I love marriage. I love the idea of marriage and the process of marriage. But marriage isn’t easy. It’s actually hard to have a good marriage. One of the toughest verses in the Bible to obey is Ephesians 5:31, which says, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”
The process of blending two very different people is what causes stress to many marriages. In my work with marriages, I’ve identified five of the major obstacles to making a great ONE out of two very different people. Sometimes simply understanding what obstacles exist and knowing they are common to most marriages – you are not alone – can help us learn to see them not as obstacles, but as God-given opportunities to grow a stronger “one flesh.”
The five major obstacles I have seen are:
1. Lack of Biblical knowledge about marriage
There is very little premarital training in churches today or even in most homes that are raising children who will one day marry. When my boys got their driver’s license we sent them to four Saturdays of classes. How much training do most of us get for marriage? The fact is that most of us are somewhat surprised by marriage and we don’t really know how to make it work. We need to do a better job training people for marriage.
2. Differences between men and women
Men and women are designed differently by God – not just physically, but emotionally. We look at the world differently. We process information differently. We expect different things from relationships. We have wrongly tried to equalize everything when it comes to men and women. We need equality, but must never forget the master Designer made men and women differently.
3. Communication styles
Because of our differences, men and women communicate differently. Men tend to communicate thinking to thinking, while women tend to communicate heart to heart. One of the reasons Cheryl and I might have conflict is that I say things I intend for her mind to hear and it’s received with her heart. We need to remember that we communicate differently.
4. Outside influences
Every marriage has influences beyond their immediate control, but that have profound and direct impact on the marriage. Some of these influences are: children, relatives, friends, stress, and the devil. All of these are normal influences in any marriage. Some of them are even welcome influences in the marriage. The key is not to let any of them distract from the plan God has for the marriage to become one flesh.
5. Differing goals and objectives
Remember that every couple is made up of two unique, differently designed individuals. That means each one brings unique qualities, personalities, and opinions to the relationship. Again, that’s part of God’s overall design to make two people one.
Remember that God didn’t promise this would be easy. In fact, the very next line after the difficult verse I shared in the opening of this column says, “This is a profound mystery” (Ephesians 5:32). If you are married, praise God for this mystery.
About the Author
Ron Edmondson is a pastor and church leader, passionate about planting churches, helping established churches thrive, and assisting pastors. As pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Lexingon, Kentucky, Ron has ministered to thousands. His writings can be accessed at ChurchLeaders.com.