Why is it that couples who once had a great dating relationship, get married and struggle repeatedly for long periods of time? I did not say that couples struggled in their dating relationship. I truly mean couples who had a lot of good times together. They had good communication, supported each other through difficult times, and spent a lot of time together. They get married and begin to struggle after a period. This is a problem that is repeated.

Some say that over a period, character weakness become more evident, people change, financial difficulties create stress, differences of opinions become more obvious in the raising of children, etc. The issues that resulted from solving these problems and the like sometimes create such differences, a couple end up growing apart. Even though most of this seems true it is not the complete reason for couples growing apart.

When a couple dated and had a good relationship that was truly productive it was because they established key pillars that are significant to a relationship. Communication, which is established because the individuals in the relationship listened well and gave each other respect when there were differences. They developed good problem-solving skills because they worked hard to get a long since they wanted the relationship. They spent a lot of time together giving much consideration to each other’s needs. When there were differences, they showed respect and gave each other the freedom to be different. Men would patiently go shopping and women, who do not like sports, would patiently sit with their boyfriend and watch sports with him or allow him to watch it with his friends. These characteristics are just as necessary in a marriage and must be practiced in a marriage.

Another reason is since couples forget that marriage is designed by God (Genesis 2:15-25) and must take on the principles that God instituted. God never said that marriage brings joy but He did say that spiritual growth brings “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, … self control…” (Galatians 5:22-23)  This is why God gave instructions for the man to wash his wife with the Word, instruct both individuals to come to church, commit to being disciples of Christ (not just a church attendee), and serve in the church so that everyone grows up into the fullness of Christ (Ephesians 4:12-13). This is crucial because marriage requires both individuals to mature to Christ and the church (Ephesians 5:32), because when both individuals are full of the Holy Spirit they get along well (Ephesians 5:21; Philippians 2:1-5), and God provides them guidelines for problem solving. Another reason they get along better is because they renew their mind to the same Word, they are controlled by the same Spirit and become the same as Christ (Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 4:1-7). So, when a man leads, he takes on the characteristics of Christ (1 Corinthians 11:3), and when a woman lives before her husband, she displays the attitude of Christ (Philippians 2:1-11; 1 Peter 3:1-7). As a result, instead of a couple, over a period, growing apart, they grow closer together.

When marriage is more about what each person desires rather than a spiritually developing process, it becomes distant rather than cohesive. Instead of a couple growing spiritually they become fleshlier; to become fleshlier is to grow apart (Galatians 5:16-21). To trust God no matter how vulnerable it makes a person is to experience the powerful presence of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit builds unity and blesses the home (Psalm 127-128; Proverbs 24:3-6).