"They are no longer two, but one.
Therefore what God has joined together,
let man not separate."
Let's return to our panel of six hundred marriage "experts." If their first recommendation for success in marriage was a Christ-centered home, what was second on their list?
It was yet another back-to-basics concept—namely, committed love. These couples had lived long enough to know that a weak marital commitment usually leads to divorce. One participant wrote:
Marriage is no fairy-tale land of enchantment. But you can create an oasis of love in the midst of a harsh world by grinding it out and sticking in there.
Perfection doesn't exist. You have to approach the first few years of marriage with a learner's permit to work out your incompatibilities. It is a continual effort.
Those views don't sound particularly romantic, do they? But they do carry the wisdom of experience. Two people are not compatible simply because they love each other and are both professing Christians. Many young people assume that the sunshine and flowers that characterized their courtship will continue for the rest of their lives. Don't you believe it! It is naïve to expect two unique and strong-willed individuals to fit together easily like a couple of machines. Even gears have multiple cogs with rough edges that must be honed before they will work in concert.
That honing process usually occurs in the first years of marriage. What often happens at this time is a dramatic struggle for power in the relationship. Who will lead? Who will follow? Who will determine how the money is spent? Who will get his way or her way in times of disagreement? Everything is up for grabs in the beginning, and the way these early decisions are made will set the stage for the future.
If both partners come into the relationship prepared for battle, the foundation will begin to crumble.
Therein lies the danger. Abraham Lincoln said, quoting the Lord Jesus, "A house divided against itself cannot stand" (see Mark 3:25). If both partners come into the relationship prepared for battle, the foundation will begin to crumble. The apostle Paul gave us the divine perspective on human relationships—not only in marriage but in every dimension of life. He wrote, "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves" (Philippians 2:3).
That one verse contains more wisdom than most marriage manuals combined. If heeded, it could virtually eliminate divorce from the catalog of human experience—no small achievement, considering that more than one million marriages break apart in the United States every year. If you want yours to be different, I urge you to commit now to "sticking in there" during the newlywed phase, the middle years, and your golden age together.5 Essentials for Lifelong Intimacy
By Dr. James Dobson