The subtitle may make you chuckle, however as Christians we have the perfect example of how to divorce ourselves. Jesus laid down His life for the church, which is the body of Christ. In this body, we are members. To stay married forever means that each spouse will have to put the needs of the marriage, the household, and their spouse above themselves.
As we grow in Christ, we learn to die to self and live for God; to be His servants in spreading the Good News, and in living lives that display we are proud to be Christians. Now since we live in this manner towards the world and before God, why is it so difficult to live this way with our spouse?
In the Word, James asks the question: What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have…You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. —James 4:1-2
Avoid a Power Struggle
Marriage can be a power struggle that will continue until one person gives in, gives up, or decides to dig in.
When couples are first married, each person is filled with grace for the other. In the throngs of newly married love, no one wants to hurt the other’s feelings, and usually thinks everything they do is cute. However, after a few months, living habits begin to clash. One never replaces the toilet paper, the other just keeps shoving trash in the bag instead of taking it out.
Each person wants his or her need fulfilled, grace dissipates, and quarreling sets in. For many couples, a few clashes and some communication straightens out the small things. However, when each person wants things their way, and becomes willing to resort to different methods to achieve their own end, a power struggle ensues. This kind of behavior causes strife and dissension, and can lead to a parting of the way, or an unhappy marriage.
In the Word, God tells us “You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.” —Leviticus 19:18
Talking it out
And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these. —Mark 12:29-31
You have to ask yourself “Do I have a closer neighbor than my spouse?” When you begin to view your spouse in this manner, you will understand your reactions may have to change. As a couple, you will need to openly communicate. This will mean saying what you want instead of dropping hints, using disparaging remarks, or trying to exercise control over behavior that you find offensive.
For example, if one spouse wants to go out alone with same sex friends, this will mean the other spouse may have to stay home alone. This can lead to feelings of neglect and insecurity. Instead of arguing, have a conversation before the event occurs. The conversation involves listening, so practice loving your spouse more than yourself and consider what your spouse has to say.
Why does the person want to go out alone with friends? Why does the person feel this is neglect? After the feelings and reasons are in the open, as individuals you will have to decide if you are being selfish, unwilling to relinquish a night out alone instead of a night out together, or if you are just jealous of your spouse’s time. When each partner releases selfish behavior, they are loving their spouse as themselves.
Becoming One Flesh
Can two walk together, except they be agreed? Amos 3:3 (KJV)
This simple example shows how spouses can come to agreement. Loving your spouse as yourself means being honest with yourself about what is bothering you, and being honest with your spouse. Loving your spouse as yourself means laying yourself aside at times for the sake of the person you have married.
Couples will discover that, over time, they will develop a synergy, and surprisingly actually become one flesh.