What causes a marriage to break down? If it were one issue that lead to marital strife the problem might be easily addressed. As it is, by the time a couple is willing to seek help for their marriage, the problems are numerous. I will address a few of the more common issues apart from sexual sin.

The central problem in marital breakdown is the foundation is built on sinking sand. A marriage not built on the foundation of biblical principles, with Jesus Himself as the head and center of the union will experience difficulties. Because few marriages are truly Christ-centered, it does not take long for the cracks to appear and before long the foundation crumbles beneath the weight of the issues. A successful marriage will consist of both husband and wife determining to defer to the Word of God as their guide for life.

It is my observation that marriages go south because sinful habits and practices have developed and gone unchallenged. They begin to erode the oneness in the relationship and chip away at the foundations of the marriage. Sinful attitudes of the heart can and must be confronted. Marriage is to be a relationship of mutual admonishment and exhortation. Husband and wife are spiritual equals, therefore, they are to help each other overcome sinful habits. It is not unsubmissive to confront unrepentant sin, it is a kindness and a loving act to do so! A part of loving ones spouse is desiring they become more like Christ. Help each other to live for the glory of God.

Another common area of marriage breakdown is selfishness or self-centeredness on the part of one or both marriage partners. Nothing destroys a marriage faster than selfishness. When a person reveals selfishness before marriage I would have a hard time encouraging them to marry. Knowingly marrying a selfish person is asking for a lifetime of misery and loneliness.

One aspect of selfishness is visible when one or both people are focused on how the other person “makes me feel” or, when a husband or wife has a constant demand for affection or attention from the other as proof of their love. She waits for him to serve her emotional needs, and he waits for her to wait on his needs. Neither person gives much thought to the other because they only serve themselves. This becomes very clear in relationships that are needs based.

Our culture has warped love to be about meeting needs, squishy feelings, and sexual attraction and fulfillment. With this worldly mindset, love becomes self-oriented instead of action oriented, sinful and fruitless. Anything that focuses exclusively on me and what can be done for me is sinful. It is idolatry. Nothing good can ever come from such selfish thoughts, beliefs, and desires. Any fruit that is produced will be rotten.

When marriage is others oriented, the fruit of happiness, joy, peace, fulfillment, and contentment is present in the couple. Each person looks after the welfare and fulfillment of the other and seeks the best for their spouse other rather than focusing on self. Husband and wife are committed to each other fully. They think the best of each other, and serve each other. This is the kind of marriage everyone wants.

Biblical love is costly-requires giving of self, time, interest, thought, consideration, money, creativity, and sometimes, even your own life! This is costly because it causes us to deny ourselves. It is being like Jesus, who laid down His life. Until you reach that point in marriage, you haven’t done enough.