You Know A Marriage Is In Trouble When …
Warren E. Berkley
Originally published 2008
Both tell the counselor that the other one is the problem. Counselors and preachers often have this experience. The husband says, “she is really a problem,” and the wife says, “the whole trouble is him!” When the report of conflict is dominated by “me” and “what I need” and “what I deserve,” you know there is trouble. When husband and wife verbalize selfish concerns, absent concern for children or obedience to God, you know there is trouble. “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others,” (Phil. 2:3,4).
There is greater interest outside the home than in the home. In an episode of the Dr. Phil Show, he interviewed a man who was obsessed with his hobby, using a metal detector to find “treasure” just under the surface of the ground. The host of the show pointed out to him: “your wife is a treasure; your children are a treasure.” When recreation, nightlife, social engagements, hobbies and other things outside the home take priority over the marriage, there is trouble. “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,” (Eph. 5:33). “Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered,” (1 Pet. 3:7).
The kids know there is a problem. Children, even toddlers, are far more perceptive than many parents acknowledge. One of the saddest spectacles on earth is to see children hurting over the bitter conflict their parents fail to hide from them. Fathers and mothers, stop and think: You may fight and win some battle for yourself against your spouse, in a circumstance where your children are defeated by discouragement (Col. 3:21).
One or both partners are drifting from the Lord. This is often one of the “early warning signs” that trouble is soon to come. It is a fact that as long as both husband and wife are committed to the Lord, there is the best possible source of strength. And in the commitment of both to the Lord and His Word, there is a basis upon which to identify and solve problems. If this is so the contrary is true: when one or both partners drift away from the Lord, the basis of unity and permanence is weakened. “Now therefore, fear the Lord, serve Him in sincerity and in truth … choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve … but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord,” (Josh. 24:14,15).
When there is more talk of divorce than marriage. One of the worst responses to trouble is, to threaten divorce. Look for grounds for marriage, not divorce! When you threaten divorce, you are using something God hates in an impulsive, immature effort to gain what you want (see Mal. 2:16). Do you think God is pleased, when you tell your mate you will violate God’s will? Do you think it will help your marriage and secure stability for your children, to get mad and yell about divorce?
“Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge,” (Heb. 13:4).