Episode 55: Dealing with Problems in Marriage

Peace to Live By Episode 55: Dealing with Problems in Marriage - Daniel Litton
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[Transcript may not match broadcasted sermon word for word, and contains extra material that was cut from the broadcast due to time constraints]

       Today I want to talk about some common problems that occur in people’s marriages, and how to deal with these problems. Now, what I am going to discuss is basic, yet, I feel that these issues are common within marriages, and therefore, we should consider them. I believe every Christian couple wants to improve their marriage—for everyone should believe that there is room for improvement—and I think most will agree with this. People should not be prideful and believe they have the perfect marriage. Just as we as individuals are not perfect, there is no way that anyone has achieved perfection within their marriage. Thusly, this information should be important to us.

       Of the many things that can be discussed, here are the five different areas I want us to focus on today. These are the problems of:

1) Not allowing Jesus to be Head
2) The wife trying to lead her husband
3) Having overly busy schedules
4) Not having alone time, and
5) Putting your children first

Again, these are basic things, but ones that I believe a lot of people let go unchecked, or don’t even realize they have a problem with. But, these things are important, and are foundational to having a growing, successful marriage. Lastly, before I finish today, I do want to take some time and address singles in regard to dealing with problems before getting married. Now, with each of these areas we are discussing today, we will start with a corresponding Bible verse that will help guide us through the problem.

Number one: Not allowing Jesus to be Head

Colossians 1:18 states, “He [Jesus] is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent” (ESV).

       It sounds so basic to say that Jesus needs to be at the head in marriage, yet many people fail to keep him there. And therefore, problems develop within their marriages. Keeping Jesus as head of your marriage means that he is the leader; he is the foundation and guides you in all things. Everything is surrendered to him, and he leads you by his Word. When I say everything is surrendered to him, that means that there is nothing you are doing in your lives, no significant choices are being made, without first running it by Him to see what he wants you to do. And, he will guide people in what to do, and he places his dreams and visions in people’s hearts. But for a couple to say that they are just going to do this or that, without even considering whether this is something that God wants them to do, is a very foolish. A decision made without surrender to God will in fact lead to problems, and most likely failure.

       The Word of God needs to be at the heart of marriage; it must be central to it. Each person within the marriage gets his or her individual direction in life, and how to live, from the Word of God. The Scriptures are foundational to success in life, and on how to live in a way that is pleasing to God. When we are individually living like God wants us to live, this will, in turn, result in better married-life. Each individual within the marriage is doing what God wants, and therefore, it is only natural that marriage is flowing better in that case. Recall 2 Timothy 3:16, and I don’t think we often look at this verse with marriage in mind, but let’s consider it with that focus today: “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (ESV). Notice how the verse says “equipped for every good work.” Well, that includes marriage, and things that married couples work together to accomplish.

       When Jesus is at the head of a marriage, it allows the couple to be united together with their focus on him. It produces more peaceful, pleasant, and happier lives among the partners. It makes God happy when their is unity in marriage, and it definitely will produce happiness for the married individuals. Living with Jesus as head also will naturally provide blessings for a couple. As you learn more and more about each other, and as you grow together into further spiritual maturity in Christ, you can find more desirable ways of doing things, and you will find what is pleasing to the Lord. God wants couples to grow toward maturity, and closer to him as the Head, and this certainly will lead to further blessings in married life. A couple should not be expecting blessings from God if they are not willing to grow in him. But by having Jesus at the Head, he can and will give you the desires of your hearts.

Number two: The wife trying to lead her husband

Ephesians 5:22-24: “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands”
(ESV). See also Titus 2:4.

       We just talked about how Christ is the head of the church, and how that too makes him the head of a marriage. Paul points out here in these verses that as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in every area. This is the design and order that God has setup for marriage, at least in today’s day and age, for the husband to be head of the wife. Paul gave a reason for this to Timothy. He said, “For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control” (1 Timothy 2:13-15 ESV). Now, for many people’s marriages, this is not a problem at all—that of the husband being the head of the family. This is because it is in the natural instincts of a woman to want to submit to her husband, as that is the way God has made her internal drive. The normal drive then of the man is to lead.

       But while these are the natural drives God has placed inside of people, sometimes the wife does want to try to lead her husband. At times this is because the wife is a strong-willed woman. She has a high drive, and wants things to be her way. And while there is nothing wrong with a woman having a high drive, she can also, along with the elevated motivation, learn to submit to her husband. Nevertheless, sometimes the woman leads because the man is unconfident and won’t lead her. Now, a man might be like this because he grew up with an overbearing father, who caused him to be discouraged, or without a father at all, and this caused him to lose his confidence in life, or not properly develop it. Whatever the reason for the woman trying to lead her husband, this is not the way God has designed the marriage relationship to be.

       A man who is unconfident or unmotivated in life can learn to become more confident and further motivated. Again, it is important for the man to learn what is at the root of his problems, and there are many Christian self-help books that will help a person to do this. Sometimes, in more severe cases, the man may need counseling to try to discover the underlying issues behind his unconfident attitude so that he can then learn to better himself by becoming more confident. I should also state that not every man has the same type of drive in life, obviously, as some are more driven than others. There are both introverts and extroverts as well. I’m not saying a man has to become an extrovert to be confident. There are many introverts, myself included, who can display confidence.

       The wife is not to lead her husband, but rather let the husband lead her. This doesn’t mean the wife does not provide wisdom for her husband, or even teach him things by what she says to him. However, when the woman tries to overly teach her man, or even provide correction to him, which is not from God, this causes friction to develop in the relationship. The marriage relationship is not supposed to be an argumentative one, but this is one way that arguments can develop. Remember, love needs to be central to whatever advice or correction is given. For a wife to submit to her husband means that she yields to him when he wants her to. This doesn’t mean the wife doesn’t have say in things, it just means the husband is the ultimate decider in the varying situations of life that come along.

Number three: Having overly busy schedules

“We urge you, brothers… to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you” (1 Thessalonians 4:10, 11, ESV).

       One thing that can really mess up a marriage, and family life for that matter, is an overly busy schedule. Now, this may be present in one of the individuals, or both individuals in the marriage. Sometimes the problem is with the career or workplace of the individual, and at times it is a problem of the children having too many extracurricular actives that take up too much time. Whatever the case, we learn from the verse I just read that God wants us to live quiet lives, and we cannot live quiet lives if we are constantly running around from one event to the next one. Truly, each person in a marriage can decide how to spend their time. It is your responsibility. If the job is asking for too much, then maybe it’s time for a new job. If the children are involved in too much at school, then it’s time for you to step in and correct that.

       Remember, you should not follow the world’s model for how many activities you participate in—for the parents, outside of work, and for the children, outside of school. It may be true that most other families do many activities, and they are running from one place to the next constantly. But your family doesn’t have to be like that. Don’t allow the pressures of seeing what other families do, or of what other children do at school, be the guide for your family. You must take control of your own lives and live in a way that provides a peaceful lifestyle. Hurriedness is overrated, and definitely takes away peace in people’s lives. Fathers should have the ultimate say in what their children participate in, and not children telling the fathers what they are going to do at school. I understand that most families don’t operate this way, but I also understand that most are way too busy.

       It is important for each person in a marriage to do the work that the Lord as assigned to each individual. For some folks, that includes going to church on Sunday mornings and participating in a Bible study during the week. And some spend more time with further church activities, and some are even elders or deacons. But one needs to realize that whatever your particular case, it is important that you have a balanced schedule. You should not have something scheduled every night after work, and you need to spend time with your marriage partner. Even if your both involved in this or that ministry, really that time isn’t all that you need together. You need one-on-one time, alone, just the two of you, so that things can be balanced. Don’t worry about what other people are doing, or the expectations they setup or model that you feel you have to follow. The important thing is to keep our lives full of peace, and we can’t do that if we’re doing too much.

Number four: Not having alone time

Mark 1:35: “And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he [Jesus] departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed” (ESV).

       Some couples just spend too much time together. The amount of time spent together definitely fluctuates from coupe to couple, but I think that most know, or will know, that you need alone from the other person. When you are around someone too much, and that includes your spouse, you are going to get tired of that person. Just as Jesus modeled for people, individuals need to make sure they are spending time with God, and sometimes alone with God without your spouse if you are married. This allows a person to clear his or her mind, and to just be alone with the most important person his or her life, which is God. And sometimes, a person needs to ‘get away.’ Now, this may mean going into a different room of the house for a while, or going to the coffee shop, but people sometimes need that physical distance.

       And for couples who work together this is going to be even a greater challenge. Since you see each other at work, you are going to have to try harder to find alone time outside of work. But it still definitely can be done. And this is a good spot for friends to come in the picture. Maybe the wife would like to get away with a female friend or group of friends and take a vacation. Or the husband the same. This can be good for each person in the marriage because it allows each person to have a break and regain some strength. It can produce growth as well. Sometimes couples have to be away from each other in order to refresh their perspectives on how much they love each other. When you are constantly with the person, it is easier to take that person for granted and to lose perspective. But breaks are in fact good.

Number five: Putting your children first

1 Timothy 3:4, 5: “He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God's church?” (ESV).

       In writing to Timothy, Paul told him that leaders within the church needed to “manage their households well.” And that includes one keeping his children’s time in proper perspective. Really, this passage should be the aim of every believer with children in the body of Christ. For those who are not leaders, Paul said we are to imitate our leaders, so that would include doing what they do. One of the areas of managing children includes the time that is spent with the children’s extracurricular activities and things the children want to do.

       Children have to learn to be submissive to their fathers, just like the wife is to be submissive to her husband. Again, this is something that in American society today may be very foreign to many. The proper order that we find in the New Testament is this: first God, second spouse, and third children. Our society, here in America, has it like this: you are God, the children are second, and your spouse is third with an excess time that you have. That’s completely backward. And that’s why we see so many families in chaos with so many problems. God’s way is always the correct way. And his way brings about truly fulfilling life, life that includes success, joy, and happiness.

       Paul has said, “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord” (Colossians 3:20, ESV). It should be the ultimate goal for children to want to do what their parents say. For any children who are listening, you should not argue with your parents. You shouldn’t question what they ask you to do, or what they tell you to do. It pleases God when you are obedient from the heart, when you are willing to do right with a good and honest heart. And it makes peace for everyone in your family. If you are going against your parents, this will cause a lack of harmony and peace for you, your mother and father, and any brothers or sisters you may have. You don’t want to have everyone be unhappy, do you? When you do what your parents tell you, this makes everyone happy. You may not want to do it now, but it will make you happy later that you did.

       When parents work very hard doing everything their children want, without taking into perspective what they need, they can become overly tired and burned out. And when a parent runs out of gas, this puts pressure on the other partner in the marriage. You may not act correctly because you’re too tired. You may get after your spouse, or your children in ways that you shouldn’t. You can become critical of their behaviors. Being too burned out can definitely lead to negative symptoms. It’s not selfish for a father to put his foot down and say that enough is enough with what the children want. He is the head and is to lead, and he should decide what’s in the best interest of everyone in the family—not just his children. He should consider what is in the best interest of his wife, and himself. We can only truly love others if we love ourselves first.

Advice for Singles

       Now, I want to take a moment here and address singles before I close today, and give a few thoughts. I had titled this sermon ‘Dealing with Problems in Marriage’ and I want to talk to you who are single out there and about dealing with some problems before you get married. First, I would like to say that if you are waiting to find the right person to marry, now is the time that you want to be spending in growing to become more like Jesus. Your growth should be in rapid acceleration, for that likely is why God is making you wait for your partner. He wants you to grow into becoming a better person so that when the time does come for you to marry, you will be better able to handle challenges that come with marriage.

       Number two, I want to tell you that you should always follow your heart when deciding who to marry. We should never follow logic in our minds, or even conveniences, when deciding on our marriage partners. You should follow your heart when making your choice. Sometimes people will marry someone just because they have decided they want to get married, and that person is the only Christian he or she is around. But you shouldn’t make your choice based on that. Sometimes you have to be patient and wait for God to bring the right person to you. Remember, God is never in a hurry in regard to anything. God loves to do things right, and waiting is often necessary. My grandfather used to say, “If your not going to do it right, don’t do it at all.” And that’s true with selecting your marriage partner. A lack of patience can result in you marrying a person who isn’t best for you, and of whom you wont be most fulfilled with.

       Remember also, number three, that God has given us freedom, as Christians, in this area of selecting our mates. In 1 Corinthians 7:39, God told widowed women that they were “free” to be married to whomever they wished, with the only stipulation that the person was a Christian, a believer. And so this applies to all of us as pertains to our freedom in Christ. If there is someone you have become friends with in your life who is of the opposite sex and he or she is a Christian, that doesn’t necessarily mean God is wanting you to marry that person. Often times it doesn’t mean that. Paul told Timothy to “treat younger women as sisters” (1 Timothy 5:2, ESV). We as Christian guys do have sisters in the body of Christ, and you Christian girls have guys who are your brothers. In other words, not every girl is a potential prospect for marriage, and vice versa for girls. Some people freak out and think that because they find themselves next to someone, that that is who God is telling them to marry. When God does lead you to the right person, that person will align with your heart’s desire.

       One way I like to look at it is there are few things in life that are as important as marriage. Indeed, think of a Space Shuttle launch. If you’ll remember, the launch had to be a 100 percent go, or the Shuttle did not launch. If it was an 80 percent go, the Shuttle didn’t launch. You should have no doubt in your mind whatsoever that the person you are about to marry is the one person you want to marry. If there is doubt of any kind, then it’s a no go. Recall the saying, “When in doubt, throw it out.” And that stands true here. If you marry for the wrong reasons, you will marry the wrong person, and you will regret it later. Now don’t get me wrong, just because you are 100 percent sure that you want to marry the other person doesn’t guarantee the success of the relationship, just like a 100 percent go on a Shuttle launch didn’t guarantee the success of the launch or mission. But, we should do everything we can on our parts beforehand to be 100 percent confident we are making the right decision, and we certainly have to work at our relationship to keep it the best it can be.


       Whatever situation you find yourself in today, whether you are married and are trying to make your marriage better, or whether you are single or dating, and are waiting to get married, whatever the case, perhaps what I’ve said today has had an impact on you. My goal is to see people growing into becoming better in their lives as Christians, to becoming more and more like Jesus in their lives. And it could be today that there are some of you out there who don’t know God, who don’t have a personal relationship with God. You feel that you have no connection with him. Well, I am here today to tell you that you can be in right relationship with God. It is true that God wants to come into relationship with everyone in the world, and that includes you today.

       In fact, God sent his Son Jesus into the world, some 2,000 years ago, and he died on a cross to provide a payment for God for all the wrongs humans have done in their lives. You see, in order for us as humans to be in right relationship with God, he requires that we have a payment for all the wrongs we’ve done in our lives, all of our offenses against him. God is a holy, righteous, and just God, and in his holiness he demands payment for people’s sins, the wrong things they’ve done against him. Thankfully, though, Jesus came to the earth, died on the cross for our sins, and anyone who accepts his death as a substitute payment for their sins can be made right with God today. He or she can come into total peace with God, and never be in danger of the judgment that God is going to bring against individuals in the near future.

       Jesus conquered the grave, rising from the dead, and is with God today in Heaven. Just as Jesus has new life today, anyone who believes in Jesus also gets a new life. All of their sins are blotted out, and they are made clean both now and forever. Jesus brings people into relationship with God. And my, let me tell you there is nothing like being in right relationship with God. He is our loving Father, and there is nothing like the fulfillment one experiences with their fellowshipping with him. And not only that, because he is our Father, he gives us both good things now, and even better things in the future after this life is over. We will be with him forever, and be in total peace within ourselves and total harmony with those who are with us in Heaven. You cannot lose by coming into right relationship with God. With God, all there is, is gain.

       If you would like to come in a personal relationship with God today through Jesus, then follow my lead in this prayer:

God, today I am separated from you. But I am tired of not being in relationship with you. I want to turn from doing things my way, and accept your free gift of life and payment for my offenses by what Jesus accomplished on the cross for me. I believe he did come to the earth, that he died, and that he rose again for me. I want a new life today, and want to trust in you. Please, Father, help me to start over again today, in Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

-Daniel Litton