Statistics show a total of 26,254 marriages registered in Singapore during 2013. But the total number of marital dissolutions rose four per cent — from 7,237 in 2012 to 7,525 in 2013.
Here are some suggested helps for a healthy, God-centred marital life, in the midst of the mounting challenges facing many marriages. Nothing is impossible with God, but we must do our part too.
1. God’s blue-print for a successful marriage includes the headship of the husband and the submission of husband and wife to the Lord (Colossians 3:18-19).
2. The husband has the privilege and responsibility of loving his wife and being faithful to her (Ephesians 5:22-25).
3. A Christian family requires the understanding and sorting out of our respective biblical roles and responsibilities in marriage and home.
4. The man is to be the loving leader, accountable for major decisions in the family before the Lord, but in partnership with his wife.
5. While the husband is the head of the house, the wife is the heart of the home, and is responsible for supporting her husband in his duties.
6. Do not take each other for granted. Express appreciation to your spouse frequently and show chivalry, tenderness, respect and courtesy, along with words of affection, encouragement, succour and strength.
7. No two persons can effectively walk together or live together for long, unless they agree in principle (Amos 3:3).
8. One of the basic requirements of good effective communication is mutual openness, honesty and transparency. Honesty is still the best policy.
9. Each spouse must first have a foundationally sound and intimate relationship with the Lord. Marriage normally falls apart when one (or both) falls away from the Lord.
10. Good communication requires self-control, self-discipline, a charitable spirit and the appropriate choices of words and non-verbal body actions.
11. Good communication requires sincere and open conversation, and careful, attentive and interested listening.
12. Good listening involves letting a person speak without interruption, and seeking to understand what the other person is trying to convey.
13. Refrain from having a re-run of old arguments and bygone conflicts. Deal in the present and future in the will of God, not in the past (Ephesians 4:32).
14. Never shout at each other unless the house is on fire! Remember that ‘anger’ is one letter short of ‘danger’! Shouting is a lazy man’s way of trying to be emphatic (Colossians 4:6).
15. Resolve all conflicts by the end of the day. Remember, if you don’t and you go to bed in anger, you have the devil for a strange bedfellow (Ephesians 4:26-27). Be willing to repent and say sorry where necessary.
16. Practise the golden rule of Matthew 7:12: do unto your spouse what you want your spouse to do to/for you.
17. Learn to say: ‘Thank you’; ‘I’m sorry, I don’t mean it’; ‘I appreciate it’; ‘Excuse me’ — and mean what you say. Believe me, it will save you from unnecessary troubles (Colossians 4:6).16. Practise the golden rule of Matthew 7:12: do unto your spouse what you want your spouse to do to/for you.
18. Remember the closer you get to Christ, the closer you are to each other (Malachi 2:14).
19. Have a forgiving and magnanimous spirit (Ephesians 4:32). Allow room for mistakes, and be ready to forgive and be reconciled. Don’t be a touchy person, difficult to placate (James 3:17).
20. A couple that prays together stays together (2 Corinthians 1:11). Start the morning right with the Word of God and prayer (Psalm 5:3). Get in tune with God before the concert of the day begins (Daniel 6:10). Never forget or forsake prayer and daily devotion.
21. Have a good circle of Christian friends (1 Corinthians 15:33), and serve the Lord together in the local church. Do not be isolated from the Christian community (Hebrews 10:24-25). Never miss Sabbath worship and edifying Christian fellowship.
22. If you are married, thank God for your spouse, given in the Lord and not to be taken for granted. Take a moment to pray for and appreciate them in the Lord, for, in the uncertainty of life, our time together on earth may not be as long as we expect (Psalm 90:12, Ephesians 5:15-16).
Dr Jack Sin is pastor of Maranatha Bible-Presbyterian Church, Singapore, and a lecturer for the Emmanuel Reformed Bible