How to Have A Joyous Marriage!
by Roderick C. Meredith
Here are "keys' to help make your marriage special! These insights and tested
principles will help you build your marriage into a precious relationship of joy
HJM4 Edition 1.3, May 1996
This booklet is not to be sold! It has been provided as a free public
educational service by the Global Church of God
© 1993 GLOBAL CHURCH OF GOD All rights reserved. Printed in the U.S.A.
Editor in Chief
Roderick C. Meredith Executive Editor
Raymond F. McNair Managing Editor
Jeffrey H. Patton Associate Editor
Gary Foster Associate Editor
Thomas E. Robinson Assistant to the Editor
Bradley J. Mitchell Contributing Editor
Ronald B. Nelson Art Director
Karen Myers Art Assistant
Donna Prejean Business Manager
J. Edwin Pope Circulation
Wayne Pyle Technical Advisor
Eric T. Myers Information Systems
Sanford Beattie Information Systems
With tears in their eyes, dozens and scores of women have told me how miserable
their marriages were. They obviously wish with all their hearts that things were
better, but they don't know what to do.
"My husband won't really open up and talk with me about our problems", many
"My psychologist told me to go have an affair and I would feel better," one
woman said. "But I know that's wrong and I just can't do that!"
In our "now generation," most folks don't think of the long-term consequences of
their actions, and our acceptance of "quickie" marriages and divorces only
compounds the problem. Why try to work through all the problems in your marriage
when you can just divorce and feel better right now?
In an outstanding recent article, former Secretary of Education, William J.
Bennett, made these insightful comments: "...but during the same recent 30-year
period there has been a 560% increase in violent crime; a 419% increase in
illegitimate births; a quadrupling in divorce rates; a tripling of the
percentage of children living in single-parent homes; more than a 200% increase
in the teenage suicide rate; and a drop of almost 80 points in SAT scores....!"
If you wish to avoid the misery of this foolish generation, then read carefully
and prayerfully the pages to follow. For we are going to discuss seven vital
keys to building and enriching the very basis of all decent society--your
marriage and your family.
I. Commitment is basic
The expression "till death do us part" may seem old fashioned or passé to many
young people. But those same couples may be suffering loneliness, emptiness and
misery if they leave that concept out of their marriages.
Yet today, most people take for granted the modern option of leaving their mate
and forsaking their marriage vows. Many couples plan for the eventuality of
divorce by having a lawyer write up a prenuptial agreement. Then they promise to
stay together for life, but insist on acting "prudently" to protect their assets
in case the marriage doesn't last.
This idea may seem wise and prudent, but is it really?
The common acceptance of the "escape hatch" of an easy divorce creates a vicious
cycle. The more some people divorce, the easier it seems for others to do
likewise. And the breakdown of a society has begun!
Nearly all thoughtful men and women realize that a stable home and family is
basic for a decent society. As our homes and marriages come apart, so the
wildness, ruthlessness and violence in our society will increase.
It is vital that we all grasp that the basis for marriage itself is the supreme
purpose of our Creator! That's right! If you leave the great God who made us
male and female out of the picture, then human reason is the only basis for
anything--and absolute chaos will ensue.
It is God who said:
"Let us make man in our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion
over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over
all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." So God
created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and
female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be
fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish
of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on
the earth" (Genesis 1:26-28).
God instituted marriage
We see here that it is God who made us male and female. And His first command to
humans was to "multiply"--obviously implying marriage and home.
God the Father is the Author of marriage. In Matthew 19, Jesus gave us some
principles concerning marriage. The Pharisees tested His teaching on the subject
by asking, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?"
In other words, can a man put away his wife for just any reason? They distorted
what Moses had said in the Old Testament about putting a wife away, and would
even use a pimple, a wart or almost anything as an excuse to put their wives
And He answered and said to them, "Have you not read that He who made them at
the beginning made them male and female," and said, "For this reason a man shall
leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become
one flesh"? (verse 4-5).
God made the man and the woman for each other. He created the man and his wife
to complement one another physically, psychologically, emotionally and mentally
so they could live a balanced and happy life together.
Jesus taught that a man should leave his father and his mother and cleave to his
If you do have to bring senile or infirm in-laws to your home later, after the
marriage is firmly established, then that's different. But at the beginning, and
certainly for the first several years, normally, you're to leave relatives and
cleave to your wife or your husband.
Throughout your married life, always remember that it is GOD who made you "one."
In a true marriage, a man and woman covenant before God to take each other as
mates for life. Under all normal circumstances, you should stay together. If
need be, you should pray and work to save your marriage.
In Malachi 2:13-16, our Creator shows why He sometimes withholds His blessing:
You cover the altar of the LORD with tears, with weeping and crying; so He does
not regard the offering anymore, nor receive it with good will from your hands.
Yet you say, "For what reason?" Because the LORD has been witness between you
and the wife of your youth, with whom you have dealt treacherously; yet she is
your companion and your wife by covenant. But did He not make them one, having a
remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring. Therefore take
heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth.
"For the LORD God of Israel says that He hates divorce, for it covers one's
garment with violence," says the LORD of hosts. "Therefore take heed to your
spirit, that you do not deal treacherously."
Notice that God says plainly that He hates divorce!
So should you. That doesn't mean you hate divorced people. Neither does God.
Rather, He pities them and wishes that we humans would quit fighting and arguing
and learn to love one another.
If we would truly do this--and make a real commitment when we marry--then we
could work out any problems that might arise. We could learn the lessons of
giving, sharing and forgiving in a way that only marriage can teach. Our
faithfulness to our mates shows our Maker that our commitment to Him will also
II. Communication is vital
One of the greatest shortcomings in literally millions of marriages is the lack
of open and loving communication. Note that I said, "open and loving," not
shouting, criticizing or threatening.
This lack is especially discouraging to many wives. A young man will put his
best foot forward during the courtship. He will walk and talk for hours with a
pretty young woman he hopes to marry. His hormones are raging. So he will
confide in her, encourage and flatter her, do almost anything to get this
beautiful young woman to say "yes" and marry him.
But, not too many days or weeks after the marriage, a man may begin to withdraw.
He seems to forget that his sweetheart agreed to marry because she honestly
thought she was liked and respected as a person. She expected and hoped to be a
full partner in life with her future husband--sharing with him their mutual
plans, hopes and dreams.
However, when "hubby" starts coming home late with liquor on his breath and has
nothing to say, or when he eats dinner quickly and silently and then plops
himself in front of the TV, or when he spends most nights away from home playing
pool with "the boys"--that hurts!
So before you even become officially engaged, you had better become "best
friends" with your future mate--and mean it. You had better find out if you
truly have a whole range of interests in common--besides sex and romance!
In a truly happy marriage, the two individuals are to become like one person.
There is to be a oneness of mind, body, emotions, attitudes and a sharing in
nearly every aspect of life.
This doesn't mean that a man can never play basketball, handball, pool, or cards
with other men occasionally. Good masculine companionship once in a while helps
a husband to be more of a man. This gives him more confidence and more of a
release for a particular part of his nature that ought to be expressed with
But if a husband is always playing cards, basketball, baseball, or pool with
other men--or away from home trying to make it big on the job--then this takes
him mentally, emotionally and physically away from his wife and children. A
continuing practice of this is wrong! It is breaking the commandment of Christ
that a man is to cleave to his wife.
Every married man has the God-given responsibility to spend time at home with
his wife and children. Is this where a considerable amount of your time and
interest lies? Or is it always somewhere else, doing something else?
Where is your "heart"? How and where do you spend your time?
Spend time alone with your mate
Husbands and wives need special time together--sometimes apart even from the
children. Get a babysitter, if you can, and go out to dinner or to a concert
once in a while. You can walk, hand in hand, as you used to do when you were
courting and dating--dance together, talk together and love together.
You can even take short trips together. Then you will appreciate the children
more, because you've been away from them for a few days (not several weeks or
months) perhaps once or twice a year. This doesn't hurt them at all, if they are
properly trained and your family is emotionally close as it should be.
Look at some examples in the Bible. You'll find that men like Abraham, Isaac and
Jacob were away from their children far more than many of us today. It's a
matter of correctly training the children while you're with them, and giving
them a stable atmosphere and foundation for the remainder of their lives.
Of course, many don't have much opportunity to go someplace together, or can't
afford it. But there are other ways you can be alone together. You can begin by
sending the children to bed by eight or eight-thirty in the evening. Then you
will have an hour and a half or two hours together--before you go to bed.
You can listen to music together, read the Bible together occasionally, and do
other things together. Sometimes you can have a babysitter watch the children
while you and your wife take a long walk together.
A little thoughtfulness and tenderness can help a great deal!
Many of you men who have marriage problems should court your wife as you used to.
Practice the art of trying to cleave to her, and spend time together. Then you
will really understand your wife, and she will feel close to you mentally and
emotionally. Both of you will have more of the mutual understanding and
affection you used to have when you were first married.
But you do need to communicate in all those activities! Remember, love does not
automatically make one a skilled mind reader.
Men, be sure you don't let other things distract you--or create situations which
excuse you--from talking openly and genuinely with your mate about your deepest
interests and concerns in life. Let her know if you think something is missing
in your relationship. And truly listen to her with your heart as well as your
head when she talks to you about similar matters.
If you love your mate, tell him or her--say it frequently. Open up. If you share
your hopes and dreams with the love of your life, then your love will grow
deeper and be even more meaningful.
III. Set family goals together
A truly meaningful home and marriage ought to have a number of goals in mind
besides sexual fulfillment. Too often, young people are so consumed with sexual
interest that they neglect to build a home, an enduring family and a meaningful
life together. So when the sexual fireworks start to slow down after a few
months or years of marriage, these people feel a sense of letdown or betrayal.
God mentions one of the reasons He made man and woman one in marriage. Notice
again the inspired words of Malachi, "But did He not make them one, having a
remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring. Therefore take
heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth"
A young husband and wife normally ought to be planning for children, a real home,
a sense of family, stability and all that this implies. If both husband and wife
are working, they need to plan together to set aside money so she can stop
working for several years, at least, in order to have and rear children.
Couples should discuss what kind of home, education and family activities they
feel will work out best for them. They should regularly set little goals to work
on together. Then, as partners in their family enterprise, they should see that
these smaller goals all fit in with and support the fulfillment of their major
An illustration of working toward a smaller goal might include planning together
a summer vacation trip. Each partner might wish to do some reading and research
separately, talk to different friends, get ideas. Then, together, they can spend
time discussing alternatives, planning a tentative trip budget, and finalizing
This type of goal-sharing and planning is obviously increased when as couple has
children. Then they need to discuss regularly the childrens' health, development,
education, friends, neighborhood problems and their respective goals in life.
That is one reason, among many others, why having children often serves to give
greater strength and stability to a marriage.
Jesus Christ said to His disciples, "No longer do I call you servants, for a
servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends,
for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you" (John
Even the Son of God did not withhold from His friends the plans and programs He
and the Father had in mind. So you men, especially, open up and bring your wives
into the planning process of how and where you want to live in the future, where
you hope your career may take you and the goals you have in mind for yourself
and for the family as a whole. Make them feel like an integral part of the big
programs in your life.
IV. Marriage means giving
One of the greatest joys in life that everyone ought to experience is the joy of
giving: is seeing the deep appreciation, the radiant smiles and the joy of
others because you thought of them.
The Apostle Paul wrote, "I have shown in every way, by laboring like this, that
you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He
said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive'" (Acts 20:35).
Marriage is certainly one of the best places to learn to give. For when you are
constantly living with another person, when you are bound by God in marriage to
that person, you desperately need to learn to give and give and give in order
for that union to be as deeply happy and satisfying as it should be!
As the one God intended to take the lead, a husband ought to take the lead in
creating, in marriage, an atmosphere of giving and serving. Then the wife should
surely follow this lead so that each party is trying to give a wonderful life
and marriage to the other, to enrich their partner's life in every possible way.
Otherwise, if both partners are immature, selfish and just trying to "get", then
big trouble lies ahead!
You husbands especially need to remember that Christ gave Himself for the
That He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or
wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So
ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loves his wife loves
himself (Ephesians 5:26-28). Authorized (King James) Version.
Every right-minded man certainly desires to cherish and protect his wife. She is
his sweetheart, his companion, the mother of his children. He ought to realize
that she is part of him! "For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and
cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church" (verse 29).
Realizing that his wife is part of him, a man certainly ought to have a
solicitous and protective feeling toward his wife and sweetheart. He should
constantly be thinking of her welfare so that she does not strain or overdo; so
that her grace and beauty may be preserved throughout all of their married life.
A real man will notice when his wife is overworking and lighten her burdens
whenever possible. He will leap to action to lift heavy things for her, scrub
those burnt pans or vacuum for her when she is tired or over worked. He will
help her when she is sick, and protectively and lovingly watch over her in many
Of course, a man should not do this because he is nagged or henpecked into doing
it! And no right-minded wife would knowingly do this. If a wife makes demands
beyond reason upon her husband, it is his duty as the family's leader to set his
foot down and restore a proper balance in their relationship--though, as much as
possible, he still helps her out in sincere love and concern for their life
together. The woman also has her responsibilities, her particular duties in the
household, and she should gladly do them. But, help from her husband comes in as
an act of love--freely and fully given when she is sick, downcast or is suddenly
faced with an object too heavy to lift, a job too difficult for her to
accomplish without the physically stronger partner of the marriage giving of his
help and strength in love to his wife and sweetheart.
Learn this lesson, men! Your wives will repay you in a thousand ways over the
years to come if you learn to give this help when it is needed--and give it
freely and in kindness.
The Christian wife
Certainly every Christian woman ought to think about serving her husband--about
caring for his health and personal needs, about encouraging him, loving him and
helping him grow as a husband and father in every way she can.
One of the great tragedies of our inflationary society is that millions of young
wives are virtually forced to work outside the home! Often, they come home tired
and bedraggled at night. A wife in this situation lacks the zest and energy to
cook special meals, keep the house as she would wish to--let alone be an
enthusiastic sweetheart, companion and lover for her husband.
Each of you who read this need to meditate deeply about the quality of life you
desire. Think carefully about building a real family with children--and a wife
that is able to stay home and rear that family as our Creator certainly
The apostle Paul was inspired to instruct the older women:
That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love
their children, To be discrete, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their
own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed (Titus 2:4-5) Authorized
(King James) Version.
As Proverbs 31 tells us, a woman like this who gives herself to her family, to
building a real home--will indeed be honored both by God and by man. "Her
children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her"
If you can use your marriage and your family as a "training ground," to
unreservedly love, share and give to others, you will develop the greatest
characteristic of all. Then, from a strong, happy marriage as a base of strength,
that love can flow out from you and your mate to the rest of your family,
friends, neighbors and associates.
In every aspect of your married life, learn to practice the way of give. You
will not be sorry.
V. The ART of FORGIVING
To be happy and remain happy in marriage, you must not only give but also
forgive. There have never been two perfect people on earth, and so no marriage
has ever been truly perfect--as all long-married people understand.
You knew full well when you married that your husband or wife was not perfect.
So you must not hold them up to some unreasonable standard of perfection. If you
do, you will both be perfectly miserable.
When there are real misunderstandings and hurts--and there will be--you must
learn to forgive. As a real Christian, you are commanded to forgive all men--so
how much more your own mate!
Jesus Christ, the One who shed His blood for us, stated, "For if you forgive men
their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not
forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses"
You must ask God in prayer to grant you the spirit of forgiveness--the ability
to completely put away all resentment and animosity against others who have hurt
you. And then you need to practice this. Do it regularly. Build the habit of
forgiving others quickly, especially your own mate!
There are those who carry grudges. They often brood and fume and smolder over
little hurts and misunderstandings.
Are you like this?
If you are, you need to pray to God in heaven to help you get over this
tendency--and to completely forgive your mate for the literally dozens of little
hurts that can occur when two people live together.
Do you really enjoy making yourself miserable, your mate miserable and everyone
else miserable by carrying grudges around forever? If you really think about it,
very few of us really want this result.
So work on it.
Change your pattern of thinking. Don't allow yourself to get hurt so easily.
Pray your heart out to God who is called "the Father of mercies" (II Corinthians
1:3). As He forgives us again and again, so must we forgive others--including
The apostle Peter commands Christian men to honor their wives, "as being heirs
together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered" (I Peter
Peter then proceeds to give instructions that apply to all situations, but
especially the "marriage situation":
Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as
brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or
reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were
called to this, that you may inherit a blessing (verses 8-9).
Yes, we need to have compassion for our mates and forgive them regularly. We
need to be courteous and tenderhearted in marriage. For marriage is a wonderful
workshop for learning the art of giving, forgiving, kindness and mercy--if we
will prayerfully and unselfishly use it to help us build these qualities into
The apostle Peter asked Jesus, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me,
and I forgive him? Up to seven times?" (Matthew 18:21).
Think about it! Sometimes your mate will offend you (though you probably
shouldn't be so sensitive!) many times in one day!
Jesus understood. He knew that we all need forgiveness from God and from each
other again and again. So Jesus answered, "I do not say to you, up to seven
times, but up to seventy times seven" (verse 22).
So love your mate. Forgive your mate. Don't carry grudges.
Remember how difficult it must be for him or her to live with you! If you were
someone else, how would you like to have to put up with all the mistakes and
foibles that you exhibit almost every week of your life?
Remind yourself that you cannot be happy "hating" your mate. Learn to genuinely
forgive, forget and move forward to a truly joyous and satisfying life.
Which brings us to our next point.
VI. Romance and fun
Most courtships and marriages begin with romance and fun. The young couple
spends a lot of time together. They go to the beach, the mountains or the park.
They eat together. They go out dancing, or to the museum, libraries or movies.
Above all, they have long, intimate talks with each other--looking into each
other's eyes, exulting in the romance of love.
And they have fun.
In most cases, they laugh and kiss and kid around and really enjoy the getting-
to-know-you stage of courtship. Life takes on a special glow because of their
attraction to each other--and because they are using that attraction to enhance
and make special the sharing of all their activities and intimate moments
But all too often--a few weeks or months after the marriage--this fun and
romance begins to leave the marriage. Often, life becomes hum-drum and dull and
one or both marriage partners start asking themselves, "What went wrong?"
There are often a number of reasons, of course, but let's discuss two of the
most common reasons why a marriage loses its romance and zest.
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