When you look around the world today, and you see the spate of divorce here and there, there is no need for you to look further before arriving at the conclusion that most marriages are not healthy. When a marriage stays unhealthy for a long period of time, divorce is usually its final destination. Sometimes, you can view it from the angle of someone who had been sick and bedridden for a long time, the doctors and everyone had tried all they could to save such an individual, but in the end, the person died.
Now, what many people witnessed or heard is that the person is no more, but a lot didn't know the periods or the number of years the person had been sick. That is how marriages and divorces are. And so, you hear couples say they are considering divorce because of their 'irreconcilable differences'. And the reason there are irreconcilable differences is because a lot of people go into marriage without even finding out why God wants them to marry the person they are saying 'Yes I Do' to. Marital institution is beyond the frivolities and the 'effizys' that we see it being characterised with today.
Marriage is sacred, it is spiritual and its sanctity must be kept within the confines of what God has said marriage is. So, in this piece, we will be examining healthy marriage and healthy family growth.
Characteristics of an Healthy Marriage
* It is permanent
Marriage is not what you enter into for some time. The marriage institution, once entered into, is until forever. There is no room for divorce or separation or whatsoever. Those who go into marriage and later got divorced or separated do not fully know what marriage entails before they embark on it. The marriage institution is permanent. Matthew 19:5-6 says: "and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate."
That tells you that in an healthy marriage, there is nothing like going for a divorce. Someone may then say, but the Scriptures gives an instance where a man could divorce his wife. That is true. But the truth is, if you understand what marriage is, the thought of adultery will not even cross your mind; not to even talk about engaging in one. Hebrews 13:4 tells us that "Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge." If a man or a woman understands the tone of this Scripture, he or she will not engage in sexual immoralities while married. And even at that, anyone who has considered divorce on the grounds of sexual immorality is not allowed to re-marry; as long as that his or her partner remains alive.
All these examples is to tell us that the institution of marriage is permanent, God does not like divorce whatsoever. In fact, in Malachi 2:16, God said He hates divorce. So, why should anyone like what God hates in marriage? This is why you must think about it, and understand marriage from God's point of view, before embarking on it.
Listen to Podcast: Healthy Marriage and Healthy Family Growth
* It is Sacred
Marriage is holy. It is not just a covenant between a man and a woman alone, but a covenant between God, the man and the woman involved and witnessed by people. Marriage is also a picture of Christ and the Church (Ephesians 5:32). This is what makes the marriage institution a sacred entity. God is aware that you are married and He holds you responsible and accountable for that marriage. That is why if you read Ecclesiastes 4:12 in the light of marriage, the third person in that threefold cord is God Himself. A healthy marriage is the one that God is involved in.
* A Healthy Marriage is Exclusive
When marriages allow third parties human interference, then it breaks the rule of exclusivity. The rule of exclusivity in marriage says what God has joined together, let no man put asunder or separate (Mark 10:9). You know, most marriages today have become unhealthy because the parties allowed themselves to be fed lies from the outside. Third parties human interference could be from friends, from in-laws or even from the devil himself. So, a healthy marriage is the one that holds the principles of exclusivity very dearly and important.
Things That Makes Or Can Make A Healthy Marriage
Love, is where a healthy marriage starts from. Love is the foundation of any and every marriage. When you take away love from the equation of marriage, then you have taken away the vital element that balances the equation. Under no circumstances should a marriage be built on infatuation. Infatuation is like a smoke that dissipate into the air, but love is what keeps the bond of peace in healthy marriages. Let us read the story of Jacob and Rachel to corroborate this very assertion. Because of love, Jacob was willing and able to serve seven years, and an additional seven more years so that he could marry Rachel. Genesis 29:18-29.
Ephesians 5:25 & 33 tells us: "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her..... Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband." Love is the glue that keeps the marriage intact. And in case you are wondering what kind of love I am talking about here, it is the Agape love. I know you are familiar with the Eros kind of love; that one has its limitations in marriage. The Agape kind of love is unconditional, it is enduring and it is the God-kind of love.
*Waiting on the Lord Together (In Faith, Prayers and Fasting)
In healthy marriages, husband and wife wait on the Lord together. They both believe and trust God to come through for them, even in difficult and challenging times. This they do through faith, prayers and fasting. It is not that one of them is believing God to come through, and the other one is not just interested in waiting. Apostle Paul wrote in 1Corinthians 7:5, it says: "Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer, and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control." That passage tells us clearly that husband and wife should pray and fast together. Apart from their individual fasting and praying life, there should also be the couple's prayer and fasting day.
Why must husband and wife pray and fast together? The Scriptures says one would chase a thousand and two shall put ten thousand to flight. Don't be like Elkanah, a religious husband who would shower his wife with gifts and love, but never joins her to pray and trust God for that heartfelt desires of hers (1 Samuel 1:4-6). Husband and wife must deliberately cultivates the this habit of waiting on the Lord together, both in faith and in the place of prayers. The story of Abraham and Sarah as well is a perfect example for this. Genesis 17:1-8, 15-22; 21:1-7 . When married couples pray together, it brings health and vitality to their marriage.
This is very key for healthy marriages. Husband and wife must be able to understand themselves perfectly, because the devil thrives in an atmosphere of misunderstanding. If you don't want the devil to make a mess of your marriage, you must give understanding a perfect place in your marriage. 1 Peter 3:7 has a stern warning for the man over this matter. It says "Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered." That passage is very straightforward, isn't it?
Healthy Family Growth
When we are talking about healthy family growth, it encompasses both physical growth and spiritual growth, and we can see this assertion in the book of (Genesis 1:27). Therefore, healthy marriages are precursor to healthy family growth. And when families are healthy, we understand we would have better societies because families are the smallest unit of every societies. When a marriage is founded on God, it grows healthy and the families emanating from such marriages are also healthy as well. So, a healthy family growth is founded upon the following points discussed below:
*Parents Must Mirror God Before Their Children
“Now this is the commandment, and these are the statutes and judgments which the Lord your God has commanded to teach you, that you may observe them in the land which you are crossing over to possess, 2 that you may fear the Lord your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you, you and your son and your grandson, all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged. 6 “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
Deuteronomy 6:1-2, 6-9
How can Parents Mirror God Before Their Children?
1. In Fear of the Lord and His commandment
2. Walking in His statutes
3. Obeying His commandments
*Train Up Your Children In The Way of The Lord
Proverbs 22:6 says: "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it." A child that is not trained in the way of the Lord would end up becoming a thorn in the flesh of his or her parents. Psalms 127:3 says children belongs to the Lord, and this is the more reason why they have to be raised according to His ways. And training a child in the way of the Lord begins from the parents mirroring God before the children. God said of Abraham, "I trust him because he would command his children after me" (Genesis 18:19).
And if you read the Scriptures, commanding their children after the Lord was the clear-cut difference between Abraham and Eli in terms of raising their children. Eli failed woefully in this particular responsibility that God needed to step in and destroy his entire lineage (1 Samuel 3:11-18).
Thanks for reading.