Three Reasons Why Marriages Fail (and what you can do about it)

I wrote an article many years ago titled, “Why Marriages Fail.” Perhaps you have read it. We put it in our literature holder near the entrance to our church’s parking lot. So far 1,330 booklets with this title and another booklet I wrote on love and marriage have been taken. It is also on the internet and receives about 100 hits or more every month. I presented the message in workshop form at the BASS Church Workers Conference in March. The room was packed with about 100 people, many of them having to sit on the floor. The company who recorded the BASS workshops and copied them onto CDs thanked me profusely, saying that it was one of the most ordered CDs of the entire conference. (I am thinking that we might want to create and host a marriage seminar with this title later this year and offer it to our neighborhood.)

Many people believe that the three biggest reasons why a marriage fails are: financial problems, sexual problems and in-law problems. I don’t believe this is true because these are all external issues. If it were true then most all marriages with these problems would fail. However, there are many, many marriages that struggle with these three problems and yet the couples are happily married. These circumstances don’t cause marriages to fail; they only create situations whereby the internal weakness in the marriage comes to the surface.

I believe there are three internal problems that cause marriages to fail:

  1. The basic self-centeredness of sin. Human beings are all contaminated by this problem God calls sin. Sins are always self-centered, self-focused and selfish. When sins and sinful attitudes dominate a relationship, that relationship is doomed to fail in many ways. Love is the opposite of sin. When Jesus lives inside of a person, and when that person is working to love like Jesus does, then those relationships can survive the fiercest circumstantial storms and thrive. We need Jesus in us to overcome the basic self-centeredness of sin with which we were all born. We need to do the things that allow God to transform us into His likeness if we want our marriage and all our relationships to become healthy, loving relationships.
  2. Failure to practice all aspects of God’s forgiveness. Since sins damage the human soul and thereby cause us to think wrongly and behave poorly, we need God’s inner healing which comes only as we practice forgiveness. God heals our souls when we confess our sins and receive His forgiveness, and when we effectively forgive the people who sin against us, and when we sincerely ask the people we’ve sinned against to forgive us. This means practicing forgiveness not only with our spouses, but with the people who sinned against us even before we met the person we married. If you want a healthy, strong marriage, then you must become an expert in practicing all aspects of God’s forgiveness.
  3. Ignorance or misunderstanding of the basic differences between men and women. In general, men and women think differently, value different things, communicate differently, experience love differently, etc. When a husband treats his wife as if she were a man, and when a wife treats her husband as if he were a woman, neither will feel loved, both will feel hurt and alone, and the marriage will suffer. The two books Men Are From Mars; Women Are From Venus and Love and Respect give us great insights into these differences.

Relationships fail because of internal problems, weaknesses, and vulnerabilities, not because of outside circumstances. Do the things that heal and strengthen you as a person and God will be able to heal and strengthen your marriage.

Steve Diehl

[reprinted from our April newsletter]