The American family is crumbling before our eyes. The family portrait we once knew as husband, wife and children now makes up less than 25% of all the marriages in our country. Along with this, 60% of all marriages end in divorce and more than 40% of Americans think marriage is obsolete.
This has left many of us wondering, what went wrong?
The latest research shows that the primary cause of the disintegration of marriage is our increasing failure to hold our marriage commitments in high esteem. Marriage has become a “conditional contract” in which we’re committed only until it gets really hard and we don’t “feel fulfilled.”
Despite these dismal statistics, there is hope! Our hope lies in following God’s original “blueprint” for how marriage and families are designed to work.
Remember, marriage was God’s idea. He designed and created marriage to meet our deepest spiritual, emotional and physical needs. After He created Adam, God knew “it’s not good for man to be alone” (Gen 2:18). Then God brought Eve to Adam and began the first marriage.
“That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” (v. 24) God’s design and purpose for marriage was that we would experience oneness and true intimacy with one another.
And it’s still His desire for us today. Even if we come from a dysfunctional past, it is still possible to learn how to love one another the way God intended.
We can do this by following God’s instructions for marriage:
1. Submit to God and to each other. If God designed marriage, shouldn’t we entrust Him with our relationships? The fact is that apart from Him, the designer, our marriage won’t work. We’re also instructed to have mutual submission to each other. “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (Eph. 5:21) When we do this, we give our mate what he or she needs.
2. Learn how to love your mate. Love your partner in the way God uniquely designed him/her to receive and respond to love. We can learn to love our spouse in ways that build a bond and create stability and an environment for him or her to flourish.
3. Remember that your marriage has an even bigger purpose than just your personal happiness. Yes, God did create marriage to give fulfillment and pleasure. And He intended the family to give stability, culture, and procreation. But the story doesn’t end there. In the bigger picture, we become living examples of Christ’s loving relationship with His church when we follow His design for marriage.
For more information, check out our series “Marriage that Works.” In it, you’ll discover what it looks like to have a healthy, Biblical marriage and home-life. It’s my prayer that these resources will help you understand God’s design for building marriages that love and last a lifetime.
Founder & Teaching Pastor, Living on the Edge
Chip Ingram is the CEO and teaching pastor of Living on the Edge, an international teaching and discipleship ministry. A pastor for over thirty years, Chip has a unique ability to communicate truth and challenge people to live out their faith. He is the author of many books, including The Real God, Culture Shock and The Real Heaven. Chip and his wife, Theresa, have four grown children and twelve grandchildren and live in California.More Articles by Chip