What causes a marriage to end?
Today, the divorce rate is staggering. And while everyone — including couples themselves, psychologists, counselors, etc. — are trying to find the reason, I have a few ideas, having myself been at various points of defeat in my marriage.
By popular belief, selfish, insecure, and broken people are made by their wounds, their circumstances, and their past. But what if I were to tell you that people are born selfish — it’s the other stuff that causes it to really shine.
Marriage is two broken and selfish people — because let’s admit it, we are all broken and selfish — who come together and try to make life work living side by side, when they could hardly make life work in solitude.
Some couples give up after a month or two, while others try their best for years until they are finally brought to their downfall, completely inconversant of the reason.
And while there may be reasons such as affairs, lying, emotional abuse, loneliness, etc., that would naturally provide a breeding ground for divorce, there are three underlying causes — the ROOT causes of divorce that no one wants to acknowledge.
Why? Because it would mean that people would need to start changing and becoming better people themselves to benefit their marriage.
People don’t want to do that — especially in today’s culture. We are a fix it fast society, fueled by narcissism and driven by success that’s defined by perfect stature, and never admitting that you are, in fact, an imperfect human being.
But when we CAN acknowledge our selfishness, and realize we are responsible for our own growth which concludes in a healthy marriage, it can change from a meaningless and damaging one, to purposeful and life giving one.
Understanding what marriage is
Perhaps understanding WHAT marriage is, will help you change your perspective.
Marriage is NOT
Set in place to make you happy
Finding your soulmate and living happily ever after
Filling a void in you that was never there before
Going to complete you or make you whole — you already are
The hardest thing you will ever do
About serving one another, not attempting to make one another happy
Confronting yourself and your struggles so you can be a better spouse
Going to change you for the better - if in a healthy marriage
A choice — not a feeling — to commit and love someone forever
In Matthew 18:25, Paul talks about how losing your life will save it. What does that mean?
That means that only when we are functioning from a basis of putting others before ourselves, will we experience the joys of marriage — and life in general. When we put others first, for example our spouse, we are setting our marriage up for success.
But when we let our own selfishness rule in our lives, we are incapable of meeting our spouses needs (guess who’s needs we are focusing on meeting? Yeah). When we aren’t meeting one another’s needs (not referring to unhealthy expectations here, but normal previously known and discussed needs), bad things happen.
So coincidently, our human nature — selfishness — is ultimately what brings marriages to ruin. The byproducts of that are numerous and devastating.
3 Reasons Marriages Fail
All of these reasons are still byproducts of selfishness — the one thing people have the hardest time confronting within themselves. Isn’t that funny?
The one way you could fix your marriage, is the most disregarded topic within marriage books — confronting your selfishness and growing personally. They replace this advice with the notion that YOU should do whatever it is that makes you happy. That’s it.
Well, I can guarantee that you can do whatever you like, but it WILL NOT make you happy.
Okay, let’s get to the top 3 reasons couples fail to last forever and always, in sickness and in health.
After marriage, you realize the person you married isn’t who you thought they were
Again, another reflection of self-centeredness. The person YOU thought you knew, isn’t who YOU thought they were.
While you might think the other person BECOMES someone you no longer love or care for, what’s really happening is you are forced to get to know WHO THEY TRULY ARE on the deepest of levels.
Most couples don’t get through this faze, and I’m sure more ridiculous reasons for divorce are found here.
What’s the solution? Well, frankly put — work on yourself. Your own self-centeredness does and will play a role in your marriage, whether your part is only 2%, or 98%.
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When you can begin to focus on your own problems, neglecting your need to control what the other person should change, you will not only fix your marriage, you will become more Christ-like in the meantime.
2. Couples will try and fix one another
Being told that you aren’t enough, or even that you are selfish, doesn’t feel very good. So when our newly formed relationship is governed by criticism and nagging, we run for the hills! Why? Because how dare them try and change us! We are who we are and that’s that!
We think they need to focus on themselves and change because they are the problem.
Do you see the irony here?
We get so caught up in trying to change the other person, we neglect our own personal growth. We neglect focusing our eyes on Jesus to be our everything — not our imperfect spouse who should never be put in that position anyway.
3. Couples fail to recognize their part in the marital struggle
So what should you do if you’re not busy trying to get your husband or wife to get their act together?
When you shift your gaze from “look at how much you suck” to “what can I do within myself to help this marriage succeed” you are throwing your marriage a lifeline.
Doesn’t it take two people becoming selfless to make a marriage work?
It could. If you make a choice to continue to bless, love, commit, and grow personally for yourself and your spouse, you could win their heart and go down the happily ever after road — which leads to failing and trying again SO MANY TIMES.
But that’s what marriage is! It’s the most beautiful tool that God uses to make us more like Him.
Marriage causes one to look at themselves in a mirror — scars, wrinkles, imperfections and all — and truly accept that they are imperfectly in need of a Savior.
Ultimately, the only way the recognise our own selfishness, stare it longingly in the eyes before we set it on fire, we need Jesus to show us how. We need the overcomer of all evil to show us how to best conduct ourselves in our marriage, ever moment of every day.
You will fail, you will want to give up, you will cry, die a little, stomp your feet exasperated from it all, but that’s OKAY. It’s these moments that bring us to the realization that we can’t do this life alone.
Marriage is about serving one another. In Genesis we are told that God created Eve from Adam to be his helper because he was ALONE.
So help one another. Be on the same team. Strive to give of yourself, and an abundance of joy and favor will most likely come to you.
Don’t give up just yet. Unless you are in an abusive situation that needs outside counsel and direction, don’t let your selfishness get the better of your life and completely ruin it. I’m glad I didn’t — the fight was worth it.