A Cord of Three
By Brent Rinehart
“And if someone overpowers one person, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not easily broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:12).
You’ve probably heard somewhere that half of all marriages in the U.S. end in divorce. While that stat may have had some merit at one time, studies are finding that the divorce rate in our country has actually declined significantly in the past several years – 18% to be exact, between 2008 and 2016.
But, it’s not because we are getting better at marriage. It’s because many people – millennials, in particular – are holding off on getting married or choosing not to marry at all. Researchers can’t pinpoint the reasons behind these decisions, however one could surmise that a possible reason is a declining confidence in the institution as a whole. To prove that point, cohabitation among millennials is on the rise. Many young people are comfortable with a lesser commitment. Considering that the average marriage in the U.S. lasts about seven years, perhaps it’s hard to get excited about something with such a short-expected life span.
This is not just an outside-the-church issue. Many Christian marriages suffer the same fate. The reason is that it is easy for day-to-day life to cause us to lose sight of the one aspect of our marriage that can hold it all together – God Himself. Marriage shouldn’t just be between man and wife; it should include God, the one who designed marriage in the first place.
In Shaunti Feldhahn’s book, The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages, she shares that 53 percent of “Very Happy Couples” agree with the statement, "God is at the center of our marriage" (compared to 7 percent of Struggling Couples). She writes, "Highly happy couples tend to put God at the center of their marriage and focus on Him, rather than on their marriage or spouse, for fulfillment and happiness."
When marriages hit a snag, the most likely culprit is that one or both have shifted the focus away from God. It is easy to become consumed by our work, family drama, financial obligations and more. It is easy to focus on our problems and forget the Problem-Solver. We can even be consumed by seemingly good things, but missing out on the best thing. Our wedding ceremonies are packed with Scripture and prayer, but too many marriages don’t have room for either. We elevate so many other things in our lives, and allow them to take the place reserved for God and Him alone.
If we put God first in every aspect of our lives, He’ll take care of the rest. “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). If husband and wife are committed to following God’s will and seeking Him on a daily basis, they’ll naturally grow closer to each other.
C.S. Lewis offered this perspective: “When I have learned to love God better than my earthly dearest, I shall love my earthly dearest better than I do now.” We are better husbands and wives when we are better Christians.
Marriage takes work. Marriage takes prayer. Marriage takes God intervening and – through His Holy Spirit – shaping us into the people He wants us to be. The Bible says “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him” (James 1:5). We need wisdom to have a healthy marriage, and God wants to help us.
“A good marriage isn't something you find; it's something you make,” says author Gary Thomas. If you want to “make” your marriage work, God needs to be at the center. He’s the tie that binds it all, and a “cord of three is not easily broken.”
Brent Rinehart is a public relations practitioner and freelance writer. He blogs about the amazing things parenting teaches us about life, work, faith and more at www.apparentstuff.com. You can also follow him on Twitter.
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Originally published Friday, 03 December 2021.