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Marriage unity is something that most people recognize as an important part of a successful and loving marriage, but few actually achieve it.
In 1858, Abraham Lincoln said, “A house divided against itself, cannot stand,” in his speech accepting the US senator’s role from Illinois.
Obviously, Lincoln was speaking of slavery. He knew that either slavery had to be abolished in the south or have to move north and become the law of the entire country.
Lucky for us, Lincoln won the presidency just two years later. He guided the country through the Civil War and freed the slaves through his Emancipation Proclamation. He unified the country, but the process wasn’t pretty.
There were mistakes along the way on both sides. Even once the war was over, and the country unified again, it wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns.
Unity was hard. It still is. And marriage is no exception.
Marriage unity in the Bible
The quote was not something Lincoln wrote. It’s found in the Bible in Mark.
And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. Mark 3:25
The same goes for a marriage. You can’t be divided and stay married for the long-term.
There’s no magic bullet that will bring marriage unity to every relationship! You have to decide to work on it and recognize that it is a continual process. You will both make mistakes, but the final result is worth the work.
What are some mistakes you should avoid in your quest for marriage unity? Read on and see where you may need to start the process of building an unwavering oneness.
Not praying together
Even though many people are still working from home at this time, it can be challenging to find time to spend in prayer and Bible study together. The struggles of maintaining a house, raising (and sometimes schooling) children, and other obligations all compete for our time.
Some people do find praying with their spouse difficult. In some ways, praying together can seem more intimate than sex, as it requires a different type of vulnerability.
For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them. Matthew 18:20
It is worth it to find the time, though. Couples who pray together regularly say they feel more connected and better equipped to deal with difficult situations.
Ask God to help you overcome these obstacles and connect in a new way to keep your marriage unified.
Not having fun
Let’s be honest. Marriage isn’t always fun and games. It’s hard. Sometimes it’s really hard.
Research shows that the more fun you have in your life, the happier you will be. Couples that participated in creative date nights, doing things they have never done before, showed much greater satisfaction with their marriage.
Those new experiences activate the brain’s reward system, flooding it with dopamine and norepinephrine. These are the same hormones released when we first fall in love with someone.
How much fun do you have in your marriage? Do you create opportunities to be playful and have fun? Do you try to turn the mundane into extraordinary once in a while?
Leaving divorce on the table
Some couples fight over the same things for so long without anything getting resolved. This frustration builds up until one spouse feels like the only thing left to do is threaten divorce and let the other person know just how serious they are about fixing the problem.
Dropping the D-word extends the conflict and makes effective communication even more tricky. The threat makes the problem worse.
If you aren’t serious about leaving, you’re lying to your spouse and creating more unnecessary stress on the marriage because now your spouse feels insecure as well as upset about the original problem.
And he said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her. Mark 10:11
So don’t threaten your spouse with a very permanent answer to what could be a temporary problem. Instead, try taking a break and restarting the conversation when you feel more collected and less emotional.
Leading private lives
Unity doesn’t mean permanently attached at the hip. It’s okay to have other interests and need time to yourself, but you can’t live a large part of your life separate from your spouse.
What we need is balance. When you start spending more time away from your spouse, that distance begins to eat away at the bond between the two of you. You feel bored or dissatisfied.
Living parallel lives, or feeling like nothing but roommates, won’t happen overnight. It happens gradually. Most likely, you won’t even notice until the problem has become too big to solve yourselves.
If you and your spouse have grown overly independent, it’s time to revive your relationship. Start by establishing date nights and other times to connect. Also, try eliminating some of the unnecessary things that you don’t do together.
You may also want to read the book Married Roommates: How to Go From a Relationship That Just Survives to a Marriage That Thrives. by Talia Wagner. I’m sure you will identify with the couples whose stories are told in this book!
Making decisions on independently
Researchers believe that we make over 35,000 decisions every day. Most of these are minor such as what to have for lunch or which way to hang the roll of toilet paper, and really don’t require the input of your spouse (unless the toilet paper drama is a significant issue in your household🤣)
If one of you tends to make all or most of the decisions that affect both of you, that will affect your marriage unity. It will make the other person feel left out and unimportant.
Those decisions include how much money one can spend without consulting the other, raising children, who does what in the household, and where to go on vacation.
Always check with each other before making a big decision. Think in terms of we, and not me.
Talking badly about one another
If you are upset with your spouse, it is not healthy or useful for you to vent about them to someone else.
Quite the reverse. Complaining about your spouse to other people is inconsiderate, destructive, and reflects poorly on both of you. Your words will get back to them at some point. And when they hear about it, it will suck the life out of your relationship.
Work through your issues as a couple. Be adults, and don’t talk behind their back like you would have in junior high!
Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body. Proverbs 16:24
Instead of broadcasting all the ways your spouse is lacking, become fiercely loyal to them. Protect them from anyone’s negative words, including yours.
Neglecting your sex life
If yours is a sexless marriage, that is a cause for concern. If there are no underlying physical issues, the lack of intimacy can be a glaring indication of problems with your marriage’s unity.
If the wife refuses, the husband needs to examine himself and be honest about whether he is obedient to God’s command to love his wife in the same way Christ loves the church.
If the husband refuses sex, the wife needs to check her own behavior too. She is to love, respect, and submit to her husband. If these qualities are not in place, he could be feeling inferior or controlled by his wife, and he may refuse intimacy.
Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 1 Corinthians 7:5
Forgetting your biblical roles
God created men and women differently, and those differences are more than just physical. They are the result of different brain structures and chemical reactions.
These differences are 100% necessary in a successful marriage. The differences make us like two puzzle pieces that snuggly fit together and complete the picture.
A husband’s role in a Christian marriage is to lead, love, and sacrifice himself for his wife. Most men would probably say they would throw themselves in front of a bus to protect his wife, but are they willing to sacrifice their time by vacuuming or bathing the kids?
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. Ephesians 5:25
The wife’s role is to help her husband, show respect to him, and trust him enough to let him lead. Most men will not make decisions that they know will hurt their wives, so ladies, build marriage unity by submitting.
However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. Ephesians 5:33
Having unrealistic expectations
We all go into marriage with expectations of what it will be like. Having expectations is not a bad thing, but you have to be realistic.
In your mind, your expectations are reasonable, except that maybe they aren’t. Marriage is hard, especially at first, when you don’t know what it will really be like to live the day to day with the same person.
Having unrealistic expectations can shatter your marriage when your spouse begins to believe that they are never going to be able to live up to everything you presume about them. They will retreat and stop working on your marriage when they feel like they can’t do anything right anyway.
So, stop holding your spouse up to some lofty standard that few, if any, people in the world can achieve. Accept them as they are, and work together to identify expectations that could be affecting your marriage unity.
The final mistake people often make in the marriage that weakens your marriage unity is holding grudges.
When you hold grudges, you are hurting yourself much more than you are upsetting the other person. Trust me. I know the world champion grudge holder. Holding onto hurts that occurred decades ago affects all aspects of your health; mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual.
Grudges against your partner cause you to become anxious and depressed. You lose your enjoyment of life while you obsess over what your spouse did to you. You become the perpetual victim and lose trust in not only your spouse but others in your circle.
Marriage is hard enough sometimes without all those issues to deal with too. Jesus told us to forgive 70 times seven times because it is such an important message to understand.
Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven. Matthew 18:21-22
So talk to God about it. Talk to a counselor or coach. Just don’t let it fester because it will harm your relationship and leave you miserable.
Take action today!
Do any of these mistakes that destroy marriage unity sound familiar? Which one should you work on today?
We help couples like you who want to take their marriage from frustrating to fulfilling. If you are tired of feeling like roommates instead of a loving devoted married couple, we’d love to chat with you in a marriage breakthrough session. This session is a free 45 minute private call with one of us to help you see how you can make changes that will help you create the marriage you want to have!
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