Once upon a time, we thought divorce was foreign. Not so long ago, divorce cases were very uncommon in Nigeria. It was mostly something that happened in western countries, something that we read about in novels and newspapers or observed in television dramas. Not anymore. Divorce is in our backyard. Today, divorce cases constitute a large percentage of cases before Nigerian courts. Recently, in a certain court on a certain day somewhere in Nigeria, all five cases that were brought before the Judge were all divorce cases!
The saddest part is that many, if not most of these divorce cases, involve Christian couples who, on their wedding day, declared their love for each other with words sealed with kisses; couples who promised to stay together “in sickness and health, till death do us part”. What is going on? Why are marriages under such pressure today? Why are so many couples living like cats and dogs, lions and lambs, constantly at war, sad, angry, and frustrated?
How can the tide of unhappy marriages and divorces be turned, how can Christians reclaim their God-given right to happy, wholesome marriages? In seeking answers, the first point to note is this: MARRIAGE IS NOT MAGIC.
Yes, it takes biblical principles to maintain a happy marriage, because it is the manual given by the God who created marriage. The Bible, God’s blueprint for a victorious life, contains timeless principles for realizing a successful happy marriage.
IMPORTANT: A HAPPY MARRIAGE IS NOT AS MUCH A FUNCTION OF WHOM YOU ARE MARRIED TO AS IT IS OF HOW COMMITTED YOU ARE TO PRACTISING THESE PRINCIPLES.
The first secret of happily married couples is that they understand the language and the power of forgiveness. They have made forgiving each other a habit. Happily married couples understand that true love cannot exist without forgiveness. They are not perfect, but they have perfected the art of forgiving. They have learnt to overlook offences, talk matters over and choose to let them go. As Michel de Montaigne wittily puts it: “A good marriage would be between a blind wife and a deaf husband.”
Wise Christian couples have learnt that their spouse is more important than their grouse and would rather lose an argument than lose their spouse. How can one make forgiveness a habit? Like in other areas of life, prayer and practice are very helpful. But choice is central. A good marriage is a product of choice. The difference between a happy marriage and one that is not is choice. If you want to have a happy marriage, you and your spouse also must choose to forgive each other.
“Offences must come”, but forgiveness eases tension; it deflates the balloon of fear and animosity. A willingness to apologize is an important component of forgiveness. Apology does not mean that you were wrong or your partner was right. It just means that you value your relationship more than your ego. Don’t make forgiveness conditional! Indeed, it is a proven recipe for marital conflicts to make forgiveness conditional.
Note: YOUR UNWILLINGNESS TO FORGIVE IS JUST AS OFFENSIVE TO GOD AS THE THINGS YOU BLAME YOUR SPOUSE FOR.
Unforgiveness is dangerous! It erects walls that kill intimacy in your relationship, hinders your prayers, affects your health and makes you a model of callousness and insensitivity to your children. Surely, that is not the kind of life you want to condemn yourself to permanently. Don’t allow unforgiveness kill your marriage. Forgiveness is the only godly option left for you. It is a powerful pillar of a happy marriage. Your marriage is to be enjoyed, not endured.
So go ahead and forgive! Verbalize it. Then trust God for your healing and for restoration.
Have a happy marriage!
BY: Pastor Wale Afelumo
READINGS: HEBREWS 13:4A, PSALM 130:3&4, EPHESIANS 4:26-27&32, MATTHEW 18:21-35, & LUKE 6:46-49.