The Bible makes us to understand in Song of Solomon 2:15 ‘Take us the foxes, the little foxes that spoil the vines, for our vines have tender grapes.’ (KJV)
‘Catch the foxes, the little foxes, before they ruin our vineyard in bloom.’ (GNT)
Brethren from this Bible verses we have read our marriages are likened to a beautiful garden, a vineyard that is in bloom, that is being cultivated and nurtured, and we must make sure to be prayerful and watchful, so we catch or take away the things that seem little that can ruin our marriages before they begin to cause havoc.
Before a marriage heads for a divorce, whatever that leads to divorce did not happen in one day, cracks had been appearing in the foundation of the marriage that had not been mended by the couple. Issues had been left unresolved, swept under the carpet as it were, ignored, glossed over until these issues got out of hand and caused the foundation of the marriage to become weak and eventually collapsed.
Brethren, God is the originator of Marriage and His word makes us understand that everything He created is good and abideth forever. His intention for marriage, if done according to His perfect will, is that marriage between a man and a woman is till death do them part. Marriage is a covenant between a man and a woman in the presence of God, not a contract. God is not a covenant breaker, hence the reason He spoke in His word that He hates putting away. Marriage as it were, is likened to the image of a Triangle, God at the top and the man and his wife at the two ends at the bottom of the triangle. God is the binding agent, He is the one holding our marriages together, if we let Him, so, therefore, if we run into any trouble, He should be the one we run to for help, and I can assure you that He will come to our rescue, He has never failed neither has he forsaken His own Ecclesiastes 4:12 (a 3 fold chord cannot be easily broken, it is not that the chord cannot be broken, but the lesson from this statement is that because God is the one holding this chord together, the chord is God, the man and his wife, if either the man or his wife let go of their grip from the hand of God, in other words, they give up on their marriage, then the chord is easily broken, that will not be our portion in Jesus name) The Easy to Read Version (ERV) Ecc. 4:12 says ‘An enemy might be able to defeat one person, but two people can stand back to back to defend each other. And three people are even stronger. They are like a rope that has three parts wrapped together, it is very hard to break.’
Marriage was been designed by God to be heaven on earth, as couples, we need to be aware of the devices of the enemy, we need the wisdom of God to identify the hidden destroyers of our marriages. The Bible tells us in John 10: 10 ‘The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I am come that they might have life and that they might have it more abundantly.’
‘The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to full, till it overflows).’ (AMP)
We will be looking at some of the hidden destroyers of marriage:
1) Lack of Communication
Communication is the process of sending a message through a medium to the receiver. It basically means to pass on, or share, or exchange news, information, ideas, knowledge, feelings, or emotions. Communication breakdown is the earliest sign of marital disaster. There could be minor to major information distortion or complete loss at any stage of communication, and this is the stage where conflicts may arise in marriage.
‘Death and life are in the power of the tongue and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.’ Prov. 18:21
‘For he that will love life and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil and his lips that they speak no guile. 1 Peter 3:10
Good communication is the foundation of a strong marriage. Many marriages could be saved if spouses improved the ways they communicate with each other.
It is often the simplest bad habits that get couples into trouble. Once a marriage gets on a rough track, negativity grows; problems escalate as both spouses repeat their mistakes again and again.
Communication in marriage is like a life-giver river (a river is never stagnant like a lake, but it flows). When husband and wife cannot communicate, a huge dam is built stopping the flow of water. This causes everything around them to suffer and slowly die. Seeds that were once planted cannot grow and both spouses develop a strong inward thirst for their unmet needs, eventually causing multiple cracks throughout the relationship. Many promising marriages have fallen into ruin simply because of lack of communication.
Different ways communication can be shared in marriage:
Have you ever heard someone in a troubled relationship say, ‘We just don’t communicate anymore, of course, people say that when they aren’t speaking to each other or seem to fight a lot. However, the truth is that you are communicating all the time. Even two people who are giving each other the silent treatment (actions speak louder than voice) are communicating with each other (but in a negative way and it never leads to anything good rather it gives room to more anger and bitterness.
There are two forms of communication:
1) Verbal: In the form of discussion, argument, debate, rebuke, protest, command and appeal.
2) Non-verbal: Signs or signals. These could be in form of eyeing, nose twitching, mouth twisting or hissing, sticking out one’s tongue, touching or slapping with hand.
Communication in marriage goes beyond words. Everything a couple does in the presence of one another communicates. Problems usually start from wrong communication. Saying right things, the wrong way and at the wrong time is likely to generate the wrong response, Prov. 25:11 ‘The right word spoken at the right time is beautiful as gold apples in a silver bowl’. Prov. 15: 1 ‘A gentle answer will calm a person’s anger, but an unkind answer will cause more anger’. Colossians 4:6’ Let your speech be seasoned with grace and salt so that you know how you ought to answer every man’.
2) Money Problems
The Bible says the love of money is the root of all evil. 1 Timothy 6:10
Most couples argue over bills, debt, spending and other financial issues. How you decide to deal with money problems in your marriage will determine whether those problems will have a positive or negative effect on your marriage.
Mk 10:8 ‘And they twain shall be one flesh, so then they are no more twain, but one flesh.
In marriage let your language change to Our money, not My money. Marriage is one plus one is one, it is a mystery no one can explain or understand it, except God the creator.
Be open to one another, do not keep secrets about money coming in and money going out. Have a general purse, a savings purse and a personal purpose for special things.
Determine who in the marriage manages money better and remember we are to complement one another and not to compete against one another.
Discipline, diet and parenting issues can be sources of disagreement between couples. Issues relating to children if not properly addressed can be a number one stressor in a marriage and can intensify difference in belief on issues like how to discipline, who is responsible for most of the childcare or what educational options to choose.
Teach your children to honour and respect, our children are the reflection of who we are because they learn almost everything, they know from us. They also inherit their temperaments from us their parents. Proverbs 22:6 ‘Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.’
The story of the woman that earns more than her husband, and still makes sure that every money she wants to hand out to the children, she gives it to her husband to do the giving, it’s a mark of respect and honour, and the children are learning the act of order.
Discipline must be appropriately given, don’t correct your spouse on the way discipline was appropriated in front of your children.
4) Fighting (Conflict Management)
Disagreement are sure to happen in a marriage, remember marriage involves two people (a man & a woman) from different backgrounds, environment and temperaments, but they do not have to lead to hurtful arguments, we must learn not to give place to the devil in our lives, marriages and homes. SOD know yourself, know your enemy and your weapons of warfare. Do not let a foot hold become a stronghold the Bible says in Songs of Solomon 2:15 ‘ Catch the foxes, before they ruin our vineyard in bloom Good News Version) yet again the Bible says in Eph. 4:26 ‘ Do not let the sun go down on your anger, 1 Peter 3:7 ‘Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge giving honour unto the wife as unto the weaker vessel and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers be not hindered.
5) Secrets (Dishonesty)
Do you remember when you first fell in love? You and your partner spent endless hours talking to each other, getting to know each other. As trust was built you divulged more and more of yourself, even sharing dreams and dark secrets. In this protective bubble of love, you were safe.
And then, one day, you forget to tell your partner something. Nothing big, nothing special, just some small experience you had. The next day you deliberately withhold a belief, a preference, a wish or desire.
Before you know it, your conversation has a stilted quality to it – there is not much to say or share. At the end of this process, you find yourself with little in common with your partner and wonder how this happened.
6) Taking Your Partner for Granted
This is easy to do, especially in a good relationship. Things are going well, and you think it is the natural order of things. It isn’t. Life is full of surprises and demanding challenges which require a flexible response if you are to overcome the drama you face.
When your eye strays from your purpose in relationship, when you take your loved one for granted and do not recognize and honour the gift that has been given you, feelings are hurt.
Over the years, I have found two critical factors that have supported me when dealing with these pitfalls. One, is the awareness that they (pitfalls) exist and two, having the willingness to communicate with my partner whenever one of these challenges enters my life.
If they enter your life, don’t hesitate. They will not go away on their own and the longer you wait to deal with them, the more difficult it will be to deal with them. If you try to avoid these pitfalls, they turn from being challenges into relationship killers.
The major problem here is not leaving and cleaving as the Bible commanded.
In-laws, siblings, children, stepchildren can all create stress within marriage if issues are not handled with the wisdom of God. When dealing with negative issues because of extended family you need to thread softly. Our spouses should come first but there are times you must be willing to take a backseat and bite your tongue for peace to reign in your marriage and home.
The case of the man that would give money or gifts to his wife to give to his people and vice versa.
Honour and respect even if the other party is not reciprocating or appreciating it, you still give it. The example of Ruth & Naomi (a godly example of a lovely Daughter-In-Law: Mother-In-Law relationship)
Not all friends are helpful to relationships, some of them are toxic. The Bible says evil association corrupts good manners. Be sure you know the difference between a friend who will enhance your relationship and one who will break it down. Friends that give un-godly counsel and advise you must run away from, a woman once said that her friends advised her to send her husband away and she listened to them and threw her husband out only to find out later that she was sitting on gold because the things her friends were taking in their homes was not compared to what she going through, she regretted her actions.
Brethren there is a spirit that is hovering over marriages in his end times and that spirit is the spirit of separation and divorce and it is not of God but of the devil. The Bible says whatever God does abideth forever, Marriage according to the will of God is till death do us part it is a part to forever.
Marriage is like a bus that you get on and there is no bus top.
Marriage is like a school that you never graduate from.
Whatsoever is not adding value to your life you must discard, flee from all appearances of evil. You do not wash your dirty linens in public. Take whatever challenge you have to the feet of Jehovah or if you must share it with someone for counselling reasons then let it be people that have the fear and the word of God, people that will give you godly counsel and encourage you in the Lord, they say a problem shared is half solved. In the midst of good counsellors, there is safety.
The sermon was delivered on September 8, 2019, as part of our Special Family Service.