“Those who marry will face many troubles in this life.” (1 Corinthians 7:28)
Leave it to the Apostle Paul to speak hard truths. He’s correct. Marriage can be very difficult. Every month at MarriageToday, we receive letters from couples who are struggling.
While the details vary, the story they tell is often the same. It’s a story about trying to undo the damage that has been done. It’s about the wounds caused by the marriage-killers rampant in our society: infidelity, pornography, abuse and stress.
I’ve seen recent studies suggesting that the divorce rate in America has begun to decline over the last few years. And of course that’s news we like to hear. But I suspect divorce is declining only because fewer people are getting married.
Many young people are electing to cohabitate instead of getting married. More and more people simply choose to stay single. The temptation and anxiety associated with marriage is so strong these days that people are afraid to make the commitment.
One study that concerns me most was conducted by the National Center for Family and Demographic Research, and revealed the divorce rate for people over fifty years old has actually doubled in the last two decades. Out of all divorces in our country, 25 percent of them occur between couples over the age of fifty.
In years past, if you made it beyond two or three decades of marriage, you went the distance. That’s not the case anymore. Making it to “the empty nest” is no guarantee of marriage success.
And yet, I still have an optimistic view of marriage. I don’t think God intended marriage to be a constant source of frustration and difficulty. I don’t think it’s something we have to “endure” to become better people.
And I absolutely don’t believe God intended marriage to be dull or ordinary. A marriage modeled after God’s plan can be enormously fulfilling and exciting, full of fun and adventure. When done right, marriage is the most rewarding experience a person can have this side of eternity.
How do I know? Because I’ve seen it happen in my own marriage. God brought Karen and me back from the brink of divorce. I’ve seen it in other marriages, too. After more than thirty years of counseling, the one truth I hold most dear is that no marriage is beyond help. Any marriage can have a 100 percent chance of success.
Any couple, regardless of their baggage or heartbreak, can rebuild a strained and broken marriage into a love affair that is divorce-proof, affair-proof, boredom-proof and disappointment-proof.
I believe these things because I’ve seen them happen again and again by couples who build their marriage on God’s principles rather than the world’s. But to make it the case in your marriage, you also must have an optimistic view of marriage. You have to be open to God’s teaching and willing to pursue it.
Examine your heart and attitude. Are you hopeful about your marriage? That attitude of hope is where healing begins.