Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God- Ephesians 5 vs 21
Today is my 19th year wedding anniversary, and on retrospect, I give thanks to God for giving me a happy home and a successful marital life, a lovely wife- Bukola Babalobi and godly children. This was my wish on August 3, 1996; and I have no regrets but joy in taking the marital vows, almost two decades ago.Thank God my marriage is working.
What makes a marriage work? I have made a compilation of tips for successful marriage based on my 19years experience; hoping this will benefit aspiring and younger couples.
1. The fear of God to me is the first and most important factor that contributes to a successful marriage. Both couples, particularly the husband should have the fear of God; which implies both couples should be born again Christians. In my counsel to younger people, I have always said marriages often run into crisis when either or both partners do not have the fear of God. I have always advised believers against marrying anyone who does not believe in the God you believe in, as both of you should drink from the same fountain.
It is the fear of God that leads the husband to love his wife; to be a responsible husband and father; it is the fear of God that prevents the man from extra marital affairs; it is the fear of God that keeps him in the house to work out the success of his marriage; it’s the fear of God that makes him to understand the sanctity of marriage and the need to keeps its covenant.
By the grace of God, I can openly boost of not knowing any other woman or not indulging in a single extra marital affair for the 19 years, in spite of my often long travels from my home. What has kept me in check is simply the fear of God that restrains me from indulging in sexual sin, not only against my wife, against my body, as well against my God.
On the part of the wife, it’s also the fear of God that keeps her in check; submitting to the husband as extolled by the scriptures; and avoiding acts that could risk the success of the marriage.
2. The second important factor for a successful marriage is the role of the Church. If both couples are Christians and associate with the body of Christ, the chances of marital crises are lower. The Church plays a moulding and balancing role in the lives of Christians. I regard the church as the most influential institution for Christian homes.
Marriage itself is instituted by God, and the church represents His body on earth. So what a good church does through its messages is to develop the character of the couples; and as they grow and develop in the Christian faith, the works of the flesh (anger, lying, pride, arrogance, greed, selfishness, sins etc) that often causes quarrels at homes gradually disappears. My wife spends a substantial part of her daily life in church related activities. Occasionally I complain, but I am also quick to realise that this keeps her in good godly company, away from negative peer pressure, gossips, and bad company.
3. The third important factor for me is Openness and Transparency. There should be no secrets between couples, knowing fully well both of you are one flesh. Evil thrives under secrecy. Secrecy breeds suspicions. By the grace of God, my wife and I both try to be as open as possible. My wife knows my salary, even all my children know my monthly salary, as I believe there is nothing to hide; and I spend it on things mutually agreed.
Every month, I sit down with her to do a budget, even before the salary hits the account. At the early years of the marriage, specifically in the 1990s, when she was the only person working, and on a monthly salary of Two thousand naira (N2000), she normally handed over the remaining N1800 to me to spend, after removing the tithe. My wife and I are joint signatories to all my accounts- personal and corporate. She knows the Pins of my ATMS, and I know hers.
An incident happened a couple of years ago, I traveled outside Nigeria. And as it is my normal practice, I handed over my phones to her as I did not want to miss my local calls. One of her colleagues at work was shocked, because her husband would never allow her to read his text messages or pick his calls even when he is at home. But this was a case of a man who handed his phones to the wife and traveled abroad.
Of course, if I have affairs, I would not allow my wife free access to my calls and messages. I make it a practice to disclose all my relationships to my wife including the few female colleagues I am close with in or out of work. Openness instills trust and strengthens the bond. Anything you can not disclose to your wife is evil.
4. The fourth factor is self-will and determination on the part of the couple to make the marriage work. God has given us the power of self will, the freedom to choose between right and wrong. You have to choose to be a faithful husband,a responsible father and deliberately work towards achieving this.
If you don’t want to become a polygamist, then you have to stick to one wife. I choose to make my marriage work in spite of all challenges and weaknesses, and thank God it is working. When I visited United States for the first time in many years ago, I faced pressure from a close relation to stay back and elope with an arranged ‘wife’ in California to facilitate the legalization of a stay in US. But I choose to respect the sanctity of marriage and returned back to Nigeria with its harsher economic realities. No one commits sin unintentionally, and the quality of our lives is the outcome of the decisions we have taken in the past.
5. Of course there are several other factors which time and space will not permit me to mention, the role of intense prayers and fasting, spiritual warfare and deliverance, the word of God, finance, extended family, faithfulness to God, etc
It has also not been a bed of roses. The first decade was particularly trying, but the grace of God was sufficient to overcome challenges.
6. I look at the future with greater confidence, believing my marriage like the path of the righteous shall be brighter and filled with more testimonies in Jesus name. At a time forces of darkness have unleashed attacks on Christian homes, my prayer is that our homes shall remain aglow radiating Gods love, faithfulness, grace, favour, deliverance, and mercy in Jesus name.