As a coach who leads couples through premarital and marriage coaching, most of the programs are designed around understanding how individual personalities mesh and equipping with tools to navigate a long-term successful relationship. Evans (2012) brings a fresh perspective that starts with God, our relationship with Him, God’s design for marriage, and the adherence to laws that help couples sustain a thriving marriage over time.
Our Deepest Needs
Evans (2012) proposes that people have four basic needs that we consciously or not strive to satisfy. We feel fulfilled when we have:
- Acceptance: feeling that you are needed and loved by others
- Identity: knowing that you are special and significant
- Security: recognizing you are protected and provided for
- Purpose: understanding your reason for living
Non-Christians and many Christians as well look to personal accomplishments, family, friends, possessions, money, jobs, and pastors, to get these four needs met on a consistent basis. A significant subset put enormous pressure on their spouses and children to fulfill those deepest needs. The result? Grave disappointment. Why? Because no human, not even your spouse, can meet your deepest needs. With people suffering from some degree of selfishness, imperfection, and limited resources, they will naturally disappoint and at times hurt you.
What Happens When We Turn to God to Satisfy Our Needs
Only God can meet our deepest needs. When a couple releases unrealistic expectations of their spouse to fully meet his or her needs, both are then open to have these needs met by God. Spouses are then free to support the other in their individual Godly purposes as well as live out the mission of their marriage. The chance of divorce is minimized, because neither has the pressure of being the provider of their spouse’s acceptance, identity, security, and purpose.
God’s Four Laws of Marriage
Evans (2012) references 4 laws of marriage that God created. When we abide by these laws, marriages not only work, they thrive.
- Law of Priority: When a husband and wife leave their families and become “one flesh,” they put the other above every other earthly relationship. Their spouse comes before parents and their children. Time, energy, and resources are prioritized and protected for the spouse and the health of the marriage.
- Law of Pursuit: Like anything of value, marriage too is hard work. Spouses put forth intentional effort in pleasing their partner and investing in the marriage.
- Law of Possession: Because marriage is a complete union, everything is owned and managed jointly. Without this operating agreement, mistrust, jealousy, and reduced intimacy creep into the marriage.
- Law of Purity: When a couple is “one flesh,” nothing is withheld from the other. Every aspect of the body, soul, mind, and spirit should be shared without shame or fear. Marriage requires spouses to be totally open and vulnerable with each other.
Breaking any one of these foundational laws will cause turmoil within a marriage. Breaking two or more typically spells doom. This brokenness may not lead to court, but it may lead to separate bedrooms. Is a marriage held together solely by paper any better than divorce?
Where Do Most First Marriages Get Off Track
In my experience, first marriages unknowingly start to develop their first crack when they violate the Law of Pursuit. In an over-scheduled society and drive for success, couples tend to focus their energy on jobs, careers, and fun activities. This focus intensifies when children come along, and parents want to provide them with the best things and opportunities. Marriage takes a backseat to all the other demands for time, money, and energy, and spouses start to take each other for granted.
Where Do Most Second Marriages Go Wrong
When I coach couples, who are marrying and have biological children from previous relationships, they typically set their second marriage up for trouble prior to even saying their “I dos.” I find the Law of Possession is the most common struggle from the start, when they decide to keep some money separate and discipline of the child is reserved only by the biological parent. They’ve already designed division into their marriage.
What Should I do Before Saying “I do”
With an average divorce rate in America of ~ 50% and second marriages at ~ 70%, I would encourage everyone who is dating with the intention of marrying to pray, think about, and answer the following questions for themselves:
- Am I relying on God to get my deepest human needs met?
- Do I have reasonable expectations of my spouse and marriage?
- Am I willing to sacrifice and abide by God’s 4 laws of marriage?
If you can honestly live out a “yes” to these three questions, you will likely have a model, not perfect, marriage and find that others seek you out for marriage mentoring.
Evans, J. (2012). Marriage on the Rock: God’s Design for Your Dream Marriage. Dallas, TX: Marriage Today.
About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership and premarital/marriage coaching. She coaches individuals and couples as well as designs and facilitates workshops. She has a passion to help people be the best versions of themselves. You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at www.shinecrossingsministry.com.