What Will Make My Marriage Work?


What Some People Are Saying
It All Began With God
Ten Biblical Building Blocks
1. Lifelong Commitment
2. Shared Identity
3. Absolute Faithfulness
4. Well-Defined Roles
5. Unreserved Love
6. Mutual Submission
7. Sexual Fulfillment
8. Open Communication
9. Tender Respect
10. Spiritual Companionship
Five Facts About Marriage
Checklists For Husbands And Wives
Taking The First Step

Managing Editor: David Sper
Cover Illustration: Stan Myers
©1987 RBC Ministries--Grand Rapids, MI 49555 Printed in USA

What Will Make My Marriage Work?

Increasing numbers of men and women are asking this question. And divorce statistics show that many of them aren't finding answers. But there are answers--in God's Word. And with that confidence, David Egner has written this booklet to summarize what the Bible says about marriage. It is our prayer that through the answers found in these pages, the love of many will be renewed and sustained.

Martin R. De Haan II, President of RBC Ministries

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What Some People Are Saying

When a marriage starts to turn sour, men and women react in a variety of ways. Here is a sample of how some husbands and wives are responding:

Divorce. Extramarital affairs. Counselors. Alcohol. Drugs. Resignation. These are just some of the ways people are trying to deal with their marriage difficulties. But most of the time all they are doing is making a bad situation worse. There is another way--a better way. Even if you are ready to call a lawyer. Even if reconciliation seems hopeless. You can go to God--to the One who made marriage in the first place. He's the One who can make you into the right kind of husband or wife--the kind that pleases Him.

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It All Began With God

Marriage was made in heaven. It all began in Paradise. God saw that man's aloneness was not good, so He made him a "helper comparable to him." And when God brought the woman to him, the first marital relationship began. Adam and Eve shared the wonderful garden paradise God had created for them as husband and wife. Here is how the Bible says it all began:

The LORD God said, "It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him." . . . And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man (Gen. 2:18,21-22).

Eve was made to be Adam's "helper comparable." As his helper, she was given to him to help him find fulfillment. The English word helper does not express all that is poured into the Hebrew term. It refers to someone who helps another find fulfillment. In one instance, it was used to tell of someone who came to the rescue of another. In that first marital relationship, then, the woman was brought to man to fulfill him, in a sense to rescue him from his aloneness.

As a comparable helper, Eve was Adam's qualified, corresponding partner. God made her to be a suitable companion to the man He had made. She was, as Charles Swindoll described it, the "missing piece in the puzzle of his life."

That's how God began it all in Eden. And to have a marriage that works, we need to go back to His principles--those building blocks for marriage that are found in God's Word.

The Genesis account of the beginning of marriage concludes with a statement that expresses four elements that should be part of every marriage (see Gen. 2:24-25). They are as follows:
  • A Cutting Off. "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother." The marital partners leave their parents.
  • A Bonding. "And be joined to his wife." The picture of the first marriage includes the idea of a gluing, a permanent bonding.
  • A Unity. "And they shall become one flesh." The two are to see themselves as one. The old family units are broken; a new one begins.
  • An Intimacy. "And they were both naked . . . and they were not ashamed." Their absence of self-consciousness enabled them to enjoy one another and to meet each other's needs without any sense of embarrassment or rejection.

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Ten Biblical Building Blocks

When God made marriage, gave the command to replenish the earth, and insisted that marriage be a lifelong relationship, He did not leave us on our own to make it work somehow. He told us in the Bible how to make our marriages work. In the following pages we will look at 10 biblical building blocks for a successful marriage. They are:

As we think through these 10 building blocks, remember that they are not man-made. They are given to us by God Himself. Because they are, you can know with certainty that when you and your mate follow them, you will have a marriage that works.

But perhaps that's impossible for you because your marital partner is unsaved or refuses to accept the authority of the Bible. Yet, if your partner is willing to remain with you, this is your opportunity to show your mate the kind of husband or wife God can help you to be (1 Cor. 7:12-16). So don't put the booklet down. We sincerely believe it will help.

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Lifelong Commitment

The first biblical building block for a marriage that works is for the man and woman to make a lifelong commitment. The Word of God makes it clear that when a man and woman decide to marry, they are at the same time committing themselves to remain married until one of them dies. The Lord Jesus said:

Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, "For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh?" So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate (Mt. 19:4-6).

Then, in response to a question about divorce, Jesus continued:

Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery (vv.8-9).

The marriage vow, therefore, is the expression of a lifelong commitment. The meaning of the vow "from this day forward" extends throughout one's lifetime. It's a vow that is not to be broken (see Eccl. 5:4).

Consider the following true story: A man and woman had been married only a year when she was diagnosed as a victim of multiple sclerosis. After thinking seriously about it, she told her husband she was "setting him free." But he did not leave her. The tender care and love he showered on her made her remaining years happy and special. Why did he do it? "Because," he said, "when I vowed before God 'for better or for worse' and 'in sickness and in health,' I meant it. And God made both of us unbelievably happy as a result."

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Shared Identity

The second building block in a marriage that works is for husband and wife to see themselves as one. No longer is it a man living his life for himself and a woman living hers for herself. There is now a new union, a new family, a new unit. Adam expressed this shared identity when God brought him the woman. He said:

This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man (Gen. 2:23).
The next verse concludes with the words, "they shall become one flesh" (v.24).

But it's not always easy to live out that oneness in everyday life. This is because the husband and wife have:

Besides, Eve was not a clone of Adam. She was unique, as every human being is unique. She did not come off some assembly line. She was different, both physically and emotionally. She had different needs--needs Adam alone could satisfy. And she alone could satisfy Adam's needs.

In marriage, a man and woman are brought into union. They become one, blending into one another's lives. It's once-for-all, yet it's a process. Time, love, patience, and forgiveness are needed to bring the shared identity of marriage into maturity. And it has wonderful results. The man and woman are no longer alone. They are one, even at a time when:

The two are one. Although they are distinct persons with vast differences, they have agreed to walk the path of life as one. They have a shared identity.

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Absolute Faithfulness

Not only is marriage a lifelong commitment of two people who have a shared identity, it also calls for total fidelity on the part of the husband and the wife. They are to be true to one another. The Bible gives no ground on this issue. The man is to be faithful to his wife; she to him. The writer of Proverbs cautioned:

Can a man take fire to his bosom, and his clothes not be burned? Can one walk on hot coals, and his feet not be seared? So is he who goes in to his neighbor's wife; whoever touches her shall not be innocent (6:27-29).

The Bible is uncompromising in its demand for sexual fidelity. Paul told Titus to have the older women instruct the younger women in the church "to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste" (2:4-5). As a woman enters a marriage relationship, she is to be committed to giving herself only to her husband.

Adultery is strictly forbidden in the Bible. The sixth commandment given on Sinai was, "You shall not commit adultery" (Ex. 20:14). Jesus mentioned this commandment in His conversation with the rich young ruler (Mt. 19:18). And Paul named adultery first in his list of the sins of the flesh (Gal. 5:19).

Marital faithfulness is the fulfillment of the vow made before God and man during the wedding ceremony: "And to you I pledge my faithfulness." One writer said:

This is how we must love one another, with a vowed love that is not dependent on happiness nor any of the external hallmarks of success. Where is such love to begin if it does not begin with the one closest to us, the life's partner whom we have chosen out of all the other people in the world as the apple of our eye? (Mike Mason, The Mystery of Marriage, p.106).

Here are some implications of absolute faithfulness--the third biblical building block of marriage:

By today's standards, absolute faithfulness "isn't natural." Of course not--not in a fallen world. But for our first parents in Paradise, it was as natural as could be. And today it will be part of every marriage that works.

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Well-Defined Roles

Today's society has made an all-out assault on marriage. And one of its attacks is on the traditional roles within the family. The wife is being told that since she has the same rights as her husband, she doesn't have to submit to anybody. Pressure is being put on the husband to take care of himself and not to worry about her. As a result, husbands and wives need direction. They need answers to basic questions about their specific roles.

Those answers are given in the Bible. And when they are put into practice, marriage will work.

The Husband's Role. The Bible says that the husband is the head of the wife. Paul wrote:

I want you to know that the head of every . . . woman is man, and the head of Christ is God (1 Cor. 11:3).

The husband is head of the wife (Eph. 5:23).

What does this mean? It means that the husband is to provide responsible leadership without being dictatorial or blindly self-serving. Biblically, his leadership is:

Now, the fact that the husband has been appointed head of the wife does not mean that he is superior. The same verse that says the man is head of the woman also says that God is the head of Christ (1 Cor. 11:3). And we know They are equal in nature. Both are fully God.

The husband's headship is functional. It helps the marriage work. It breaks the "tie votes." It also carries with it great responsibility. The husband is to provide loving, understanding, God-honoring leadership.

The Wife's Role. The woman is instructed in the Bible to submit to the leadership of her husband. For example:

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord (Eph. 5:22; cp. Col. 3:18). Likewise you wives, be submissive to your own husbands (1 Pet. 3:1). Admonish the young women . . . to be . . . obedient to their own husbands (Ti. 2:4-5).

God made man and woman to come together in a fulfilling, satisfying relationship. He made Adam first (1 Tim. 2:13), and He made him to be head (1 Cor. 11:3; Eph. 5:23). Adam was fulfilled in leading; Eve was to be fulfilled in accepting him as her leader (Gen. 2:18; 1 Cor. 11:8-9).

A woman who insists on being the decision-maker in the home is placing herself in a position of disobedience. Her determination to have her own way--despite the clear command of God and pattern of Scripture--is a shame to her and a threat to the success of her marriage.

The marriage works best when both husband and wife accept their roles. It's a functional necessity--a necessity exemplified within the Godhead itself. Consider these words of Christ: "My Father is greater than I" (Jn. 14:28). Yet He also said, "I and My Father are one" (Jn. 10:30).

Jesus came to earth to carry out in exact detail the will and plan of the Father. Although He was equal to the Father, He submitted Himself to the Father's leading.

It is similar in marriage. The husband will find fulfillment in headship, the wife will find joy in submission, and the marriage will be blessed of God. This is the way He designed it.

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Unreserved Love

The fifth building block for a marriage that works is love--genuine, heartfelt, through-thick-and-thin, till-death-us-do-part love. A husband and wife are to love one another with the kind of unreserved love that leads them to honor one another, to esteem one another, to consider one another's welfare above their own, and to stay by one another's side through the highs and lows and the ups and downs that come in every married life.

The husband was told specifically in the Bible to love his wife. Paul said it succinctly in Colossians 3:19, "Husbands, love your wives" (see also Eph. 5:25).

The wife also is expected to love her husband. You will remember, for example, that the older women of Crete were told to instruct the younger women to "love their husbands" (Ti. 2:4).

The love between a husband and wife that grows through the years of marriage does not happen automatically with the saying of the vows or the giving of a ring. It must be worked at! True, many wonderful and deep feelings are experienced by a couple who court, fall in love, and marry. As time goes on, however, they learn that love has a deeper and more practical dimension than the romantic aspect. They discover that they have to work at loving each other.

The biblical pattern for Christian love is spelled out in 1 Corinthians 13. Although the love defined and explained in these familiar verses is true of all relationships, it may be especially applied to marriage. Think about the practical ways the elements of love seen in verses 4-8 apply to a husband/wife relationship:

Christian husband or wife, this ought to describe your love for your mate. Love should express itself in patience, kindness, trust, and hope in your everyday life. It shouldn't have to wait for a crisis to be expressed. The principles of Christian love should be experienced most deeply, most genuinely, and most often by the man or woman you have chosen as your marital partner.

"But wait a minute," you say. "I'm doing my part, but my partner is not doing his. Do you expect me to keep loving him when he doesn't love me in return?"

It's hard to love when all the love seems to be flowing one way. It's hard when you're the only one doing the giving, the sacrificing, the holding on. It's hard when your partner's ego or pride or selfishness keeps your love from being returned. You've tried talking about it but nothing happens. You're ready to throw in the towel.

If you're thinking like that, it might help you to think about the Lord Jesus. If anyone ever had a reason to stop loving, He did. But He loved us without reservation, even to the point of dying on the cross tn our behalf. That is the kind of love we are to have.

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Mutual Submission

Some Bible interpreters have made much of the fact that wives are told in the Bible to submit to their husbands. In stressing the woman's responsibility, however, they fail to see that the passage in Ephesians 5 is prefaced by the following important words:

Do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, . . . submitting to one another in the fear of God (Eph. 5:18,21).

These verses were written to the entire Christian community. The apostle then applied the principle of mutual submission to many different relationships, the first of which was marriage. When a man and woman take their wedding vows, they enter a love relationship that calls for a lifetime of submission to one another.

Submission and love go together. We know that God is love, but how do we know He loves us? Because with great humility and submission, Christ went to the cross (Phil. 2:5-8).

In a Christian marriage, husband and wife, because they love God, are submitted to what the will of God is for them. They are in a process of letting go of themselves and submitting to God and to each other. Having the "mind of Christ" produces mutual submission. Some aspects may be expressed as follows:

So, what does this mean? It means that a woman has no right to see the normal household duties as beneath her. She is not to view herself as the family maid just because these duties are hers.

But it also means that the husband is not to view his house as his castle, and all of its inhabitants, including his wife, as his subjects. Rather, having the mind of Christ, he is to see it as the place where he has the best opportunity of all to humble himself--to be a servant.

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Sexual Fulfillment

In the garden paradise where it all began, Adam and Eve shared a wonderful intimacy: "They were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed" (Gen. 2:25). Furthermore, the command to replenish the earth came before the fall. Intimacy and mutual physical fulfillment, therefore, have always been part of the husband-wife relationship.

The husband and wife are to find sexual fulfillment in each other. The Bible gives the following perspectives:

It Is Protective. The husband and wife are to reserve this special intimacy for each other, and they are to give it freely. Paul wrote, "Because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband" (1 Cor. 7:2).

We are living in a sexually promiscuous age. There are few restraints. Advertisements are lurid. Television scenes are provocative. There's an emphasis on the body. Men and women are more aggressive than ever.

A husband and wife who maintain intimacy protect each other from a sexually obsessed society. They protect their own faithfulness.

It Is Enjoyable. After delivering a stern warning about prostitution, the wise author of Proverbs wrote these words to young husbands:

Drink water from your own cistern, and running water from your own well. Should your fountains be dispersed abroad, streams of water in the streets? Let them be only your own, and not for strangers with you. Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice with the wife of your youth. As a loving deer and a graceful doe, let her breasts satisfy you at all times; and always be enraptured with her love (5:15-19).

The sexual aspect of marriage is not a necessary evil to be endured for the purpose of procreation. It was designed by God to bring continuing pleasure--an intimate, exhilarating, renewing part of the husband-wife relationship.

It Is Expected. When a man and woman come together in marriage, each has a right to expect sexual fulfillment from the other. Paul wrote:

Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does (1 Cor. 7:3-4).

Paul went on to say that if one marital partner decides to abstain, it is first to be agreed upon with the other. Furthermore, the time of abstinence is to be brief.

Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control (1 Cor. 7:5).

Sexual fulfillment is an important part of marriage. Sexuality is not evil. This was not the sin in Eden that brought the fall. It must not be made more important than it is; nor should it be minimized. It is part of the overall picture--an intimate part of the shared identity of the man and woman who come together as husband and wife.

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Open Communication

In a survey taken a few years ago, the Family Services Association discovered that 87 percent of husbands and wives interviewed said that the main problem in their marriages was communication. The percentage would probably be the same in Christian marriages. The wife is frustrated because she can't get her husband to talk. The husband doesn't feel it does any good because his wife has already made up her mind anyway.

Here are some of the reasons husbands and wives do not communicate effectively:

For a marriage to work, however, the barriers to communication must be broken down. And one way to accomplish that is to follow the example of Christ. You will remember that husbands were instructed to love their wives as Christ loved the church. Two aspects of the Savior's relationship to the church could be applied to marriage.

Christ The Communicator. He is the living Word of God (Jn. 1:1-4). He came to make God known by word and by example. He revealed the will and character of God to man.

Christ is also involved in a continuing process of communicating with the church. He is seated in heaven, inviting us to "come boldly to the throne of grace" (Heb. 4:16) to tell God what is on our hearts and to let Him know our needs.

How can Christ's example of communication with His church apply to a marriage?

Without open communication, it will be hard for a marriage to work.

Christ The Head. Colossians 1:18 says that Christ is "the head of the body, the church." A head must be in touch with all parts of the body for it to function smoothly. Through the nervous system, it sends and receives information. It tells the finger when to move; it is told when the finger feels pain. If communication is missing, the body cannot function as one.

The same is true of a marriage. The man, as head of the home, must communicate with his wife. And she in turn must be free to communicate with him. Unless there is two-way communication, as between Christ and His own, the marriage will experience difficulty.

Christian psychologist Paul Tournier made this observation about marital communication:

No doubt they [a husband and wife] do talk about everything, but it is all objective, all about facts and ideas, which is what a man is interested in. For a woman, real dialogue means talking about her feelings--her own feelings. But even more importantly, about her husband's feelings, which she wants to understand, but which he does not know how to explain ("Listening to Her," Family Life Today, Nov. 1982, p.26).

What can you do if you feel your mate is not listening? Here are four suggestions:

It's hard to converse honestly on all levels, but it's worth the pain and effort. Open communication is an essential building block of marriage!

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Tender Respect

Sometimes marital partners are like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. In public they are considerate, forgiving, patient, and sweet-tempered. But once they are behind the closed doors of their own home, they turn ill-tempered, surly, and unforgiving. Their mates only wish they could be treated the way their partner treats others.

In Ephesians 4:31-32 the apostle Paul wrote:

Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ also forgave you.

This passage certainly applies to husbands and wives in a marriage relationship. Speaking to wives, Paul said, "Let the wife see that she respects her husband" (Eph. 5:33). Peter told wives to be submissive to their husbands and even to pattern their behavior after Sarah, who "obeyed Abraham, calling him lord" (1 Pet. 3:1,5-6)--a picture of her respect for him.

Peter then spoke to husbands in verse 7 and advocated that they respect their wives as well. He gave three instructions:

  1. "Dwell with [your wife] with understanding." He was saying, "Know your wife well so that you can respect her feelings." A husband should make this his goal. He should know what pleases and comforts her, and also what hurts and angers her. This special understanding can then be used in building her up rather than tearing her down.

  2. "Giving honor . . . as to the weaker vessel." If a man is going to move five containers and he knows one of them is more fragile than the others, he will handle that one more carefully. This is how a husband should treat his wife. He should give her special honor and respect. Husband, buy your wife gifts, send her flowers, remember her birthday, take her special places.

  3. "As being heirs together of the grace of life." The gifts of life are not only the husband's to enjoy. They are given by God equally to both, and they should be shared together. A man must respect his wife and not rob the joy of life God created her to have.

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Spiritual Companionship

Finally, and perhaps most important, a Christian husband and wife should see themselves as spiritual companions. They are making a spiritual journey through life together, walking hand in hand as children of God toward the wonderful eternity with God that awaits them. What a difference it makes when a marriage has a godly husband and a dedicated wife! No one can measure how much they help each other spiritually as they travel life's road together.

The spiritual dimension was included in the passages about marriage we've been discussing. Speaking to husbands about their wives, Paul said:

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for it, that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies (Eph. 5:25-28).

There is to be a purifying, cleansing dimension to the marriage. Just as the church is made pure because of Jesus Christ, so the wife should be made better by her relationship to her husband.

And how is that accomplished? The same way Christ helped the church: He loved it and gave Himself for it. Love and sacrifice--these set a marriage apart and make possible a true spiritual companionship.

Peter also mentioned the spiritual dimension in his passage on marriage. He closed it by saying, "that your prayers may not be hindered" (1 Pet. 3:7). As the husband understands his wife, giving her honor and seeing her as a joint-heir of the grace of life, he will be able to pray with power. If he does not, Peter says, his prayers will be "hindered." He will lose the easy freedom of unhindered prayer.

Here are some qualities that will be present in a marriage where husband and wife are spiritual companions:

As a husband and wife draw closer to the Lord through prayer, Bible reading, fellowship, and submission to Christ, they will also draw closer to one another. This relationship may be diagrammed as a triangle. As the husband and wife draw closer to God, they will also grow closer to one another in a relationship that pleases God.

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Five Facts About Marriage

Pastors and marriage counselors repeatedly hear husbands and wives make statements that are not true. Here are five facts about marriage that are often disputed by marital partners under stress.

1. You aren't married to the wrong person. Sometimes it doesn't take very long before the wife begins to wonder if she married the right guy, or the husband begins to think he made a mistake. This often happens in that period of adjustment while idealistic expectations for marriage are being brought into line with reality.

So you begin to tell yourself that you married the wrong person. But that's no longer an issue. You made a lifelong commitment. Now your responsibility before God, except in cases of infidelity, is to stay with the one you have married (Mt. 19:4-9; 1 Cor. 7:10-14).

2. His failure to lead isn't your excuse. "Well," the young woman said emphatically, "if he would only lead the way he's supposed to, we could work things out. But he won't, so I have to make the decisions. Then he criticizes them. I can't stand it any longer."

She's right about one thing. Her husband should assume the role of head of the house. He should be taking the lead, especially in spiritual matters.

Even so, his failure to lead is no excuse for her disobedience. Her responsibility before the Lord still calls for her to be a loving, spiritual woman of growing inner beauty (1 Pet. 3:1-6). If she uses what she sees as his failure to lead as an excuse for her own poor behavior, she is failing every bit as much as he is.

3. Her failure to submit isn't your excuse. Some husbands have a built-in excuse for every shortcoming or failure--they blame their wives.

When a man starts talking like this, he's refusing to accept his own responsibility in the family decision-making process. True, she did provide input. Perhaps she was insistent. But that's not your excuse. You have to stop blaming her and begin to do what's right before God.

4. Sex isn't all he thinks about. Sometimes a hard-working, busy wife begins to think that all her husband is interested in is having his sexual needs met. This feeling may become especially pronounced if any of the following circumstances are true:

Now, it's true that he may need a sharp reminder that you have other needs than just physical ones. But it's also true that you may be giving in to self-pity and an exaggeration of the problem. You both need to do some adjusting. Try giving him the benefit of the doubt. Talk to him about your feelings. Plan a weekend away or a mini-vacation together. And don't delay. The problem needs to be confronted before it gets any larger.

5. Appearance isn't all she thinks about. A fifth fact about marriage is that women do think about more than appearance. But some husbands don't believe it. They argue:

It's true that women do have pride in appearance. They often are more concerned with what others think about them than men are. And Peter did speak bluntly to women about the danger of putting too much emphasis on looking good on the outside when they should be paying attention to the "hidden person of the heart" (1 Pet. 3:4).

But let's face it, men. We do need our wives to help us. Some of us are slobs. If we're honest, we'll admit we're glad for their attention to detail.

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Checklist For Husbands
Husbands, now that you've read what the Bible teaches about your role and responsibilities in marriage, take a moment to evaluate yourself. Rate yourself by circling the appropriate number: 5-excellent; 4-very good; 3-good; 2-poor; 1-failing.

1 2 3 4 5 I see myself as having left father and mother and as bonded to my wife.
1 2 3 4 5 I see my wife as one with me in every phase of my life.
1 2 3 4 5 I do my best to be faithful to her in thought as well as in deed.
1 2 3 4 5 I provide my wife the kind of loving leadership Christ gives the church.
1 2 3 4 5 I often sacrifice my interests for my wife's well-being.
1 2 3 4 5 I often tell her that I love her and do little things to show it.
1 2 3 4 5 I'm concerned about her feelings, and I listen when she talks about them.
1 2 3 4 5 I try to say something nice to my wife every day and don't go to sleep angry.
1 2 3 4 5 I do not use my wife's shortcomings as excuses for my own failures.
1 2 3 4 5 I talk about spiritual matters with her, and I often pray for her and with her.

Now have your wife evaluate you. Be open to areas that need improvement.

Checklist For Wives
Wives, now that you've read what the Bible teaches about your role and responsibilities in marriage, you might want to stop and evaluate how you are doing. Rate yourself by circling the appropriate number: 5-excellent; 4-very good; 3-good; 2-poor; 1-failing.

1 2 3 4 5 I do not let myself think that I have married the wrong person.
1 2 3 4 5 I have left my father and mother and share identity with my husband.
1 2 3 4 5 I am committed to making our marriage last until one of us dies.
1 2 3 4 5 I do not use sexual fulfillment as a weapon to get my own way.
1 2 3 4 5 I am willing to submit to my husband's headship as ordained by God.
1 2 3 4 5 I feel that inner beauty is more important than physical attractiveness.
1 2 3 4 5 I show respect for my husband in my attitudes and my actions.
1 2 3 4 5 I do little things for him that I know will please him.
1 2 3 4 5 I don't use my husband's short-comings as an excuse for my failures.
1 2 3 4 5 I see myself as my husband's spiritual companion, and I pray for him and with him.

Now ask your husband to rate you in these areas and compare notes. Be honest, and be open to improvement.

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Taking The First Step

For a marriage to work the way God designed it, both partners must be right with Him. He created marriage because He saw that it wasn't good for man to be alone. He has revealed His will about marriage. And when both husband and wife are obeying Him, their marriage will work.

As a Christian, is your marriage a good one? If there are problems, is it because you have left God behind, trying to make it work on your own? If so, let me urge you to go back to the Bible--and to God Himself. Admit that you've made a mess of things and that you can't do it without Him. Turn from your pride, rebellion, and stubbornness. Confess your sin to God. Ask Him to help you build into your marriage the 10 biblical building blocks we named in this booklet. And let your spouse know what you have done--even if you have to be broken in spirit to start anew.

If you're not a Christian, the first step for you is to trust in Jesus Christ. The starting place for a marriage that works is that it involves two born-again people. To become a Christian you must acknowledge your sin, be willing to turn from it, admit that you can't save yourself, and ask Christ to save you. Claim the promise of John 3:16 and trust in Christ as your Lord and Savior.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

When you believe in Him, you'll have taken the first step toward having a marriage that works!

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