Written by Matt and Debra Trusela
On June 1 of this year, my wife and I celebrated thirty years of marriage. We wish we could say it was easy to get to 30 years, and that over that time, we always felt “in love.” Actually, when we married, like many young couples today, we lacked maturity and a real understanding of God’s plan and purpose for marriage.
We fought often, and especially over “the big three”–sex, finances, and how to rightly raise three children. Looking back with 20/20 hindsight and the knowledge we have today, we both married for some of the wrong reasons. Looking at the scriptures, God has a lot to say about relationships and specifically marriage.
Be fruitful and multiply
Marriage is supposed to be both enjoyable and productive–the two shall become one. The marriage relationship should be ever increasing in oneness and a source of great mutual comfort.
We didn’t really think much about how Proverbs 27:17 or James 1:2-4 might apply to the marriage relationship. If only someone had warned us and told us the truth–marriage is hard work and it is often a school of hard knocks!
Every marriage has the potential to experience great joy, comfort and satisfaction. But the real purpose of marriage is to refine, mature and develop character. Marriage is a high calling and great responsibility. As the marriage goes, so goes the family, so goes the church and so goes the social fabric of society. To reach this higher calling, we must look to the highest power – God – and accept His plan as well as His process.
The God that created marriage knows how to use the marriage relationship as a foundational instrument to make us more like Christ and more beneficial to the body of Christ- His church. In short, God will use my spouse to make me more like Him. The marriage relationship is God’s proving and purification ground – our love for Him and faith in Him is tested with every opportunity to love our spouse like Christ has loved us.
If we can trust God and embrace what He wants to do in each of us as individuals, He will do the changing in our spouse. As each individual grows in Godliness, the marriage relationship will be an ever increasing closeness with Him and oneness with each other. This oneness with Him and each other spiritually, psychologically, and physically is both divine and dynamic. When we are operating out of this oneness, our marriage is a model for others–a powerful witness and bright light of hope in a lost world.
It is sad to see so many marriages ending in divorce.
It is even more sad when children are in the crossfire of a struggling marriage that is in a free fall, heading toward divorce.
Why are so many people giving up so easily? Again, they entered into this sacred institution blindly and without a clear understanding of the true purpose of marriage. Furthermore, our instant gratification society has duped us into expecting marital bliss and most aren’t willing to do what is needed to get there. As I said, Debra and I married unaware and for some of the wrong reasons. Like many others, we married for superficial or wrong reasons–to avoid loneliness, combine incomes, to legitimize sex outside of wedlock, to escape a bad family environment and because it seemed like the next logical thing to do. I hope you find encouragement in the fact we are proof that God is a more than able expert at making masterpieces out of any mess.
As marriage coaches and speakers for the past 18 years, we have compiled a list of reasons not to get married that will serve as a list of things to consider and discuss before you make that ultimate commitment before God and man. We wish someone had shown us a list like this beforehand. Hopefully, you will find it helpful. It may stir the pot. If it does, consider it all joy. There is no time like before the wedding to make sure you are making “the right” decision for the right reasons with full awareness. Aside from that, there is no better time to develop and exercise good communication and conflict resolution skills.
Here we go:
- You are unwilling to put the needs of another person before your own. Each individual must come to the marriage intending to contribute more than they consume. If this is more about what you can get than what you plan to give, if you can only be a loving person when you are being loved, then grow up or get yourself a horse and get outta town! Marriage is not for the selfish and faint of heart. It’s an institution for the brave, all about sacrifice, compromising and working in compliment with your spouse. That’s going to take a lot of give. Phil 2:4, Galatians 5:13, Colossians 3:23-24.
- You are easily offended, carry grudges and are unwilling to forgive. If you tend to justify your own bad behavior when someone behaves badly toward you, you are probably too insecure and too sensitive to get married. Furthermore, this immature quid pro quos is a recipe for escalation and heated battles. Immature fools know how to make a minor irritation into a major festering sore. We must be quick to forgive and keep accounts short. If you get married, you will need to be humble and objective enough to confront and dialogue about all issues, big and small, without the emotional drama and with gentleness before the heat rises! James 1:19, Colossians 3:13.
- You are a mentally, emotionally or physically a manipulative or abusive person. This is a major warning sign, and one that you should be able to see shortly into the relationship. Do not be seduced by flowers and sweet apology cards, or the great “make-up sex” that follows frequent outbursts of manipulation or physical rage. You can run but you cannot hide. It may be best to run like the wind! Unresolved issues like this will often increase overtime without professional help. Are you prepared and trained to be apart of the solution? Buyer BEWARE! Ephesians 5:11, Titus 3:10.
- You are unwilling to commit and be trustworthy. Without a strong commitment and foundation of trust, a marriage is worthless. It’s a “no matter what we face“ commitment combined with a completely uncompromising trust that gives marriage its true value. These are the keys to ever increasing openness and vulnerability. And these are the keys to true intimacy. Little things matter–like doing what you said, when you said you would. Small white lies and little exaggerations are actually a BIG thing in disguise. If you lack integrity and cannot be the same person with or without your spouse around, then be honest and don’t marry anybody. They deserve better; actually much better, and that’s a truth you can trust. Numbers 30:2, Psalm 41:11-13, Matthew 5:37, Malachi 2:25.
- You have an unresolved addiction problem. You cannot have more than one love. If you love your work, ministry kudos, food, gambling, drugs, alcohol or pornography, more than your potential spouse, choose the addiction and go on your way, or get help. You are free to waste your own life, but not someone else’s. Matthew 6:24, Colossians 3:5.
- Your career is the most important thing in your life. The proper alignment of priorities is God first, spouse second and then family – work, hobbies, friends even ministry fall in line behind the first three. Get the drift? If you cannot decide to choose the people over profit and time over treasure, then just go for the dough. Matthew 6:33, Matthew 16:26.
- You do not share the same beliefs, values, life priorities or vision for your future. Few things divide relationships like differences of faith. You best be on the same page, or at least talking about the same God, before signing the dotted line. If she practices Voo Doo and you are devout Jew, this will certainly come between you once the light of the candles dim and the bloom falls off the roses. Further more, if you see a future with three kids and she wants three puppies instead, the time to discuss details is before, and not after you walk down the aisle. 2 Corinthians 6:14, Proverbs 29:18.
- You are unwilling to be an active partner sexually with your spouse. Face it. Sex is part of the marriage deal. If you think you can ignore this topic, there will be an elephant in your bedroom. Furthermore, if you can’t talk about sex now, then you won’t be able to talk comfortably about it later. An open discussion of future sexual expectations and even past sexual history before the marriage is a vital precursor to future realities beyond the honeymoon suite. Genesis 2:24 -25, 1 Corinthians 7:1-7.
- You are unwilling to agree on how to handle finances, parenting or life decisions. This is a lot like reason number one. Marriage is not about yours or mine and ours. It is all “both of yours” in one big bundle. If you cannot come up with a cooperative plan on how to bundle with a bow the combining of your cash, parenting of the kids and coping with potential future challenges, you are planning to fail miserably. Mark 3:25, Amos 3:3, Ephesians 4:1-6.
- You expect your spouse to change for the better after you get married. Everyone changes after they get married so expect that. It’s a 100% guaranteed. The problem is, not all changes will be for the better and those changes may not align with the ones you may have in mind – He may not get smarter or more spiritual and she won’t suddenly start an exercise regimen. If the thorns on the rose bush are evident before the marriage, they usually get bigger and sharper once they are planted. A few cliché’s come to mind: One is about making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, and the other is about a walking duck. Here is the hard truth….You cannot control or change anybody and you shouldn’t even try. If you struggle to accept your future spouse now with small blemishes, the future acne may be intolerable. That said, this really does apply to any of the first nine reasons not to get married. If your future spouse has any one of the aforementioned character flaws, marriage for now is not the antidote. Get the help you need now to get you ready for the commitment of your lifetime.
If you are already married and now recognize some of these signs in your marriage, it is not a green light to head for the divorce court. And please do not give up. No one provided this list for my wife and I. We personally struggled with numbers 1,2,6,8, 9 and 10. Nothing is impossible if you share a common pursuit of Godliness. Be thankful that this undiscovered landscape has come more clearly into view. Be confident that God will use your spouse to develop your Christ-like character, transform you into the mature man or woman of God he wants, and create a God-honoring dynamic marriage.
Begin with a prayer of confession and repentance.
Welcome the opportunity to grow, and become more and more like Jesus.
Embrace it all with humility and openness, roll up your sleeves and seek counseling if needed.
Do the hard work and embrace the process and real purpose of marriage. Great shall be your reward.
Remember, Debra and I started poorly, but have confidence that we will finish the race well. Our latter years have been brighter and much sweeter than our former. Do not grow weary in doing well (what’s right before the Lord). We are now reaping a harvest and enjoying a honeymoon season that is far better than our first honeymoon. Romans 8:28, Jeremiah 29:11, Jeremiah 32:39.