark and sinning against God and each other!
If one partner slips and falls temporarily, but has enough faith and desire to decide to get up again, that person deserves another chance!
That is why St. Paul said, "Brethren if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness, considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted." (Gal. 6:1)
I have known, however of cases where a faithful wife submitted to her husband, refusing to share with her parents or Pastor that she was being abused physically.
His mental cruelty and physical abuse toward her and the children was serious enough to warrant police protection. In such a case, the proper authorities should be notified at once!
Usually however, the couple's love for each other will win over abstinence, stubbornness, jealousies and pride. In these cases the problems will solve themselves. In conclusion, always remember to:
- Keep God in your lives.
- Stay best of friends.
- Remain sweethearts always.
- Say and do nice things to and for one another.
- Don't be selfish, stingy or domineering.
- Don't bring up the past mistakes or your partner.
- Don't wash your dirty linen in public.
And finally, work together in every area: budgeting, rearing the children, scheduling vacations, visiting friends and relatives.
In my opinion any couple following this advice will make it!
“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.” (2 Cor. 13:14)