Life for the Jones couple has entered its second act. Jeff, 42, is a hard working husband and father of twin teenage daughters. At 40, Jessica is just as hard working and tenacious as she was at 20, if not more so. Devoted Christians, the Jones couple has become consumed with long work days, activities for the girls, quick dinner evenings, church ministry and rest. Rinse and repeat. Date nights are a thing of the past. Quiet conversation takes a back seat to everything else. Bible study time together is non-existent.
For the past few years, Jeff has found his wife to be more beautiful than she’s ever been, recognizing the Holy Spirit within her. But Jessica thwarts his advances for intimacy at just about every turn. Lately, Jeff has begun to notice the warm smile of the young waitress at the local Tim Horton’s, every morning.
Men suffer mid-life crises. Women deal with menopause. Both are symptoms of the fallen human condition. Both are agents of the devil designed to throw a monkey wrench into the precision gears of marriage. Think about it, if Adam and Eve had never eaten of the fruit, they may have lived forever in eternal bliss. But they did. They partook. In so doing, they brought the death of perfection on us all.
Men enter into a season where their libido outpaces their performance. Conjoin this with the physiological changes a wife may experience during the season of menopause, and a couple may be well on their way toward the trial years of a marriage. We see it happen in the world everyday: Husband leaves wife and children behind, for a young mistress; married couple of 20 plus years suddenly separate; wife leaves a husband who lately spends more time with friends and hobbies than in her company.
Hollywood capitalizes on the devil’s work. Adultery films tend to thrive, especially when box office names are associated with the picture. Media paints the picture of a better life without a ball-and-chain holding men back; women can have the freedom they’ve always wanted without having to deal with a grown up child who pouts when he can’t have his way. Hollywood says, “When the going gets tough, leave.”
But that’s not what God’s word says about marriage. God calls for husbands to love their wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. Ephesians 5:28 (NIV) goes on to say, “In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.” Marriage is not about the fulfillment of a husband’s physical needs every single time he feels the need. At times, wives simple need their husbands to be close; to say some encouraging words; to listen when she speaks; to be her friend.
Although man and wife may not always see eye to eye on intimacy, God did make provision for physical needs and emotional food in marriage. Case in point, the scripture contained in 1 Corinthians 7:5 (NIV) says, “Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” In essence, to deny your spouse intimacy is to welcome the devil’s temptation right into your marriage.
Pornography is a serious detriment to the institution of marriage. The truth is…some men become victims to it, when they feel deprived in their marriage. But the little known, scarcely talked about fact is that a growing number of women are also addicted to it for the same reason. We have become a society so consumed with staying busy for the sake of our personal goals, we’ve denied ourselves the very pleasures of marriage. There’s simply no time to woo our spouses anymore. It takes up too much space in a day, to work for what you already have, right?
I once had a conversation with a divorcee. He spoke of the early years in his marriage, back when he and his (then) wife took on the world together. He spoke of how madly in love they once were, and how it seemed that nothing could separate the two. But, as time rolled by, she changed. Their intimate moments stalled and eventually stopped altogether. He found it increasingly difficult to complement her. Even the desire to sit in the same room alongside her was a struggle for him. His eyes began to wonder, settling on other women. By the time his adultery was discovered, it was a complete shock to her, but he almost immediately filed for divorce, citing irreconcilable differences. A marriage of 27 years…destroyed.
Jeff and Jessica, our couple from the beginning of this article, represent Mr. & Mrs. America. They could be me. They could be you. They could be our mutual neighbors. They are us together. They are allowing Satan to ruin their marriage. To deny your spouse or to peak over the fence, is to invite him into your marriage. Take stock of what you have. Cherish what belongs to you because, in the blink of an eye, it can be taken away. Husbands, love your wives. Wives, honor your husbands. It’s what God intended marriage to be.