Ingredients of good marriage: What couples should do to sustain bliss
• ‘Women Should Submit To Their Husbands Not Because They Are Perfect, But As Honour To God’
• ‘Trust And Transparency Is One Major Area Of Contention In Most Marriages’
• ‘Couples Have Redefined Love To Suit Themselves’
• ‘Avoid The Delusion That There Is A ‘Perfect Marriage’
In His love, God instituted marriage for the good of mankind. The act is meant to bring love, joy, companionship and fulfilment to the parties involved. It was also supposed to be an everlasting affair. But for decades now, majority of marriages have been serving the very opposite of what was ordained, resulting in frustration, disappointment, depression, sadness, anger, bitterness and even death in some cases. Since God is eternally perfect in His ways, it could be safely inferred that the fault for all these marital problems lies with man. So, what are the ingredients of a good marriage and how can it be sustained? CHRIS IREKAMBA reports.
‘Marriage Is A Means Of Fostering Peace Of Mind’
(Professor Dawud O. S. Noibi, Executive Secretary/CEO Muslim Ummah of South West Nigeria (MUSWEN)
ALLAH, Who ordained marriage (Qur’an, 4:1-4) designed it as a means of attaining and fostering Peace of Mind, Mutual Love and Mutual Compassion (Qur’an, 30:21), all of which, obviously, shall be to the benefit of the couple and, by extension, that of their offspring, as well.
Toward the attainment of these lofty goals of marriage, Allah has laid down guidelines for the responsibilities and rights of each of the couple (Qur’an, 4:34, 35). In the fulfilment of these responsibilities by the husband and the wife respectively, lies the attainment of sustainable peace of mind, mutual love and compassion. That is more so, because the responsibilities of one of the couple correspond to the rights of the other.
Each of them is assigned duties that accord with the extent and limit of his or her natural ability and gifts, as male or female. Thus, the husband shall maintain his wife in all respects materially, spiritually and emotionally, within the limits of his ability. Conversely, the wife shall reciprocate and shall look after their matrimonial home and their children to the best of her ability.
The best husbands are those that are best behaved to their wives, courtesy of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), who was the best role model in this regard. On the other hand, a righteous wife, who recognises her husband as leader of the family in every sense of the word, is assured of entry to Paradise. The ideal relationship of husband and wife is depicted in the following divine statement addressed to husbands: “They (your wives) are garments for you and you are garments for them” (Qur’an, 2:187). Anyone who appreciates the preciousness of a garment and its value to the body would do every thing worthwhile to create and maintain the best of relations with his wife or husband.
And if he or she sees doing so as one of the ways of carrying out “the will of God on earth,” then let him or her be rest assured that he or she will reap the pleasant rewards in Paradise, besides living a happy family life in this world.
‘Couples That Conceal Things From Each Other Will Live In Suspicion’
(Most Rev. Emmanuel A.S. Egbunu, Bishop of Lokoja Diocese/Archbishop of Lokoja Province, Kogi State, Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion)
THE idea of a good marriage is relative, depending on the values of those concerned. My contribution here has a Christian marriage in view. By a good marriage, I am also assuming that we are looking at a happy marriage. There are people who talk about perfect marriages, but I think they are in the best position to define this.
From the Christian point of view, a good marriage must take its root in God’s purpose for creating the marriage institution, as stated in Genesis 2:18, “Then the Lord God said, It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him. The person who needs a helper is someone who has an assignment. Every life has a divine purpose and assignment built into it, and any man or woman who decides to marry must bear this in mind as the primary reason for marriage. Many people have gone into marriage for the wrong reasons: I am madly in love; this person has what I want to own; everyone says we will make a good match; my parents say this is the kind of man or lady I want as a dad or mum for my children… Good as these reasons may appear, they will fall apart, if not rooted in God’s purpose and pleasure. A good marriage must have purposeful companionship and godly partnership as a strong basis. The couple must see each other as God’s treasured gift to be cherished and acknowledged, as the one who makes the other person complete and fulfilled. “This is flesh of my flesh, bone of my bones” This awareness pulls them through thick and thin together. We see Aquila and Priscilla in the Bible.
Trust and transparency is one major area of contention in most marriages. How much can one disclose to his spouse? Some think that transparency is suicidal, and they will quote instances to justify their position. Yet in the same passage about the institution of marriage, we read that “the man and his wife were both naked, but they felt no shame” (Genesis 2:25). Nakedness symbolises transparency and is the path to fruitfulness and loving companionship. Couples who conceal things from each other will live in suspicion, which further breeds all kinds of dangerous tendencies. Good communication is critical to a happy marriage. Because the couples are different individuals raised from different backgrounds, they need to learn how to communicate and understand each other. This takes time. They must learn to use words of appreciation, reassurance, healing, and hope. They must learn to bury the hatchet and move one.
Jesus must be the Lord of the Christian home. When the marriage relationship recognises God’s place, His Word and His ways, many other things will fall into place. I should also add that a good marriage produces godly and well-trained children, who model right values in society (Proverbs 22:6). In this way, a good marriage begets good marriages, if the children are taught the criteria for good choices in life.
‘Marriage Is For Companionship, Help And Partnership’
(Bishop (Mrs.) Bola Oyegbami, National President, Minister of God Prayer Network Int’l (MGPNI)
MARRIAGE is a divine institution, because it has its foundation in God. If the ingredients or constituents of good marriage are not known, the abuse of marriage is inevitable. The ingredients of good marriage can be got from the glimpse of the purpose of marriage, which is for companionship, help and partnership, according to Genesis 2:18.
In the book of Genesis 2:21-22, God brought the woman to the man. You have to make God the centrepiece of the marriage. Ingredients of a good marriage are the constituents or part mixture of the marriage, can be found in the book of Gal 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law”.
Genesis 2:18 “And the Lord God said, it is not good that the man should be alone, I will make a helpmeet for him”. Jesus Christ has emphasised that there should be no separation in marriage, so as a redeemed of Christ, learn to exercise patience and control, and pray to sustain the marriage. (Mark 10:2-9, 1 Cor: 7-9).To sustain a marriage, there must be love expression, as where there is none, the relationship gets worse. The wife is unable to fulfil her obligation to her husband and neither is the husband ready to show his wife true love and how much he loves her. “Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time … so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control” 1 Cor 7:5. To sustain marriage, there must be Christian love and submission to one another, in the fear of God. “Wives submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord, Husbands love your wives”. Ephesians 5: 21, 22, 25, 28, 33.
To sustain marriage, you should know your enemy as Satan and how to defeat him. Couples must understand the aspect of spiritual warfare, (Matt 21:22, Matt: 17:21).
Sustaining a marriage needs management and nurturing, for proper growth. It is also understanding and learning the ethics of the association called marriage.
Avoid the delusion that there is a ‘perfect marriage’. Stop bad languages: “A soft answer turneth away wrath, but grievous words stir anger”. (Prov. 15:1). Stop nagging: Proverb 21:9. Avoid being unfaithful, the man or woman that keeps sexual partners outside the marital home is unfaithful. The Bible calls it adultery. Sexual denial is a very bad and dangerous tool; it must be frankly discussed by the couple. Cor. 7:4-5 says that, “The wife hath not power of her own body but the husband and likewise also the husband … that Satan tempt you not for your inconsistency.”
A man is not supposed to take his wife for granted and vice versa. “So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies…but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church”, Eph. 5:28-29.The man should help out with some of the work to ease the tension of the woman. Occasionally, you can show your appreciation by buying her gifts or taking her out to make her happy.There must not be disrespect for in-laws. Avoid the spirit of poverty. Avoid misplaced attention on the children at the expense of your spouse. Finally, learn to safeguard your home from every assault.
‘Forgiveness In Marriage Is Very
(Pastor Mike Onyeka, Senior Pastor/Vision Bearer of Victorious People Assembly Intl Inc. (House of Praise), Aba, Abia State)
THE first very important thing to remember about marriage is that it is God’s product. It was God that created the first man, looked at how lonely he was, even though he could not identify the need, and declared “it is not good for the man to be alone, I will make him a helper suitable for him” (Genesis 2:18). Every manufacturer produces a manual that specifies how the product should be used, if the owner desires to enjoy it and if the product must last. God, the manufacturer of marriage, also produced the Bible as the Manual for running it, and every couple desiring to enjoy and preserve their marriage must play by the rules of Scripture.
Marriage is not a cultural thing. It is older than every known human community. So, wherever the dictates of culture and custom conflict with the Scriptures, God’s rules must be followed. The Bible said: “blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly…but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither, and whatever he does shall prosper” (Psalms 1:1-3). So, not even your parents or friends’ advice should be listened to, if they are ungodly.
Bible’s prescription for a successful marriage begins even before marriage. First, if you want your marriage to work, you must receive Jesus and be saved, so that you can possess a recreated spirit that can accept God’s word and be able to apply it. Secondly, you must not marry an unbeliever, for two cannot work together except they agree. When a believer marries an unbeliever, from the word go, they cannot agree spiritually. It will be almost impossible for them to work together. It is not a question of being a good man or woman. It is just that you have broken the first law of the manufacturer: “do not become unevenly yoked with unbelievers” (1 Corinthians 6:14). The natural consequence will include disagreement over a number of issues. Your social support system, which is important in times of challenges, will not be the same and may even clash. The principal of them is to forgive each other to the same extent that God forgives us, without limits and unconditionally. God also told the men to treat their wives as weaker vessels, which in some cases will mean overlooking certain matters the way you will accommodate your little girl. God has promised to honour those that honour Him. The most guaranteed way to make one’s marriage work is to honour God in your marriage.
‘Friendship Is Most Important
Ingredient In Marriage’
(Rev. Yomi Kasali, Senior Pastor, Foundation of Truth Assembly, Lagos)
THIS is a very interesting topic in these days of diverse positions on marriage and happiness. The oldest institution on earth has been at risk for the last three decades, with the emergence of our newfound liberties based on Western definitions of happiness. Marriage, as an institution, is the oldest institution on earth without any prejudice and also serves as divine plan for procreation in the world. The concept of a man coming together with a woman to sign a contract to live together till death do them both part is what we call marriage, though many countries are attempting changing this concept and expanding the scope to contain same genders and even animals. But common sense has resisted this new idea over time and is still resisting it.
The contract between a man and his wife in marriage is emotional in nature; hence the ingredients to determine the success of that contract must be the same. Many people marry for wrong reasons and find out that it crashes, even before they begin. Some enter into this contract for financial benefits, some for career purposes and others for pro-creational purposes alone, without affection for the other party. These are not good reasons to enter into marriage.
Having been married for 21 years, I strongly consider myself ‘happily married.’ I will share my thoughts on what births success and happiness in marriage. The following are my strong opinions on the ingredients to successful marriage:
First, I often tell people that friendship is the most important ingredient of a successful marriage on earth. Couples who are close and are friends always find happiness in the marriage. While so many marry and thereafter try to become friends with their spouses, they may strike gold in their trial, but the chances are more that they will not after wedding. My wife and I are true friends and this is the singular most important ingredient to a happy marriage.
The law of attraction usually works on both spouses before they marry, but it should also be nurtured after wedding. Both the man and his wife should consciously work at being attracted to each other and in a state of being wooed always. So many Christian women abandon looking good after marriage, thinking there may be no reason for beauty anymore, after all their husbands won’t cheat on them. As true as that may be, the man won’t be attracted to them, as well. Women should ensure they work on themselves without necessarily being too flashy or overdo things.
Also, giving one another full attention in marriage is very critical to a healthy marriage. Indeed, one of the signs of a failed marriage is lack of attention from one of the spouses, which then degenerates into cracks in the marriage. Paying attention is giving due importance to one’s spouse during conversations (where the man loses the woman more than the reverse), appreciations (where the woman expects commendations after serving you a delicious meal and it hardly comes), commendations (remarks that work like magic: Thank You, I Love You, You Look Good, That Was Thoughtful of You, etc.), and many more.
There is a passage in the Bible that tells us to forgive and forbear with one another (Eph. 4:2; Col 3:13). The word ‘forbear’ means to ‘live with someone’s weaknesses’, and this is where many perfectionist spouses kill the love in their marriages. We all need to know how to forgive, when others or our spouses hurt us, but more importantly to forbear with them in their inadequacies. This is what I call turning the blind eye to their faults sometimes and what an author calls ‘don’t sweat the small stuff’. So many hearts are bruised, when loved ones speak only of their mistakes and faults without love. I hope that will change, for this is one of the most valuable virtues in marriage.
The fifth, which is prayer, may not be on the list of many, who have been happily married, but certainly in mine because of the power of praying together in truth. Over the years, my wife and I have learnt to pray together and our prayer points aren’t about making money or building houses, but more about asking God to help us both to continue to love and care for each other. This is a very virtuous thing to do and most couples that have spent decades together have cultivated their marriages on the soil of prayers, not selfish but selfless communion with God about their spouses.
The sixth is the authority figure, which has been the most unappreciated ingredient in most successful and happy marriages. Everyone must have an authority figure over their lives, else, when the couples get to a point in their marriage that they are both at logger heads on issues arising, they won’t have someone to run to for counselling and direction. This is not the third party involvement that most preachers talk about, which don’t usually carry authorities, but someone both of them respect and won’t dare disobey. It shows a lot about maturity and humility on the part of the couples that submit willingly to others to help them out, when they get to such crossroads in their lives. To ignore such is to play god over your lives and ‘know it all’ attitude, which is dangerous in life.
‘One Major Ingredient In A Good Marriage Is Genuine Love’
(Rev. (Dr.) Jane Onaolapo, General Overseer, Abundant Life Gospel Church, Agege, Lagos)
I WANT to talk about the marriage between a man and a woman and no other type. Just like good soup is made up of certain basic ingredients, so is a good marriage. One major ingredient in a good marriage is genuine love. Unfortunately, as important as love is, it has become mostly misunderstood and misapplied by couples. Many have redefined love to suit themselves. Genuine Love is a very strong or intense feeling of tender affection and compassion towards another person. God is a true example of this genuine love. He showed us the greatest love mankind could never have imagined. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.”
This is true and genuine love. Genuine love is one that is concerned about the good and welfare of the other party, and is willing to sacrifice the most valuable thing for that person. This is a major ingredient and it is inevitable, if any marriage must work out.There are three characteristics of genuine love. One, genuine love is a decision. It is neither about beauty nor money, but is a decision that comes from one’s heart to another, irrespective of beauty, money, power, etc. If you choose to love your spouse, you make that decision, irrespective of what you may get in return. The Bible says that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. He loved us, even when we had not known and accepted Him as our Lord. He loved us just the way we were. So should it be between spouses. Two, genuine love is irreversible.
“…For love is strong as death…Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it: if a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would utterly be condemned” – SOS 8:6-7. “Genuine love is unrelenting as the grave” (Msg version). Genuine love is as irreversible as death. You cannot profess to love someone and later turn around to hate him.
Three, genuine love is forgiving. It makes up for all offences. It does not see faults, but overlooks all wrongs and explains things away for the spouse without complaints. That is why I Cor. 13:7 says, “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” Two people cannot walk together, except they agree to live with each other in genuine love.
However, Proverbs 24:3-4 is the secret to sustaining a good marriage: “Through wisdom is an house builded; and by understanding it is established: And by knowledge shall the chambers be filled with all precious and pleasant riches.” For a good marriage to be built, established and furnished with real enjoyment, wisdom, understanding and knowledge are the keys.All these come from God. He has promised that if we ask, He would give them to us (James 1:5). The institution of marriage is God’s idea and not man’s. So, it is only God, Who has all it takes to make it good. For this reason, everyone in marriage should always go to Him for help, guidance and protection. I enjoyed a good marriage for 27 years before my husband passed on. From experience, I know that these and other ingredients found in the Scriptures will certainly make and sustain a good marriage.
‘Women Need Love, Appreciation And Good Treatment’
(Imam Morufu Onike Abdul-Azeez, Deputy Chief Missionary, Nasfat World Headquarters, Lagos, Nigeria)
ONE of the objectives of Shariah i.e. Divine plan for man is the protection of family. This is in recognition of the fact that the family unit is the bedrock of any society. However, a family is not recognised by Islam, except it was brought about by legal marriage. Simply put, legal marriage leads to good family and good family leads to a stable society.
Our noble Prophet Muhammad (may the peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) said: “Marriage is part of my Sunnah, and whoever does not follow my Sunnah has nothing to do with me…” He also said, “This world is but provisions, and there is no provision in this world better than a righteous wife.”Similarly, the essence of marriage in Islam is summed up in the holy Qur’an, Chapter 30 verse 21, where Allah says “Another of His signs is that He created spouses from among yourselves for you to live with in tranquility: He ordained love and kindness between you. There truly are signs in this for those who reflect (30:21).
As it can be seen from the above qur’anic verse and prophetic traditions, marriage is supposed to be a huge part of our lives and religion, a source of emotional comfort to us. It allows us to experience love, mercy, understanding and peace from someone, who is a companion for life. The question now is: why are so many people dissatisfied with this all-important institution?
The answers are numerous, but the key among them is to understand the nature of man and woman. The Almighty Allah creates men and women differently; the male is different from the female in many ways— in strength, body, toughness and roughness, whereas women are soft and gentle. (Q3: 36) “The male is not like the female.”(In this particular consideration, a female cannot fulfil the tasks for which the male is better suited)
According to John Gray, the author of the book, Men are from Mars Women are from Venus, “men mistakenly expect women to think, communicate, and react the way men do, while women mistakenly expect men to feel, communicate, and respond the way women do.” We have forgotten that men and women are supposed to be different. As a result, our relationships are filled with unnecessary frictions and conflicts.
Even though generally speaking, we are all emotional, but a particular sex is more emotional than the other. In his efforts at answering the question, Sheima Salam Summer, the owner of Productive Muslim website, states that most of our marriages lack emotional understanding, usually referred to as empathy. This is the ability to recognise, understand and share the feelings of others like walking in someone else’s shoes, and as it relates to marriage, it means the act of feeling your spouse’s emotion (joining emotionally with him or her, as if “walking in his or her shoes”). The holy Prophet reportedly said: “The believers in their mutual kindness, compassion and sympathy are just like one body. When one of the limbs suffers, the whole body responds to it with wakefulness and fever.” (Bukhari)
In his submission, Mega Wyatt, the life coach and founder of wivesofjannah.com was said to have taught that marriages face infidelity problems due to lack of emotional connection.In most cases, we tend to confuse empathy with advice or offer of solution to our spouses’ problems, but this is far from it. Your spouse is having issues only because he/she wants someone to relate to him//her, therefore, we need to validate and recognise our spouses’ feelings.
A story narrated by Salmer aptly demonstrates the meaning of empathy. He says: “A friend of mine had been feeling resentful towards her husband because he never showed any caring or understanding, when she talked to him about the pain of her father’s death, when she was a child. Finally, she told him how upset she felt about his lack of empathy for her loss. Eventually, her husband validated her feelings by visiting her father’s grave with her, which transformed her resentment into love. “What a husband, who fails an examination needs, is not a statement like: “Why won’t you fail? Was it not football matches you have been watching in recent times?” “Or why won’t that business fail, when you don’t have the required skills?” A statement like: “I understand that you feel hurt right now,” would have calmed his nerves.
It has been said several times that open communication is the cornerstone of a healthy marriage. Marriage therapists have, however, made us believe that communication is not enough, and that what any marriage needs to thrive is emotional understanding, or empathy.
While corroborating the submission on the essence of empathy, Abu Ibrahim listed seven things, each as a result of his research on what women cannot tell their husbands and what husbands don’t usually tell their wives, but are causing tension in marriages.He says women need love, appreciation, good treatment (they feel bored at times), compliments, need to be made better muslimah, insanely jealous (hate being compared to others), do not like nagging, but some men make it hard for them and above all wants a stable relationship. On Men’s part, they want respect from their wives, empathy (want his feeling shared), sex, “naturally polygamous”, want to make their wives happy, want to be nudged to be better Muslims and above all love their wives, even if they don’t show it.In conclusion, lack of love, infidelity, quest for materialism, family interference, lack of trust, etc., are known to be causes of separation and divorce in most marriages.