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Keeping the Misery Out of Marriage

The late country comic Minnie Pearl could grab you by the ears with a handful of simple words. For instance, in describing marriage, she said: "Gettin' married's like getting into a tub of hot water. After you get used to it, it ain't so hot." Of course, many couples who said "I do" really did, and through thick and thin they continue not only to survive in marriage but actually thrive as they cleave to one another in the powerful and dynamic relationship the Bible describes as husband and wife. Jesus insists that in marriage a man and a woman so totally and intimately merge their lives that they are "joined" together and are no longer two, but one flesh. The Greek term for join" is proskollao (pronounced Chros-kol-lah'), defined by Strong's Concordance as meaning "to glue to, that is to adhere, cleave, or join." Thus the marital glue Jesus refers to is not lightweight stuff but is to be industrial grade super-glue, the kind that will hold a husband and wife together for a lifetime, when it's hot and when it ain't so hot In the words of Jesus, "What God has joined together, let not man separate (see Mark 10:6-9: Matthew 19:3-9).

Sadly, Minnie Pearl was right about many marriages. The cold fact is many marriages are not so hot after awhile. The self-centered, me-first it's-my-way-or-the highway-attitude can send a deep freeze over a marriage faster than you can say Old Man Winter. Mates who are unspiritual, immature, stubborn, selfish, unyielding, unforgiving, thoughtless and unkind are actually robbing marriage of the fuel required to keep it hot. Single people (young and old) desiring to find a mate need reminding there is something far worse than not being married —and that is being married to the wrong person. (that is, to the wrong kind of person). When that happens, marriage is not so hot, and both parties are in for what will almost certainly be the roughest ride of their lives. According to Walter Issacson, in 1730 Benjamin Franklin published an article entitled "Rules & Maxims for Promoting Matrimonial Happiness." Franklin praised marriage as "the surest & most lasting foundation of comfort & love." However, he pointed out, the folly of some who enter into it often makes it "a state of the most exquisite wretchedness & miser" (Benjamin Franklin: an American Life by Walter Isaacson, Simon & Schuster, NY: 2003; pp 74- 75, 80). Marriage can be hot or not so hot. It can be magnificent, or it can be miserable. There is no "easy button" for marital happiness. But husbands and wives who will practice the principles taught in Ephesians 5:21-33 will discover a formula that helps to keep the misery out of marriage and also helps in keeping the home fires hot.

Dan Gulley
church of Christ
Smithville, Tennessee