an offset printable PDF master of this chapter, click here.
By Samuel M. Smith
© 1989 Up Way
P. O. Box 1015
Kailua, HI 96734 U. S.
retrieval by any means without the express permission of Samuel M.
or Up Way Publications is expressly forbidden, excepting for brief
in critical reviews. This internet version is as exact replication of
original as is possible in internet format.
REVISED SECOND EDITION
First Edition . .
. . Copyright
Second Printing . .
. . 1981
. . . Copyright © 1989
reserved. No part
of this book may be reproduced by any means without approval of the
Up Way Publications, excepting for brief quotations giving full credit
and Copyright © notice.
Congress Catalog Card
P.O. Box 1015
WHY DO MARRIAGES END?
ONCE UPON A TIME,
long, long ago,
every young girl dreamed of finding her very own “prince charming,
married, and living happily ever after.”
Today, even in church circles, many
young ladies are looking
at careers and single living and (heaven forbid) some are even thinking
about having children out of wedlock, or having abortions to kill
they don’t want to have, because they so distrust men that they do not
want to have to share their lives or homes with one. And men, too, seem
to distrust women as tricky, selfish and “moneygrabbers.”
This is truly unfortunate, since God created woman to
cherish and share life with a mate, and a man is really incomplete
a good, loving wife. Furthermore, very few people of either sex
willing to live without any sexual relationships at all -- even those
are afraid of making any commitments.
In this day when the dreaded disease of
AIDS (Acquired Immune
Deficiency Syndrome) has become so widespread and even nearly epidemic,
to say nothing of the other sexually transmitted diseases, the lack of
commitment to one life partner and taking part in sexual activity
of marriage all too often becomes a fatal mistake.
Our moral climate has become one of, “If
it feels good,
do it.” Religious moral laws are considered “fuddy-duddy,” and
the narrow minded moralities of religious fanatics. Many young couples
talk openly about living together without marriage and “open marriage”
in which either or both partners are openly and flagrantly unfaithful
become all too common.
So, in the late 1980’s, has marriage
lost its magic?
For all too many, who have entered
marriage with mistaken ideas
or been born into broken homes or homes with such a viewpoint, it has.
But for those who choose their mates wisely, carefully and prayerfully,
it is still the most enjoyable, rewarding and exhilarating way of life
imaginable. For them, the “Magic Called Marriage” is still a beautiful
reality -- a dream come true!
But what is the real reason for the
failure of many marriages?
One person will blame it on his (or her) in-laws, another will insist
it is because of the lack of money, still another will say it was
of the infidelity of the mate, and someone else will insist that fate
played him (or her) a raw
MARRIAGE: Delight or Disaster
|hand. On the
surface, all of these do seem to be good, valid reasons,
but there is one underlying cause behind all of these surface
In other words, just plain old selfishness! Over simplification? Not
at all! Consider this: Selfishness is at the bottom of it when either
the marriage partners takes to drinking or drug abuse to drown or get
from his or her problems or sorrows, or to get high. The same is
true of unfaithfulness. But why call it selfishness? Why not blame it
poverty or wealth or a triangle?
Because self interest is still the
root cause of it all! The
wife who insists on having her own way is just as guilty of selfishness
as is her husband when he goes to the nearby tavern and gets dead
The husband who goes “out with the boys” three nights a week
his wife to a solitary evening with the TV is certainly being a selfish
oaf, but if all she is willing to do when he is home is talk
the afternoon bridge party or the new dress she has just got to get
Mabel got one, she is being just as selfish and, in fact, may well have
driven him out of the house by her own unwillingness to do the things
likes -- at least part of the time.
As to the matter of infidelity, regardless
of which partner it
is, self-gratification is the only possible explanation. There may be
circumstances” on the part of the offender, such as the poor lonely
mentioned in the last paragraph who might be easy prey to a salesman,
or postman, or the husband driven out of the house by the wife’s
chatter about things he is not interested in. But the fact still
that the guilty party acted out of a desire for
or selfishness. If the wife (or husband) is always too tired or “has a
headache” or is just simply unresponsive, that may be the foundation
unfaithfulness on the part of the other, but that lack of
while clearly selfishness on the part of the unresponsive one, may well
be caused by a demanding, selfish attitude on the other’s part.
“But you don’t know my mother-in-law,” you may reply. But
both the marriage partners are trying to please their spouse ahead of
there is little that the most meddling of mothers-in-law can do to
any serious fight between them. Since the husband is putting the things
that please his wife ahead of the things that please him, his mother
is kept informed that she
|Why Do Marriages
cause the wife problems unless she wants to break the harmony
with him. And because pleasing her husband makes the wife happiest, she
will allow no hurtful criticism of her husband from her mother on
of breaking the mother/daughter relationship.
The answer here is to communicate. Don’t allow embarassment,
pride, shame, guilt, or anything else keep you from first communicating
your love for your spouse, and then communicate anything that is
or could cause a problem between the two of you. whether it is his loud
snoring, her always putting away the papers you needed to fill out and
mail today so you can’t find them, a drug or alcohol or infidelity
or whatever. (It is not necessary to give nor to know all the “spicy”
of infidelity and I STRONGLY recommend against it. The fact that
either partner has had sexual relations before marriage in this day of
open promiscuity and premarital experimentation is important to
only to the degree that trust in the marriage can be strengthened or
It is not necessary to tell with whom or how many persons or times,
NEVER, NEVER, NEVER compare your spouse with any previous “lover”. Even
if it happens after marriage, it should be admitted to and repented of;
forgiven and forgotten and neither partner should ever mention it
Another reason marriages end is lack of consideration for
other. For example, the other day, I saw a young and obviously fairly
married couple go into the grocery store together. Without giving
the young man whom I will call Mike pulled out a shopping cart directly
across his wife’s path and she (I’ll call her Rose) had to stop quickly
to avoid running into the cart or getting her toes run over. I don’t
he meant to be rude or inconsiderate, and Rose may not have even
in her newly married state that Mike was inconsiderate, but after
years and some other person asking something like, “How do you put up
his rudeness?” she may begin to see all the times when he crossed ahead
of her and made her stop to keep from bumping him, or repeat incidents
of the grocery cart scene, or times that instead of holding the door
her as a gentleman, he has instead slammed the door in her face, may
to eat away at her subconscious and she may begin to nag and fuss at
Then he goes on the defensive and maybe counters with times she has
inconsiderate of him, and things begin to fall apart between them. He
a female coworker we’ll call Traci who
MARRIAGE: Delight or Disaster
her eye on him and she begins helping him find fault with
Rose. Instead of realizing he is being set up and refusing to allow
of Rose by Traci, he listens and becomes increasingly dissatisfied and
Traci seems so much more understanding of him and his feelings -- ! Or
it may be one of Rose’s friends or fellow workers if she also has a
who encourages her fault-finding attitude toward Mike and you have the
very true to life background of the foundation for a divorce.
Maybe the problem is drink, and maybe the wife
has a sweet Christian
disposition, but the husband begins stopping by with the “boys” for a
one at the corner bar” after work. Just a little hint of selfishness on
his part. For a while it is nothing to worry about, she thinks, but as
bills begin to put him under pressure, he turns more heavily to drink
a way to get his mind off his problems and then comes the evening when
he comes staggering in at 1 A.M. and drags the little wife out of bed
proceeds to beat her with his leather belt. This marriage is in bad
now. The best solution would be if the husband would only turn his
over to Jesus Christ and learn to cast all his cares on Him, knowing
Christ cares for him (1 Peter 5:7). He would soon find relief
anxieties. No more would he need to use alcohol as a crutch and let it
compound his problems, for he could lean on Jesus’ arm!
<> Perhaps it is the wife who is in love with the bottle.
she knows full well what excessive drinking can do, she goes ahead,
risking her home, her health, her children (whether born yet or not).
a time, she becomes hopelessly addicted, and will stop at nothing to
her baser desires. Hospitals and various other programs like AA are
partial answers. They work to dry out the body and give the mind
to “stay on the wagon” of sobriety, but they cannot give a new nature!
Only Jesus Christ can do that. He can break the shackles of alcohol or
drugs, but most important of all, He can free her from self!
Everyone knows someone who fits into one of the above
Think carefully. Is there any possible way the blame can be placed
but at the feet of selfishness, self-indulgence or Satan? Jealousy
within the realm of selfish pride. So when you say someone’s marriage
because of jealousy, what you are really saying is that one of the
partners was so selfish of every second of the spouse’s time, energy or
affection that it caused a quarrel or many quarrels. If both partners
willing to see only their own side, before long
|Why Do Marriages
MARRIAGE: Delight or Disaster
|they will become increasingly bitter until divorce
seems the only way
out of the situation.
Tom has been married for six years to a lovely
and youthful Cathy.
They have had a few minor quarrels, but nothing serious. Lately,
Cathy has been irritable for no apparent reason. Then it turns out that
Tom hasn’t been kissing her with quite the old fervor lately, and Cathy
has begun to feel sorry for herself (a form of selfishness). This fact
emerges at the breakfast table with: “Tom, I don’t believe you still
me like you used to.”
“Oh, Cathy, don’t be silly! Of course I still
love you. I’m just
working too hard at the office right now with all the ....”
“That sounds phony as a three-dollar bill, but I
the best you could do! You don’t have another girl --” Cathy’s voice
sharply as a seed of jealousy straight from the pit was planted.
The intensity of the pointless argument grew and
by the time
Tom arrived at work, he was like an angry bear. Shirley, the secretary
at the next desk saw his mood right away and began sympathizing with
Taking his part, Shirley built up his feeling that Cathy had been
with him and when he arrived home that night and found Cathy still
her chip-on-the-shoulder attitude, his bitterness hardened into
He’d show her!
The next day, Shirley again provided the
for him to put his head on and the ear to listen to his problems. Tom
to compare the sympathetic friend, Shirley, with his wife, Cathy. Why
Cathy not be as kind and sympathetic as Shirley? Tom selfishly
(Shirley, a married woman herself, had a crush on Tom. She was fully
of the role she was playing in breaking up Tom’s marriage, but she
him for her playmate -- for her own self-interest!)
Sound like someone you know? There are two ways
this story might
end, but we’ll deal with the alternate ending in Chapter Seven, page 51.
If Tom, Cathy and Shirley continue the way they
are going now,
there can be only one final ending -- a divorce or at least a
for Tom and Cathy and an affair between Shirley and Tom. It is
whether Shirley would divorce her husband for Tom, since she is only
out for herself. The only problem might arise if Shirley’s husband
out about her affair. Otherwise, she has both a husband and a lover,
to shower her with affection and gifts!
Let’s continue with HOW it happens. Cathy
continues to be
|Why Do Marriages
|suspicious and nagging
with Tom to the extent of insisting he must
be having an affair with someone, and Tom, listening to the suggestion
of his own wife, begins making leading remarks to Shirley. This is
what Shirley has been waiting for. Since Shirley’s husband is a
salesman, it is easy for them. Eventually, Cathy finds out and sues for
divorce and the house and car. In the arguments arising from the
and settlement, Tom tells Cathy that she practically drove him to have
an affair by her accusations and increasingly frigid conduct toward him
as her suspicions grew. Cathy insisted she was right all along. A
has hit the rocks. Why? Who was to blame?
First, let’s consider Cathy’s attitude. Could she
to thinking about herself and what was not as perfect as she would have
liked it to be? I wonder if some of that might not have been triggered
in the first place by back-fence gossip -- “My husband is still so much
in love with me that he brings me a box of candy every week, and takes
me out every Friday night for dinner and an outing,” the neighbor might
have bragged. Cathy realizes that Tom has not bought her candy since
last birthday and has taken her to dinner only once in the last year.
must not love me as much as he used to,’ she thinks, so she begins to
the score. An afternoon TV soap comes on with a husband cheating on his
wife, and brings the suspicion that maybe that is why he doesn’t love
as much any more. Now consider, what is the real base for this
It can be nothing short of self-pity, another form of selfishness.
Nor can Tom be found blameless. If his first
concern was making
his wife, Cathy, happy, he’d surely have tried to do something like
her gifts or take her out sometimes, and when she began to be unhappy,
he should have sensed something was wrong. Then he should have made a
effort to discover what was bothering her and how best to restore her
in their marriage. Once she revealed the problem, as we’ve suggested,
the breakfast table, instead of becoming defensive and edgy, Tom should
have paused and taken stock, then moved with loving concern to
his true love and affection for Cathy. It was also a big mistake, but
many are guilty of, to tell Shirley. So both Cathy and Tom demonstrated
forms of self-centeredness or selfishness.
Examples of all the various situations
leading to divorces and
broken homes would fill volumes, but in each and every case, a careful
analysis will reveal that selfishness in one form or other is at the
of EVERY marital disaster! There is nothing
MARRIAGE: Delight or Disaster
|abnormal or unique about
selfishness, since everyone has a degree of
selfishness from birth, and this must be so for even the preservation
one’s very life in the hostile environment of the world. It causes
is when your strong self-interest runs head-on into someone else’s
or path and creates jealousy, envy and hostility. Unfortunately, the
most often placed in the conflict situation is the one nearest to you
with whom you share home and other possessions and who makes demands
you for time, money and affection.
But no, it wasn’t selfishness, it was your
or quarrelsomeness that brought about your troubles, you insist. “My
was sweet as can be until her mother came to live with us.” So then the
dear old lady found fault with everything. But really, wasn’t there a
bit of truth to what she said? Surely there were a few things that were
legitimate targets for her criticism. And if YOU hadn’t lost your
and angrily defended yourself and maybe said some mean or cutting
before you stopped to think, the argument that followed might not have!
But your self-interest was too quick to allow any reflection on your
Further, the old lady disliked seeing the way you carelessly or
made extra work for her daughter by leaving your dirty socks on the
by the bed and your dirty clothes flung over the nearby chair, which
less effort on your part (selfishly) and the heck with your wife.
Are you beginning to see the self-defeating
results of a self-centered
attitude? Can you think of one single reason or excuse you ever heard
for a marriage ending that did not have its root cause in the self-will
of one or the other or usually both spouses?
Or, if you’re the wife, are you cooking good,
tasty but well-balanced
meals for the old grouch? Are you really carrying your share of the
by trying to stretch the budget and keep the financial picture from
dark? Are you trying to avoid fighting fire with fire when he comes
from work all tired and grouchy? (Bear in mind that a grass or brush
can be stopped by setting a back-fire, but both fires burn the grass or
brush and do damage.)
In other words, to make a marriage work, each
give to and do for the other. This is the meaning of love. When you
courting and very much in love, didn’t you give and give and do and do
for the one you loved just to receive a warm smile or thank you, or
even a kiss -- and the real return on your investment, the love and
of the person you
|Why Do Marriages
|loved? Weren’t you always
trying to bring happiness to your lover?
And in turn, didn’t knowing that the one you loved was happy make you
That same thing will work whether you are courting in your teens
or have been married ten, twenty, fifty or sixty-five years. Kindness
kindness. Consideration begets consideration. Love begets love. But the
reverse is also true, and selfishness tends to beget selfishness and
Is your marriage “on the rocks”? Look for selfishness first
in your own actions and attitudes and get rid of it. Then try to help
spouse see any selfish attitudes he or she may have -- after they can
a difference in your own conduct. You will be a happier person,
and, if both of you cooperate to eliminate selfishness, your marriage
surely be saved -- and more than saved, a real delight!
Page 40 is a blank page.
© 1989 Up Way Publications
P. O. Box 1015
Kailua, HI 96734 U. S. A.
Copying, storage or retrieval by any means without the
of Samuel M. Smith or Up Way Publications is expressly forbidden,
for brief quotations in critical reviews.
to Marriage Delight or Disaster Index | Return
to Catalog | Main