By Fr. Jude B. Kuti
Whether you are single, married, divorced or separated, what you are about to read is important.
I once heard that there is a place in Nevada where divorce is common with 14.6% of its residents divorced and 2.4% separated. So wedding vendors felt foiled by the repeated trading in of wedding rings, gowns and other accessories. So many shops simply and boldly inscribe “wedding rings for rent.” Maybe rentable for 6 months, 2 years depending on how long the marriage would last.
The most important decision in your life is not the choice of school for your ward, neither is it even the plan to have babies. Marriage in my personal estimation is the most important decision most of us will make in his or her life. It is more important than buying a house or your first car.
I am certain that you know that you can buy an expensive house and have a horrible marriage. A lot of people have built beautiful houses but they can’t live in them, because they have spent more time and money on the house than they have on their marriage. Some buy a brand new car but they cannot drive in it together anymore because they do not speak to each other. It is interesting that most people’s cars last longer than their marriages. So we may ask ‘can my marriage outlast my career?’
We spend five or six years in elementary school, five or six years in High school, four or five years in the university totaling fourteen or sixteen years to prepare for a career. How many years did you spend preparing for your marriage? That is the reason most marriages run into difficulties – we were not and are not prepared for the institution of marriage. Probably many reading this article are even victims of a broken marriages. Some may have tried marriage and have vowed never to try marriage again. Consider this – When you get a car and the car is involved in an accident that wrecks it, you still buy another one. You don’t mind getting another car because you know how to drive. It’s interesting even how when you lose your job, you go all out to look for another. But you are not sure you will get another life partner because you are not sure how to manage that. Choosing a partner in life must be with prayerful consideration. One must take on board the advice of James in this task – “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” – James 1:5 We must seek God’s guidance and blessings when it comes to choosing a life partner.
And once married, commit the marriage to God through Christ because “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Philippians 4:13. So that God will be with you and your partner through all the challenges you face in the course of your marriage and help you surmount them.
Interestingly, it is not a commandment that you have to be married to gain eternal life. In fact nowhere in the Bible does God command us to be married. Just as you don’t have to be married to be saved, so also you don’t have to be married to be happy. Marriage therefore is not a requirement by God else I (as a Catholic priest) will be disqualified. But marriage fulfills your life when you are involved in a marriage that is working out and both partners are happy being married to each other. On the other hand, marriage can be very stressful to your life when it is an unhappy one.
The central point of marriage is the most misunderstood concept an earth – LOVE.
Do not get married because you love someone
- Love alone does not make marriage work.
- Love is insufficient to keep your marriage.
- Do not be carried away by that endearment or feeling.
I personally love aircrafts but I am not a pilot and cannot fly them. So it is that you can love something, or love to do something but you do not know how to handle it or to do it.
Love is not the issue when it comes to marriage. Knowledge is the missing link.
I recall an experience of one of my peers who grew up and married the love of his life. After about four years of marriage, they could not stand each other again. They came to see me about their problem. They sat across from each other, each looking at the other with anger and bitterness, I’m sure they would willingly have signed divorce papers there and then.
I asked the lady, “Do you love him?”
“Why can’t you stand him?”
“He is a beast.”
I turned to her husband – “Do you love her?”
“Why can’t you stand her?”
“ She is crazy.”
Love alone doesn’t keep a marriage together. Every divorced or separated person reading this will agree with this statement. If you are separated today, it means you were once in love. Love was insufficient. Something much stronger and more powerful made love insufficient – It could be infidelity, physical and or emotional abuse, financial irresponsibility, neglect, among other challenges that may have torn the marriage apart. Love alone could not save the marriage. Many marriages could have been saved but the individuals lacked the knowledge to save it and the problems wore them out. Proverbs 24: 3-5. “By wisdom a house is built through understanding it is established and through knowledge, its rooms are filled with beautiful treasures”
Marriage is still a good idea – Happy marriages are good for body and soul. Most broken marriages can be fixed. There is the story of a couple that wanted a divorce and the judge’s ruling was that they both shared all they had equally then they could go their separate ways. They had 6 houses and shared them 3 each; they had 4 cars and shared 2 each; they had 50 spoons and shared 25 each; then they had 3 children. At that point the judge requested they returned after of year of making another baby then the case would be completed with the final sharing. Actually they never returned. Truth be told, ‘No broken marriage is irreparable’.
More than love, you need knowledge of the dynamics of argument, knowledge of the idiosyncrasies of a female and the uniqueness of a male, knowledge of what it is to be a woman, what it means to be a man, knowledge of communication skills, knowledge of managing emotions, handling anger, knowledge of handling unfaithfulness, dynamics of disagreement, broken trust. If you lack these knowledge, the marriage will end in divorce and should you remarry, the same fate awaits it
Hosea 4:6 “My people perish for lack of knowledge.”
The New Testament borrowing from Greek culture and language, which was considered the language of the informed in the days of the early Christians espouses four types of love:
- Sexual love – Eros
- Friendship love – Phileo – John 21: 15
- Family love – Storage – Romans. 12: 10
- Divine love – Agape – 1John 4:7-12
Agape forgives a person who commits adultery on you. You cannot get back with a person who breaks trust with you with Phileo. You can never make up with someone who breaks trust with you with Eros. If your spouse commits adultery on you, you don’t want to be with them on the same bed anymore. So the Eros is even gone. For fear you will probably get AIDS; or your imagination taunts you on what they were with the other person, the thought of what they got up to can not even let you sleep with your partner – Eros can’t help you.
The only way to get back after that brokenness is – Agape. You have to do what God did Romans 5:8 “But God has shown us how much he loves us for even while we were sinners, that Christ died for us”. You cannot experience God’s purpose of marriage if “Agape” – God’s material – is deficient. Everything else you try will fail you.
Getting married to your partner was a choice: Most times when one is choosing a life partner, he or she does have options. People make choices and select because it offers them the most value. The more value you put on something, the more you want to possess it. Value is measured by what you are willing to pay for something. When you pay for something that is the value you gave it. There is the story of a young banker who bought a 2015 BMW and a very expensive Rolex wristwatch to go with it. On a very rainy morning speeding off to his workplace he skids off the road down a cliff – he had an accident. A truck pusher saw the spectacle and dashed to the scene hoping the occupant of the vehicle survived. He found the young banker stuck in he vehicle making efforts to pull himself out of the mangled car. The young banker bawled regretfully, ‘my BMW, my BMW, my BMW’ but the sight overwhelmed the truck pusher for the banker’s arm was stuck to the mangled door and was tearing apart. The truck pusher wailed, ‘your arm, your arm’ but when the banker looked he bawled sadly again ‘my Rolex, my Rolex’. That is the value the banker placed on his BMW and his Rolex wristwatch over his life or his arm.
Quite a number of men wanted your partner but she gave them all up to be with you. This woman gave up all the men just for you until she dies – that is value. How many women did you disappoint for her?
Never take for granted the values you placed on each other to chose one another as life partners.
What value did God place on you? What did He pay to get you? Christ!
My prayer for married couples is that they may grow old together in love and friendship, placing a premium on their relationship, not taking each other for granted and may their togetherness be truly blessed.