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Marriage:  Love the One You’re With

The 1970 single by Stephen Stills, "Love the One You're With," reflected the changing mood about love and marriage in America. The complete hook line in the song encouraged listeners, "If you can't be with the one you love, honey, love the one you're with." Forty years after that song hit the charts, many men and women many, and soon afterwards find they are no longer with the one they love and not loving the one they're with. Lifetime marriages seem in danger of becoming extinct. Not too long ago in America, the key word as it related to marriage was "commitment" — as in when a man and woman vowed/pledged to take each other for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness as in health, and that each of them would keep themselves for each other until death parted them. Today many men and women wed but don't really lock, and the bonds of matrimony are soon broken in divorce. The situation reminds me of the following story. A wife went to the police station with her neighbor to report her husband was missing. The policeman asked for a description. She said, "He's thirty-five years old, 6 foot 4, has dark eyes, dark wavy hair, an athletic build, weighs 185 pounds, is soft-spoken, and is good to children." The next-door neighbor protested, "Your husband is fifty-eight, 5 foot 4, chubby, his hair is thinning, and he is mean to your children." The wife replied, "That's right, but who wants him back?"

Ephesians 5:22-33 reveals a plan that will improve your marriage. But get ready for some hard work, for that passage calls upon husbands and wives to base and build marriage upon the attitudes and actions Jesus modeled in His relationship with the church. In the middle of the passage is verse 25: "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it." Then a succinct summary in verse 33: "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." The remedy to marital dissatisfaction in this passage focuses not on finding another person to love, but in loving the husband or wife you are with. What the apostle Paul calls for in the passage is what the Bible always calls for in marriage — commitment, not convenience. In verse 31 the apostle quotes Genesis 2:23 — For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." Marriage is primarily about "we" and not just "me." It is about a mutual commitment between a man and woman to so blend their individual lives that they are one. Marriages that fail shifted somewhere along the way from a "we" focus to a "me" focus on the part of at least one mate and very often, at least to some degree, on the part of both. Are you unhappy in your marriage? It can be improved — if you are willing to do something radical. Instead of following the road most traveled (to a divorce court), why not choose to love the one you're with by rebuilding your marriage on Christ and the cross? There are no "easy buttons" or quick-fix remedies to cure an ailing marriage or re-capture lost marital happiness. But husbands and wives who will dare to practice the marriage principles laid out in Ephesians 5:22-33 will find a formula that may help them relearn how to love the one they are with. Will you think about it?

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ