“You know, honey, we really need to pay these bills.”  Elizabeth just couldn’t believe Tom could be so loose with their finances. “If only he’d handle our money the way my father did,” thought Elizabeth, “then I wouldn’t have to worry so much.”

Tom, on the other hand, had a general sense that most of the bills were paid.  “If only Elizabeth would stop being such a nag,” thought Tom.  “This really isn’t what I bargained for … does she really think I need her personal coaching?”

As marriage counselors, we often hear, “I’ll be happy if only my spouse will….”  Yet, our experience indicates that when one spouse focuses on the other’s performance, it usually leads to the destruction of the relationship.

A Wrong View of Marriage

When coming together in marriage, husbands and wives usually develop their own natural, human plan for marital happiness. The couple’s separate plans are based on the unique personalities and personal differences of each partner, including different family influences, role models, books, and often-different church experiences. Because their plans for marriage happiness are different, conflict usually results.

Since each of us is self-centered, we constantly want to know what our spouse has done for us lately. Sadly, as time passes, we subconsciously revert to the “greener pasture syndrome” where we begin to compare our spouse’s performance with our own pre-conceived ideas and expectations, making satisfaction with our spouse more and more elusive.

Six Factors That Destroy Marriages

Following are the six primary factors that destroy marriages. They are commonly found in natural, human relationships:

  1. Couples fail to anticipate differences resulting from diverse cultural backgrounds, differing family experiences, gender, and so on.

  2. Couples buy into the notion of a “fifty-fifty” relationship, meaning they honestly expect their spouses to meet them halfway.

  3. Society has taught us that mankind is basically good. Therefore, couples fail to anticipate their self-centered natures that demand their own way.

  4. Couples fail to cope with life’s trials. When painful trials come into the marriage, instead of standing together through them, couples tend to blame each other or think something is wrong with the spouse and the way they handle the pain.

  5. Many people have a fantasy view of love. They quickly feel stuck with an unloving person and become deceived into believing that the next one will be better.

  6. Many people lack a vital relationship with Jesus Christ. It could be that they have never come to a specific point in time when they asked Christ into their lives and therefore He has no impact on the marriage relationship.

God’s Solution – The Faith Relationship

The faith relationship is opposite of the performance relationship in two significant ways. First, it is not natural at all – it is supernatural. You will only learn about this kind of relationship from God through His Word. Second, the faith relationship does not focus on the human performance of one’s spouse but on God’s character, promises, and faithfulness.

This kind of relationship involves God as the Guarantor of the marriage with the specifics of the guarantee found in Scripture. It's long-term hope based on God’s character and faithfulness. We know He is good and loves us. His guidance that led us to marry a certain person becomes more important than the initial human attraction that brought us together.  You begin to focus more on Him and His Word, rather than your spouse and his or her failure to perform to your expectations.