The Most Important Issue in Marriage


When you have a problem, where do you go first? To a friend? To a family member? To Facebook or your credit card? Or do you take that difficulty and bring it to Jesus?

John 4 tells the story of when Jesus met the Samaritan woman at the well. Jesus was breaking a societal boundary, because He was a Jew and Jews were not supposed to talk to Samaritans. Men wouldn’t normally speak alone to women. And this woman was divorced five times and currently living with another man.

Which means she was an outcast on three sides, and yet Jesus still approached her. He treated her like a person. He asked her for a drink, then told her that, with God’s Living Water, she’d never be thirsty again. Jesus showed her compassion despite her failures in marriage.

None of us goes into marriage expecting to fail. We all want to succeed, but few of us have the skills. Jesus feels compassion for this woman who has failed at marriage and relationships, because compassion is in His nature and because He knows her failure came from ignorance. She just didn’t know.

Karen and I failed early in our marriage, too, and God was so compassionate with us. I want you to understand that, with struggling marriages, God doesn’t want to reject you any more than he wanted to reject the Samaritan woman or reject us. He wants to help. He wants to tell us how to succeed.

Jesus told the Samaritan woman that her problem with men was internal: she was drinking from the wrong well. She was turning to men to meet her needs when she should have been turning to God.

That was my problem, too, early in our marriage. As a young man, I didn’t know how to relate to Jesus like I should, so I depended too much on Karen. She depended too much on me. We had a dysfunctional marriage. We should have been depending on Jesus.

All of us wake up every morning needing acceptance, identity, security, and purpose. Those are our four basic needs, and either God will meet those needs for us or we’ll look to some other person to meet them.

The Samaritan woman tried to get a husband to meet those needs. But people can’t meet our needs. When people fail to meet our needs, it makes us cynical. We stop trusting people, which is why our country’s marriage rate keeps diminishing.

Often we turn to other things to meet our needs, but money can’t do it. Work, success, or pleasure can’t do it. We’re drinking from those empty, unfulfilling wells but we need Living Water. Only God can meet those needs.

My encouragement to you is to sit down in the presence of the Holy Spirit and ask for help. Examine your broken relationships. Examine the struggles in your marriage. Have these occurred because you tried to find fulfillment in the other person rather than God?

If so, give your struggles to Him. The most important issue in your marriage is your personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Period. Your life will be more profoundly affected by your relationship with Him than anything else. Get that right and the rest will fall into line.

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