Scott LaPierre Ministries
Christian Marital Problems Are Really Symptoms
Our Christian marital "problems" are only symptoms. The actual problem is in our relationship with Christ. This is why all the prayers for marital problems should include praying for a stronger relationship with Christ. Read or listen to this chapter from Your Marriage God’s Way to find biblical advice for marriage problems.
Table of ContentsSubmission to Christ Improves MarriagesHandling Christian Marital ProblemsWhen a Wife Began Criticizing Her Husband While I Taught Embrace Christian Marital ProblemsAsk Difficult Questions and Expect Painful AnswersGod's Chastening Is Not Punishment, But a Father's Loving DisciplineLearning From Painful Seasons Caused by Christian Marital Problems
Because our relationships with our spouses reflect our relationships with Christ, our marriage “problems” are merely symptoms. The actual problems are in our relationships with Christ. The horizontal relationship with our spouse is suffering because there’s something wrong with the vertical relationship with Christ.
For instance, in my own marriage, the problem looked like I did not have enough time for my wife and children. But that was a symptom. Actually, the problem was that I would not listen to the Holy Spirit’s promptings to meet my family’s needs, and I was not trusting Christ enough. Instead, I let anxiety consume me.
Thus, the first place to address any symptoms—the things that appear to be problems between the husband and wife—is to look at each person’s relationship with the Lord. When I counsel couples and they share a problem they are experiencing, they become confused when I ask, “What does your time in God’s Word look like? How is your prayer life? Tell me about your involvement in the church.”
A wife might say, “I just told you that my husband yells at me. Why are you asking about his time in the Word?” Because the hope is that as a husband reads God’s Word he will be convicted of what he is doing wrong, repent, and become a more patient and loving man. I do not have the power to change a husband’s heart, and neither does a wife, or there would be no need for counseling. A husband can only become the man he should be by having a good relationship with Christ.
Likewise, a husband might respond, “I just told you about the ways my wife humiliates me in front of our friends. Why do you ask whether we are part of a small group study?” Because ongoing connections with other believers can provide accountability and require vulnerability and transparency. You can learn from other believers and be challenged by their examples. When you are not actively involved with others who are in the body of Christ, you will not receive the encouragement and exhortation God wants you to have. You will feel alone, as though you are the only people having these problems. You will not have anyone in your life through whom God can regularly speak to you. We are made to have fellowship with other believers. When we do not have it, that lack manifests itself in other areas, including our marriages.
Submission to Christ Improves Marriages
Here are two situations I have witnessed many times. A husband and wife are having Christian marital problems. They submit to Christ, and soon their marriage improves. Why? Did their difficulties simply disappear? No, those difficulties had been symptoms of the real problem—Christ was not supreme in their lives. When they put Christ first, their marriage improved.
Similarly, I have seen a couple plugged into church. The husband and wife pray and read the Word together. They are doing well spiritually, and their marriage is healthy. Then, for various reasons, they get distracted from the Lord and their priorities shift. They start wavering in church attendance and the spiritual disciplines. They fall out of fellowship. Soon their marriage suffers.
So remember: Christian marital problems are only symptoms—or negative consequences—of not having Christ as the focal point in the marital re...