Marriage and Living Together
Alex Enabnit – Research Editor
For the past few weeks we have been reflecting on the phases we tend to go through when it comes to relationships. Today was all about the phases of marriage.
Marriage tends to get a bad rap, but looking through scripture we can see that God thinks very highly of it. After all, He is the inventor of the whole institution! But today there are trends that are a bit disconcerting, such as the increase of cohabitation. Among marriages today, over 65% are between couples who are already living together. Fifty years ago, it was closer to 10%.
In lieu of these trends, it may be important to ask the question – why even bother with marriage? First, God willed marriage to be – it is His design. Marriage is also a fantastic context for growth. And marriage provides many advantages, both personal and societal, that cohabitation does not.
So we talk about marriage as a “phase,” but the reality is, marriage has its own phases too! These aren’t hard set rules, but can be fairly typical of marriages:
- The days of romance. This is considered the “honeymoon” phase, where the experience of falling in love is ever-present. Optimism and joy characterize this stage.
- The days of reality. The honeymoon is over and reality sets in! The pressures of life, career, financial, or family pressures are fully felt.
- The days of resentment. The blame game starts to get played in this stage. “You never,” “You always,” “You used to…” become all too common, and intimacy starts to dwindle.
- The days of rebellion. Criticism and cynicism rule this stage. Disrespect and contempt becomes the norm. The marriage starts to break apart, and if a marriage is going to end, it will most often do so here.
- The days of renewal. When a couple finally decides to reach out and ask for help; help from God; help from friends; help from pastors; help! This is a conscious decision to return to the days of romance and rekindle that love.
So what is the big secret to making a marriage work? WORK! As Cal read Ephesians 5, he reminded us that marriage is about putting your spouse first. It’s about a mutual submission, not a contractual agreement where you agree to do something in return for something else. It’s more like a covenant – a “whatever it takes” arrangement. No loopholes, no exit clauses.
How is your marriage doing? What “phase” would you consider yourself to be in? Are you feeling stuck? Visit Centralaz.com/marriageresources for books, studies, Central’s counseling referral list, and upcoming classes and mentoring that is available to help you right now.
Verses and quotes from the message:
Proverbs 18:22; Hebrews 13:4a; Mark 10:6-9; 1 Corinthians 13:4-8; Ephesians 5:21-33
“By all means marry; if you get a good wife, you’ll become happy. If you get a bad one, you’ll become a philosopher.” Socrates
“When a girl marries, she exchanges the attentions of all the other men of her acquaintance for the inattention of just one.” Helen Rowland
“You don’t marry one person; you marry three: the person you think they are, the person they are, and the person they are going to become as a result of being married to you.” – Richard Needham
“An object in possession seldom retains the same charm that it had in pursuit.” Pliny the Younger, Letters
“More marriages might survive if the partners realized that sometimes the better comes after the worse.” Doug Larson
“Christianity isn’t about getting what we deserve or giving to others what they deserve. It’s about getting what we don’t deserve and doing for other what was done for us. That reduces marriage to a submission competition—a race to back of the line.” Andy Stanley
“Almost no one is foolish enough to imagine that he automatically deserves great success in any field of activity; yet almost everyone believes that he automatically deserves success in marriage.” Sydney J. Harris
You Move – Central Music
My Heart is Yours – Kristian Stanfill
O Come to the Altar – Elevation Worship
For Your Glory – Central Music