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How To Survive Your Marriage

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How To Survive Your Marriage

By David Calderwood

EPHESIANS 5:21 —33

Hasn’t it been great to hear ____ and _____express their life-long commitment to each other, now as husband and wife?

But will they go the distance as promised to each other today, when so many others have not?

Every couple begins marriage with the best intentions of loving and valuing one another until death parts them. But the statistics reveal the shocking reality check: a majority of couples will not survive the challenge of being married.

And, strange as it may first seem, couples who have lived together for a significant period before getting married, are no more likely to survive.

So, what will enable you guys to beat the statistics and go the distance? I want to suggest two things.

1. You need a solid reference point for life and marriage.

The first rule of bushwalking is to establish a solid point of reference for navigation. It is this reference point that determines your direction for every part of your journey.

It is constant reference to this point that ensures you don’t wander off course when distracted by interesting things, or get totally lost when you have to negotiate difficult obstacles.

Navigating life in general and your marriage in particular, likewise requires a solid reference point.

It will be this reference point that determines your direction for every part of your journey in life and marriage; that ensures you don’t wander off course while distracted by the good times, or get totally lost when you have to negotiate difficult obstacles.

The reference point I am referring to is your world-view, which is like a lens, or a pair of glasses through which you view life. It is your reference point that determines the way you live your life.

It is your world-view that governs how you think about your place in this world, and meaning and purpose in life: is there a personal God and a life after this life, or are we just the product of chance and, therefore, insignificant specks in this vast universe?

It is your world-view that determines how you think about yourself; how you determine what is important and what is not; how you relate to others around you; how you think about your marriage and your marriage partner.

The interesting thing is that every person is born already hard-wired with a world-view, even though they may not be aware of it, and may not even be familiar with the term.

The natural-born world-view automatically rejects God and makes each person the master of their own destiny. We hear it most commonly expressed in advertising – “The most important person in the world is you”.

In other words, the default world-view for every person is that they are the centre of the universe; and that they need to look after themselves first; and that the most important thing is life is their own happiness, their own freedom of expression.

But there is a real problem in our natural-born or hard-wired world-view, and being married.

Our natural world view tends to self-centredness, but to make relationships work, and especially the close, life-time relationship of marriage, you really need to be other-person-centred.

So, other-person-centredness is the second thing you’ll need if your marriage is to last the life-time you have just promised to each other.

Relationships which fail – whether family relationships, general workplace relationships, or ordinary friendships – fail because one or more of the parties involved act for their own interests at the expense of others in the relationship.

A self centred attitude – my happiness, my rights, my freedom, my TV programme, my hobby, my style of holiday, has total priority - leaves the other partner feeling used, abused, undervalued and unloved. This is likely to provoke a hostile and defensive response.

But acting in the best interests of your partner makes them feel valued, honoured, loved, and special. And this is likely to provoke a warm, generous, trusting response.

Having said this I want to refer you briefly to the passage from the bible that is printed in your order of service.

Ephesians 5:21-33

21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing[b] her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”[c] 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.


This was written by the Apostle Paul, to a group of Christians in a place called Ephesus, almost 2000 years ago, but it is still the Christian world-view - God’s blueprint or reference point for life in general and marriage in particular.

It recognises this is God’s world; that we know and relate to God through the person of Jesus Christ; that the good life with true meaning, purpose and security is sourced in relationship with him; that Jesus is the model of the good life for marriage by being other-person-centred.

So, _____and ______, let me conclude with two challenges to build into your marriage.

First, I challenge you to consider if your current world-view is solid enough to navigate life and marriage.

And it needs to be solid. When I was a boy in Ireland, and learning to plough, dad told me to pick a reference point in the distance and line it up with the bonnet of the tractor, and if I kept everything in a line it would ensure the furrow would be straight.

As it happened, I actually picked a Friesian cow in the next field because it stood out so clearly. I kept the cow lined up with the marks on the bonnet of the tractor, but by the time I’d reached the other end of the field, the furrow I had ploughed was a curve.

My reference point had been moving, and by the time I realised my mistake, the damage was done.

I challenge you to consider that a world-view which rejects God and makes you the master of your own destiny is not solid: it will not be able to give real meaning, purpose and security in life. It will not deliver the good life of happiness you both desire.

Second, I challenge each of you to see that your own happiness is to be found in seeking the happiness of your partner.

Contrary to what people believe, the fact is that the Bible knows us only too well. It recognises our natural born world-view is a tendency to self-centredness. We don’t even have to think about caring for ourselves, it is instinctive.


It makes sense of our attitudes and natural inclinations and pushes us to bring our lives into relationship with Jesus and follow his example of selfless service of and commitment to your partner as the key to discovering and enjoying the good life for as many years as god grants you together on this earth.


David Calderwood  - 22nd April 2011




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