Until Death Do Us Part

Two women went to lunch one day. One of the women noticed something odd about her friend and commented, “You’re wearing your wedding ring on the wrong finger.” To that her friend quickly replied, “That’s because I’m married to the wrong man!” We may laugh at that little joke, but friends, the vast majority of marital problems— despite what we may think—are not because we’re married to the wrong person, but because we’re following the wrong plan. We’re ignorant of God’s original intent for marriage or choose to follow our own plan instead. We push “for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part” to a far corner of our mind where it will make no demands on our selfish desires. We’d much rather pledge fidelity, trust, and commitment “as long as our love shall last,” rather than “until death do us part.” But that is not God’s plan, and that perspective will never bring us what we’re looking for in this earthly life. Only when we examine again and take as our own God’s original intent for marriage and commit to doing it right will we achieve a marriage that is “happily even after”—even after unmet needs, crushing disappointment, or unspeakable tragedy rears its head and threatens the foundation of our married life.

Psalm 18:30 announces, “God’s way is perfect. All the LORD’s promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to him for protection.” God’s way for marriage is perfect. For those who will dare to believe Him, all His promises are true: You can have a life-affirming relationship with your spouse. You can build a love that will weather the storms of life and the disappointment of unfulfilled dreams and unmet potential. You can journey through life with a companion who completes you, complements your weaknesses, and enhances your strengths. You can, most assuredly, live happily even after in the great adventure called marriage. But it all begins with understanding and embracing God’s plan.

So, if marriage was made in heaven—and it was—and if the Word of God is true— and it is—then we certainly want to take a look at what God says about it in the Bible. That means going back to the beginning, to the book of Genesis. After God created the heavens and the earth, the animals, and man himself, He looked upon His work and proclaimed it good. He established a lush garden and placed the man within it to tend it and watch over it. But then, in Genesis 2:18, God made a very interesting observation: “It is not good for the man to be alone” (emphasis added). God found something that was “not good” in His wondrous creation, and it was the fact that man was alone. Immediately God initiated His plan: “I will make a helper who is just right for him” (v.18).

In the next two verses of Genesis 2, verses 19 and 20, we see God bringing the animals before Adam for him to name. I don’t believe it’s too far a stretch to assume that they came before him in pairs, but “there was no helper just right for him” (v. 20). I believe in this Adam learned something very important: neither his work nor his dominion over creation could fully satisfy him. Something was missing, and he would remain incomplete unless God intervened.

And intervene He did—putting Adam to sleep and removing a rib from his side to fashion a perfect helpmate. Then he brought her to Adam. Listen to Adam’s pure, unadulterated joy when he opened his eyes to the scene before him: “ ‘At last!’ the man exclaimed. ‘This one is bone from my bone, and flesh from my flesh! She will be called “woman,” because she was taken from “man” ’ ” (v. 23). In his words “At last!” is the fulfillment of his longing. I can almost hear Adam saying, “Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about!”

Then, the culmination of God’s plan is seen in verse 24: “This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.” Jesus quoted this verse in the Gospels and the apostle Paul in Ephesians. It is the foundation for all marriage and the starting point for our study.

Included in this passage from Genesis 2 is the need to recognize basic man-woman differences and the acknowledgment that these differences are of divine origin. There was a lot of stuff in the rib that was removed from man and placed in woman. Take the shopping gene, for instance. Obviously, Eve got the bulk of that “talent,” as seen in the distinctive ways most men and women approach shopping. For men, the process looks like this: acquire target, secure target, return to base. I can testify from experience that when I go shopping with my wife, we look at things we didn’t go to the mall for, we come home with things I didn’t know we needed, and we buy things just because they are on sale in order to save money on them. (My male brain says we could save a lot more by leaving this stuff at the store, but I don’t mention that to my wife!) These differences between male and female are not wrong—they’re just different. Nonetheless, basic malefemale differences are often the source of big problems in marriage and therefore need to be addressed.

Here’s a point to recognize first and foremost as we begin our study of doing marriage right:

Marriage is the solution—not the problem.

When God declared Adam’s aloneness as “not good,” He immediately solved the problem by creating Eve. Marriage is God’s solution to a problem, not the cause of it. That’s an important point to grasp. Your marriage is intended to be the solution to a problem—not the cause of creating even bigger ones!

When God sees that something is not good and then creates a solution, as He did when He gave Eve to Adam, then how can the thing created as the solution so often seem like the problem? The answer is, the problem lies not in the solution, but in the people involved. We are the problem in our marriage—not the marriage itself. We are the ones who have deviated from God’s plan—not, as some claim, that the plan is inadequate and irrelevant in today’s world.

Excerpt from “Happily… Even After” now available on Amazon.

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