Chap 4, Icebergs That Sink A Marriage Like the Titanic
Don't Take Your Spouse For Granted.
People tend to take things for granted with familiarity and availability. As the relationship matures, you tend to take your spouse for granted. Some of this is normal, appropriate, and even relationship-building. It shows you have gotten so comfortable together that your spouse will accept anything you do. If he or she loves you enough, it may be. However, all the annoyances in one’s personality tolerated today are used as arrows tomorrow when the relationship starts to break down. It all starts with the little things.
You have to ask yourself how I value my life with or without my partner. How do you rank others with your spouse? Do your children come first? How important are your friends and relatives over your lifelong partner? By thinking about this thought experiment, you can understand how you prioritize your spouse above all others. If there’s a huge mental gap between your kids, job, friends, or other people and activities, it’s likely your partner already feels and is undervalued.
Above all things, have unfailing love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8 MEV.
Not Spending Time Together
One of the ways of taking your spouse for granted is that you are not spending enough time with your partner. Other things and people begin to take you away from your spouse. Your partner comes first, and all other activity is secondary. As God said, the husband and wife become one flesh (Genesis 2:24), then no others can be given higher priority over one flesh.
Most get married in their twenties, and each spouse is attentive to the other in the beginning. A young couple spends all their time thinking about building their home life and making plans for a family and work. It all begins to change in their 30s, especially for men.
Each has more demands on their time with work, children, extended family, and friends. The wife will start her family or already has young children to take care of. The husband begins to improve his career and status at work. This can happen to women in the workplace as well. However, becoming a good provider is a driving force for a man. If both spouses are working, then each may end up pursuing a separate path outside the home.
Prioritizing Work Over Marriage
Understandably, people have to work today with very demanding jobs. Some travel for work to be gone for long periods. But, there is no excuse for neglecting your family and spouse to give yourself over to your work and career.
Often people do this not because it's the only way to earn a living, but because they like the attention from their co-workers and the chase of building their work-life to become someone. The more successful they are at work, the more perks and incentives they receive. There are more stock options, more money for their 401k, traveling the world, a bigger office, greater status, expensive dinners with co-workers, and general excitement around others at high levels. This is far more than what they would get at home, especially after being married for more than five years to get into a familiar routine, day in and day out.
Husbands serve the Lord by loving their wives as they are commanded to do. When they serve their careers to ignore their duties at home, they are not serving God but for money.
No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. Matthew 6:24 ESV.
For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the Lord, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the Lord of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless. Malachi 2:16 ESV.
It's not wrong to be successful at what you are doing. Even your work is for the service to God. He provides everything you need for your home and family through work. It only becomes wrong when you live for work to then come home to a neglected family. You are no longer serving God or your family but your selfish desires.
Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ Hebrews 13:5 ESV.
Once a person has a taste of independence and some success at work, it becomes intoxicating. The working spouse begins to value their job more than their families. Success can become a giant iceberg to overcome where many marriages fail. The sharks begin to circle over troubled waters. The non-working spouse is basically left behind.
The successful spouse sees himself or herself as more important where it's difficult for the other to live up to without feeling some negative emotions of insecurity or jealousy.
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. Philippians 2:3-7 ESV.
When both partners thrive for success that they grow independently of their spouse, each has his or her group of friends, acquaintances, co-workers, and opportunities. With every person added to your network of friends and colleagues, more challenges and voices will emerge between you and your partner.
Missing In Action At Home
The worst offense is allowing one’s profession to take over their entire life where the working spouse(s) is often absent from the home. Nothing is more damaging to a relationship than a missing partner in the early years of the marriage. This is when most of the bonding occurs. All the person wants at this time is a close connection with their partner and to spend quality time together like when they first met. But tension and stress rise when one or both partners value other things than each other.
Neglecting The Bond
I found him whom my soul loves. Song of Songs 3:4 MEV. Now you have your spouse, a house, and maybe a family. You want more than what a boring life at home can offer. The drive to achieve and gain the respect of others eventually takes over in your 30s to mid-40s. Between 25 to 35 years old is when most marriages fail. So, it is essential to set up your lives early enough to have something to show for all your hard work in your 40s and beyond. But, if you neglect your spouse, especially in your 20s and 30s, you won’t have that strong emotional connection to endure the marriage.
In your 40s, you will need emotional bonding and rely on your spouse even more. This is when you can relax and enjoy the blessings in your life. If you managed to stay married, you could enjoy your partner the most in your 40s. You have more money and time to do the things you couldn’t do when you started. You also gained some wisdom and understanding of how life works and can appreciate each other.
Two are better than one because there is a good reward for their labor together. Ecclesiastes 4:9 MEV.
Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice with the wife of your youth. Proverbs 5:18 MEV.
If you have a bumpy marriage in your late 20s and 30s, you need to hang on until your 40s, when a couple is less likely to divorce in their 50s. The older you are, the harder it becomes to find a new partner and start over again.
Second marriages fail by 60%, and third marriages by over 70%. Older established people can’t bond with each other like a young couple who grows up together. The key to any marriage is longevity and waiting until your circumstances change. Most people are unwilling to do this and take the easy way out in a divorce instead.
Friends and Family
Work is not the only offender to divide a house. Some want more time with their hobbies and friends than their spouses. Today, there are more things to do and leisure time to do them. Some of it is ok to do something the partner loves to do in his or her free time. Many still make time for other things outside the home without their spouse, especially when it's done with their friends and family. Eight out of ten, this becomes dangerous territory when you exclude your spouse from activities done with others. The partner ends up mentally waiting on the other when he or she is not around.
If a woman does this, the husband will get irritated and jealous when the attention is given elsewhere than the home.
Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm, for love is strong as death, jealousy is fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of the Lord. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it. If a man offered for love all the wealth of his house, he would be utterly despised. Song of Songs 8:6-7 ESV.
A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband, but she who brings shame is as rottenness in his bones. Proverbs 12:4 MEV.
If a man does this, the woman is neglected and will become insecure in the marriage to start thinking negatively about the relationship.
Yet you say, “Why?” It is because the Lord has been a witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously. Yet she is your companion and your wife by covenant. Did He not make them one, having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring. So take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously. Malachi 2:14-15 MEV.
Likewise, you husbands, live considerately with your wives, giving honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they too are also heirs of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered. 1 Peter 3:7 MEV.
Most importantly, the outside friends and family will start undermining the relationship to cause a breakup eventually. If the friends and family allow themselves to be with the partner without the spouse often enough, it's an automatic sign that they do not respect the marriage and love for the spouse to include them. This may be what the partner wants to do, but it will likely cause problems in the marriage.
A great example is Chris Watts' story. Chris fathered three children with his wife, Shannon, who was pregnant with his son when she died. Chris killed his wife while she was almost pregnant full term and his two young girls. He waited for Shannon to come home from her trip to visit her parents. He killed all his family during the early hours after sex with her. He ended up dumping his two girls in oil tanks at his workplace. One of them had oil in her lungs, suggesting she could have been alive when tossed in the large tank. Everyone around him undermined his marriage with Shannon. He succumbed to the pressure and did evil to have been possessed by demons to do what he did.
His mother hated Shannon so much that she didn’t attend their wedding and continually began to undermine the marriage. His sister hated Shannon. She and her mother often planned and did things to destroy the trust in the marriage.
Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs. Proverbs 10:12 NIV.
Chris’ father went along with the mother to do nothing but use Chris as his emotional crutch. Even after discovering their son murdered his whole family, his parents could not say one nice thing about the dead family he just murdered but only spoke evil against them to protect Chris. The mother’s love for her son was so misplaced and unnatural that his story exposed how all the people involved in his life were so toxic and dangerous to his marriage. Chris was also cheating on Shannon to find an evil girlfriend doing evil things of her own to destroy their marriage and go after Chris to try to replace herself as his new wife and make plans for the future. The story is so crazy and mind-bending on how all the people in his life played their part in the violence and murder. Even his friends were influencing Chris against his wife. This story deserves its series to do it justice.
Marriage is to be honored among everyone, and the bed undefiled. But God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterers. Hebrews 13:4 MEV.
The lesson learned here is that strict boundaries must be established to protect the spouse and marriage from outside influence. Once a man leaves his home and gets married, his only duty is to his wife and children. No matter how innocent or loving friends and family may appear, they are dangerous outside forces to cross the protected boundaries of marriage, especially when there is a rift or problems at home. People choose sides to create added drama and play a tug of war to win over the affection and attempt to protect something they feel they need to.
What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. Mark 10:9 KJV; Matthew 19:6.
Do not let friends and family influence your love and affection for your spouse. If they begin to, cut them off. If your partner doesn’t honor you over others, then this will likely cause a divorce. In Chris’ case, the death of his entire family, killing four by gruesome acts.
This wouldn’t apply to those blessed with loving families and the heart of God to provide wise counseling and help to one another when times get rough. The story of Ruth and Naomi reflected the love and commitment to each other even when Ruth lost her husband, and Naomi lost all her sons. Ruth stayed with Naomi when she was free to leave her home and find another husband on her own. Instead, Ruth showed kindness and love towards Naomi to stay with her.
But Ruth said, ‘Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.’ Ruth 1:16-17 ESV.
Since not everyone is surrounded by Godly friends and family to do the right thing for you and your household, as it was with Shannon Watts, you must take heed and create a spiritual hedge around you and your marriage.
Familial Relationship Iceberg
A romantic relationship is a different love than your relationships with children or other family members (parents, siblings, and so on). Women end up having different priorities than men after they have children. They tend to put their children first and often neglect their husbands, which is one major cause of divorce. Understandably, children demand more dependent care than their husbands, who can care for themselves. However, your spouse comes first before your children as God-ordained.
Often women become single mothers. They think they can raise their kids alone. It's an illusion. They cannot. They sacrificed their kids’ lives to be raised without a father. Single mothers create a broken home that they can control. They could not submit to their husband and preferred to raise their children alone. Of course, there is always an exception where it's beyond their circumstances to be in a good marriage and raise their kids with their father. But today, this is rare. Women choose the lifestyle of raising kids alone, and many get pregnant out of wedlock.
For it is written, ‘Rejoice, O barren one who does not bear; break forth and cry aloud, you who are not in labor! For the children of the desolate one will be more than those of the one who has a husband.’ Galatians 4:27 ESV.
Thus, women tend to create an enormous iceberg when replacing their romantic relationship with a familial one and ousting the partner. It's a path to failure for women to ignore the needs of their husbands before their children and others in their families.
Attention Seeking Socially
Another sign that your partner is taking you for granted is when you are at social gatherings, and your spouse neglects you socially to be with others. You leave the gathering only exchanging brief conversations with each other.
Even if your partner didn’t complain about this lack of attentiveness, he or she has already lost some feelings toward you, having felt the disappointment and hurt by you.
Some people are just energized with surrounded by people and the attention they receive. Others are introverted to seek refuge in quietness and small gatherings instead. No matter your personality type, you should not neglect your spouse in any social function. Make a point to check in on them once in a while as you become the life of the party. Introduce your spouse properly to all those you encounter so they that your partner is important to you and given the proper respect. If everyone already knows one another, make a point to include your spouse in your conversations or general socializing.
Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals. 1 Corinthians 15:33 MEV.
Until next time. Hug your partner.