Summary: Malachi 2:13-16 outlines three dimensions of marriage: physical, emotional, and spiritual. Learn three “Ds” to help develop a healthy marriage for today’s world.
How to Build a 3-D Marriage
by David O. Dykes
At one time the “typical” family consisted of a husband who worked, a wife who was a full-time mom and two kids. Is that kind of family becoming an endangered species? Some reports seem to indicate it is true. The results of the 2000 Census revealed that about four out of ten American families with children under the age of 18 are single parent families. (compared to 13% of families in 1970) Six out of ten children under the age of 18 at one point will live in a single-parent family; this is the age of the absentee or part-time dad, because single moms head nine out of ten single-parent families.
In spite of some of these reports, I am optimistic about the future of the family. Not too many years ago, the buffalo, whooping crane, and the humpback whale were on the endangered species list; today they are thriving. I think the Family is on the verge of making a comeback. I read an article this week in USA Today that said since 9/11 more people in America are realizing the importance of their families. Most family studies over the past 25 years have focused on family problems by analyzing dysfunctional families. Only a few studies have been conducted to determine what factors contribute to produce healthy families.
Dr. Nick Stinnett, Chairman of the Department of Human Development and Family at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln undertook such a study several years ago. He interviewed 3,000 strong families: single parent families, black families, white families, and ethnic families. The only criterion was that each of these families rated themselves high in marriage satisfaction and parent-child relationships. The project was not limited to Christian families. Dr. Stinnett found good families share six common qualities. The family members: (1) Are committed to the family; (2) Spend time together; (3) Have good family communication; (4) Express appreciation to each other; (5) Have a spiritual commitment; and (6) Are able to solve problems in a crisis. (Nick Stinnett, Family Building: Six Qualities of a Strong Family, p. 38)
Over the next four weeks I will be talking about some of these factors, which contribute to strengthening families. All families begin with a husband and a wife, so today I want to address marriage. You’ve heard that America has the leading divorce rate in the world. Did you also know we lead the world in the marriage rate also? Americans believe in marriage. 96% of all Americans will be married at some time. Even 80% of those who go through divorce will remarry. Marriage is an important institution in our country.
God has a lot to say about marriage in His Word. Let’s read His words in Malachi 2:
Another thing you do: You flood the Lord’s altar with tears. You weep and wail because he no longer pays attention to your offerings or accepts them with pleasure from your hands. You ask, “Why?” It is because the Lord is acting as the witness between you and the wife of your youth, because you have broken faith with her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant. Has not the Lord made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth.
“I hate divorce,” says the Lord God of Israel, “and I hate a man’s covering himself with violence as well as with his garment,” says the Lord Almighty. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith.
In Malachi we find a series of “complaints” God brings against sinful human behavior. He addressed marriage and His words ring true today. Good marriages don’t happen accidentally. Just because you have a marriage license doesn’t mean you have a good marriage, any more than having a fishing license insures you will catch fish. It just gives you the legal right to try!
Before I share this message I must issue a caveat: I don’t claim to be an expert on marriage. I don’t even consider myself to be a very good husband. I am constantly trying to improve. However, I can say that outside my relationship with Jesus Christ, my relationship to Cindy is the most important in my life. Our anniversary is June 1, so in three weeks, Cindy and I will have been happily married for 10 years–of course we’ve been married for a total of 28 years–but Cindy claims that about 10 of the 28 have been relatively happy! We have a strange and wonderful relationship: I’m strange and Cindy is wonderful. In 28 years, we’ve never had an argument, but we have had some serious discussions that made the neighbors next door call to see if everything was okay. I’m far from a perfect husband. Once when I did something stupid, Cindy wrote me a note that read, “Dear David, I hate you. Love, Cindy.” So, I’m no expert on marriage, but I’m trying to learn to be a better husband!