If I asked three of the most esteemed and educated counselors, “Why don’t marriages work anymore?” they would give me three of the most common causes:
Ongoing, unresolved conflict, a lack of communication, and a lack of commitment.
But I think that all of these issues are not the root problems in marriage. Rather, I think that they are merely symptoms of the real problem. There’s something deeper going on.
What’s the real reason?
Imagine a jigsaw puzzle. You know, those really difficult ones with 150 pieces that you put together on your coffee table? Except imagine this one has 15,000 pieces! Now, imagine you don’t have the box top to show you what the finished puzzle is actually supposed to look like. It would be almost impossible to put together, right?
If marriage was a puzzle, most couples don’t have the “box top.”
If they did, then they’d realize that there’s a system about how all the pieces in their relationship work and fit together.
They’d know that conflict, communication, and commitment issues are not the root problems in marriage, but they are merely symptoms of the real problem.
They’d know that it’s normal to have times in marriage that are particularly difficult, such as times of financial pressure and demands at work and times of temptation.
They’d know that there are going be times of absolute frustration and anger and wounding one another. And the box top would tell them there’s a way to move through these difficult times.
What is this “box top”? It’s God’s design for marriage.
God’s design is that husbands and wives would have oneness. We’re creatures that have a spirit, a soul, and a body. So God wants us to have spiritual oneness, soul oneness and body oneness.
That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. (Genesis 2:24)
To have this oneness, God’s goal, first and foremost, is that there’s a spiritual relationship between a man and a woman and that we’re fellow worshipers before God.
I like to picture it as an equilateral triangle. God is at the top, because He has created marriage. Then at the bottom of the triangle there’s a man on one side and a woman on the other. Since God created us first and foremost for Himself, there’s an arrow that points up to God. Then at the bottom there’s an arrow between the man and the woman.
That’s why when a husband and a wife get closer to God, they naturally get closer to one another.
God designed marriage for procreation, for pleasure, for provision and for solving a loneliness problem. But His ultimate design in marriage was for His glory, to enhance His reputation, and to reveal who He is – holy, faithful, and generous.
To learn more about God’s design for marriage, check out Chip’s series Experiencing God’s Dream for Your Marriage and House or Home: Marriage Edition.
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