he topic given to me by a church I visited recently was “a fulfilled marriage”, as I sat to study for the weekend, the first thing that came to my mind was, when two unhealthy individuals come into marriage, they’ll have an unhealthy relationship, however, when two healthy and fulfilled individuals come together in marriage then that marriage would not only be healthy but also fulfilled.
Institutions (marriage, church or government) never fulfill anyone, even though many seek their fulfillment in institutions, some marry thinking they’ll be happy, some go to church thinking the pastor is supposed to say things that make them happy (some pastors have taken on this impossible task as well) and many look to government for their fulfillment and sustenance. As long as any institution is run by unhealthy and unfulfilled people, that institution will be unhealthy and unfulfilled.
As tripartite beings (Human spirit, Soul-emotion/mind/will and Body), we are also healthy/unhealthy or fulfilled and unfulfilled in our three natures as well. We are healthy or fulfilled when our spirit is doing what it was created to do – which is to Worship and Glorify our Father in heaven (and this start with accepting His Son as Lord and Savior). We are healthy emotionally, when our source of Joy or self-worth (esteem) is not sourced in earthly things (wealth, title/positions, fame, etc.) but in our vertical relationship (with heaven) and when the Fruit of the Spirit (see Gal. 5: 22) is produce in and through us. We are fulfilled physically when we know our worth and do not define it by our looks or defiling our temple which is the abode of God (Holy Spirit) sexually. A healthy and fulfilled person operates with confidence not in his/her strength but based on who that is in him/her.
In my study, I discovered that there are voids (put in us by God our creator) in our tripartite beings. Spiritually – we are wired to worship, so the question is who are we worshipping, is it ourselves, other gods such as mammon, our success, other humans, our spouse or children, our environment, or are we Worshipping the True God. Emotionally – we are created to be validated, we all want validation of some form or at some level, we appreciate people telling us that what we have done is good, some crave it some simply appreciate it, if we crave validation from anything that is created rather than the creator, we’ll run into trouble. Physically – we are created to have sexual desires but well-informed as to the boundary of our sexual acts – “in the boundary of marriage – one man/one woman”, anything outside this boundary is defiling our body, the temple of God, the Holy Spirit.
So, a fulfilled or an healthy individual (person), is that person who worship God through Christ with his/her being, whose validation is sourced in God says he/she is not in material accumulation, fame or titles/positions and who knows to keep the temple of God Holy, in-spite of temptation. If you marry someone, who is missing one of these things that tells how healthy and fulfilled we are as Christians, then you might be marrying an unhealthy person, or if that’s you, you might be unhealthy.
Please note that being unhealthy or unfulfilled, does not equate accepting Christ as Lord and Savior, a person might be spiritually healthy but not emotionally and physically healthy or fulfilled, as we die to self and live for Christ within us (Sanctification), we gradually become healthy and fulfilled. Becoming healthy and/or fulfilled and making our marriage such is a process, that starts with the individual (separately, not coerced for marriage) accepting Christ as Savior and Lord.
To understand being spiritually healthy, a good study of Church history might be appropriate (I’ll recommend it). Historically, the Pharisees came out of the Judas Maccabeus revolution during the tyrannical reign of Epiphanus Anticus IV 200 years before the birth of Jesus, by the time of Jesus; they had left the teachings of God for the traditions of men (see Mark 7). When Emperor Constantine made Christianity the religion of the state, it forced the growth of Christianity and made it more a behemoth than something led by the Holy Spirit, typical of sinful humans, this behemoth became self-conceited, that God chose a man Dr. Martin Luther to rebel at a risk to his life, subsequently the Wesley brothers and many revolted. In essence many start with God, and soon become a behemoth that feeds itself, not led by God’s Spirit anymore.
In today’s Christianity, there are many behemoths (individuals, sects and denominations) that speak Christenese but are not born-again, therefore have no relationship with God through Christ. Those who teach and preach Liberal theology do not hide the fact that they don’t believe that the bible is fallible, and that it is merely a moral book among many other moral books through which humans can have access to God (hence their support for lousy ecumenical crap – like not praying in the name of Jesus). Many mainline denominations today are the shell of what the Holy Spirit did through them years ago, now they cling to traditions of men and the lies (political correctness) of this generation.
When I speak with singles, I tell them that because someone calls him/herself a Christian, speak Christenese does not make him/her a Christian, what makes us a Christian according to the Bible is being spiritually re-birth (see Romans 10:9-10) and the fruit of that evidenced in our character that bring glory to our Father in heaven (see Gal. 5: 22) – Let the Fruit speak, especially under pressure.
Human soul comprises our (free) will, our mind and our emotion, and all of these help shape us. Human emotion is very powerful and would often lead us to do things that are contrary to God’s design for us, John the Apostle once wrote that what gets us (humans) into trouble is “our lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh and the pride of life”. It was emotional that made Nebuchadnezzar declare himself god, which led to 7 years of living like an animal, it was lust that made David ask for Bathsheba after seeing her bath naked from his own house, it is pride of not dying to self that end most marriages, it is lust for wealth that is ruining most countries in our world, most leaders are richer than their country.
As a product of what we have been taught , we react emotionally to different things in interesting ways, a girl who witnessed are mother being physically abused and accepted it, might accept same from her husband or decide the first time he touches me – all hell will break loose, a son who was taught to treat his wife as a property would do same until he is convinced otherwise, a daughter who saw her mother hide things from dad, would hide things from her husband even though it might not be necessary. As a child born and raised in church, I rebelled against church being thrust down my throat (especially seeing hypocrites), until I knew Christ myself.
In marriage, we all come with lots of emotional baggage (even from a Christian home) or even physical scars that tells lots of stories. As many of you know, my daughter is adopted and as her dad now– I pray daily that God reveal to me what she has gone through (so I know how to react) to some of her emotional actions. Too often, whether we are raised by our biological parents or adopted, we bring a lot of pain or scars (spiritually, emotionally and physically) into marriage, hoping that the euphoria or emotional we are feeling during the “romantic love stage” would never end, but alas reality of life sets in, and the inevitable “negotiation stage” of marriage starts (Most Sociologists believe every marriage would go through three stages – Romantic love, Negotiation and Commitment stages).
It is important perhaps through pre-marriage counseling or education, that we learn what our baggage are (both nature and nurture), accept it/them and learn to deal with it, else we’ll project it on our spouse in marriage. If not dealt with or at least recognized, it makes the negotiation stage all more difficult and could end the marriage in (multiple) divorce. We do not go into marriage looking for our spouse to fill our validation void or make us happy, we go in knowing each other’s strengths and weaknesses, looking to transform ourselves individually while extending for God’s grace to deal with the weakness of our spouse.
Many children have physical scars they’ve brought into marriage. As I write this article there is a story making the rounds on social and mainline media of three daughters of the first wife, of the dead Saudi Arabia king (immediate past), who have been confined to the four walls of the palace for decades and are now in their forties (can anyone imagine the scar on those ladies?). Generations ago, many parent read the biblical teaching of “sparing the rod, spoiling the child”, but did not have an understanding of how best to apply it like we do today (thank God for Godly wisdom of men like Dr. James Dobson), so we have kids walking around with deep seated hatred for their parents, and unfortunately what they abhor is now happening between them and their own kids, sending negative heritage down the line.
Omaha Nebraska (my city) is home to many Sudanese immigrants (at one point, the estimate was 5000). I got involved with the community on two levels, first through my church and second, as a community person. I became friends with many Sudanese elders (relating to city authorities), marriage seminars for the pastoral leadership, and through church with the young adults. One thing I can share is that, it is a terrible thing, to be born and raised in "temporary" camp (where you see all sorts of crap), and not know what it is to have a real home environment (and then be re-settled in a western country). Many of them are starting to adjust however.
We all have experiences in our nurturing, many are at war with the church because of their spiritual experiences, many of our children are far away from Christianity because of the examples they saw growing up and I’m afraid that what many children are seeing today as Christianity is not Biblical Christianity. We have lots of emotional scars as well, and depending on personality we are reacting differently to the scars in our lives.
Marriage is not the place where those things would automatically heal, the euphoria of love (strong hormonal flow of early marriage) might overshadow it for a season, but then you’ll still have to deal with them later. It is best to have dealt with many of the unhealthy things in our lives before marriage, however, if not, at least we have a realization of our tendencies and are willing to work on it. So, to have a healthy and fulfilled marriage, look more inward (yourself) and upward (God), then your spouse, children and those you influence (knowingly and unknowingly) would benefit.