The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery. His disciples say unto him, If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry.
Jesus points to what is at the root of separation and divorce– a hard heart.
He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.
It is the hardness of hearts that’s leads to divorce.
And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth: But when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away.
If the heart is hard, it will not receive what is being sown into it.
Hebrews 3:8, 3:15, 4:7– all warn us not to live with a hard heart.
But now, O Lord, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.
Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?
We are described as clay. You can’t work with clay that is hard and not moldable. When two become one, God is molding them into one. That means each must have a soft heart.
The enemy uses offense (unmet expectations) to harden hearts. We must be vigilant about not allowing offense into our hearts– especially in marriage. The tighter the relationship, the greater the expectation… thus, the greater opportunity for offense.
One of the most critical traits for a successful marriage is adaptability.
Adaptability – Able to change, or be changed, in order to fit or work better in some situation or for some purpose.
Two can’t come together as one if they aren’t adaptable. Success in life is based on the ability to adapt to the season that you are in.
The quality of your life can never go beyond the quality of your relationships.
Don’t let the wrong thing motivate you into marriage. Don’t make the permanent decision based off something temporary, like looks.
In marriage, there has to be adaptability. Ask yourself, “How adaptable am I? How willing am I to change? Have I allowed my heart to get hard?”
Do not allow offense to take root into your marriage. It will destroy it.
God created the man and the woman to each have needs. They are different.
Be sensitive to the fact that your spouse has needs. When you focus on meeting your spouse’s needs, that frees them up to meet yours.
Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.
Unmet needs will affect and influence behavior.
Another critical trait to possess in marriage is empathy. Because marriage is a needs-based relationship, empathy is critical.
Empathy – The ability to share someone else’s feelings
If you don’t have empathy, you cannot relate to what someone else is going through.
Have a desire to meet the needs of your spouse, because you don’t want them to be susceptible to the mental warfare of wondering how they will get their needs met. Don’t leave that door open for the enemy.
Your needs control your behavior. We behave differently when our needs are met.
When you meet the needs of your spouse, you have liberated their mind to think about how they are going to meet your needs.
God has placed the responsibility of initiating this on the man.
Husbands, love your wives, even 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, So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:
Four separate times in Ephesians, God commands the husband to love the wife. As the head, the husband bears the responsibility to initiate for the well-being of his wife and family.
Empathy means being sensitive to the needs of your spouse. The moment you are not sensitive to you spouse’s needs, you are not being empathetic.
Try to meet your spouses needs as if they were your own.
Selfish people don’t have successful relationships.
It is possible to put unrealistic expectations on your spouse. “He/she just doesn’t make me happy anymore…” is an unrealistic expectation. Your spouse cannot make you happy, and you shouldn’t put that burden on them.
All humans need acceptance, identity, security and purpose. Those things are found in Jesus.